08 December 2016
Donald Trump’s pre-election admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin as a “strong leader” has raised hopes of a ‘reset’ of diplomatic relations since the deterioration of the US-Russia ties in this decade. While it hints at ending the sanctions on Russia, curtailing support to NATO and joining forces with Russia to combat ISIS in Syria, how likely is a breakthrough in US-Russia relations?
Donald Trump’s surprise victory as the US president-elect has raised the prospects of a rapprochement between him and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Trump has also emphasised the need to work together with Russia in Syria to root out ISIS and other Islamist militants, and supports the removal of sanctions to reach an agreement on Ukraine. Russia is deeply implicated in both conflicts, both as a partisan power as well as a party that holds a key to a resolution.
Trump and Retired General Michael Flynn, his National Security Advisor appointee, have blamed the Bush Administration for the failed war in Iraq, and the creation of ISIS. An admission of the US’ blunder could temper Russia’s indignation with US unilateralism, but it would have to be followed by tangible and comprehensive plans for containing terrorism and initiating reconstruction. There is nothing in Trump’s pronouncements to suggest that this is on the cards. Unlike Putin, Trump will encounter considerable domestic constraints and pressures from diverse constituencies. There are fears that, as with much of his campaign rhetoric, the ‘reset’ button may not be pushed at all.
… Bhavna Dave is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). A Visiting Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, she contributed this to RSIS Commentary.
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Last updated on 09/12/2016