Russia’s Leery Reaction to President Trump

Russian leaders remain leery about prospects for improved U.S. relations despite the inauguration of President Trump, doubting that he can overcome the political pressures from Washington’s “deep state,” says Gilbert Doctorow.

By Gilbert Doctorow

Contradicting the U.S. mainstream media’s expectations, the reaction of Official Russia towards Donald Trump’s inauguration has been quite muted. To be sure, there was no Women’s March down the streets of Moscow to protest Trump’s accession to power, but neither were there fireworks celebrating the installation of Moscow’s “Manchurian Candidate” who will do the Kremlin’s bidding, the bitterly partisan narrative fabricated by the neoconservatives and liberal hawks who dominate Official Washington.

A military parade on Red Square. May 9, 2016 Moscow. (Photo from: http://en.kremlin.ru)

On Friday, as a guest on a top-rated Moscow talk show, I noted that the microphone was offered much more to the other American on the panel who represented the Russo-phobic point of view that your average Russian television viewer loves to hate on this and other talk shows produced by the country’s leading broadcasters: Pervy Kanal, Rossiya-1-Vesti 24 and NTV.

Afterwards, I was reassured by Russian political analysts that the fact that I got much less time to present a more nuanced view wasn’t meant as a personal snub. It was because I’m known to support Trump’s goal of more constructive relations between Washington and Moscow. In other words, the major Russian TV outlets prefer to have on Americans who are eager to bash Russia, presumably because that’s better for ratings but also fits with the Kremlin’s desire to lower the expectations of the Russian people.

The Kremlin’s communications office has the final word on what gets aired for domestic consumption and it is very hesitant to take a stand on the likelihood of a thaw in relations with Washington under Trump. Up to now, the Kremlin was skeptical that Trump was serious in his pronouncements of readiness for improved relations; now they are skeptical that he can prevail over America’s “deep state” and deliver the goods of détente.

There’s another factor in the Kremlin’s caution about possible warmer relations with the Trump administration. It is a persistent feature of Russian national character over centuries for there to be a surge of patriotic emotions and rally round the flag when the country comes under external threat. That tradition kicked in following America’s imposition of economic sanctions and application of heavy military pressure on Russia’s borders as punishment for Russia’s absorption of Crimea and assistance to the insurgency in the Ukraine’s southeastern provinces of Donbas.

President Vladimir Putin’s personal approval ratings shot up from the mid-60’s to the 85 percent level, where they stand today, largely on the crest  of the patriotic wave of emotion and popular understanding that he and his administration are effectively defending Russian national interests, whatever the failings on the economy, on corruption and on political reform. However, this popularity is fragile and could suddenly collapse if President Putin were to be seen to sacrifice the defense assets of the nation by bargaining them away in deals that are not perceived as fool-proof and as ensuring equal if not better returns for the Russian side.

It was this consideration that dictated Putin’s prudence in responding to Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s peace offensive during Putin’s visit to Japan last December. Giving up sovereignty over any of the Kurile Islands is one of the red lines that Putin cannot cross lest he lose face domestically. Similarly, the Kremlin has to tread very carefully when responding to any olive branch from Washington.

Yet, Russia is carefully reading the signals from Trump, such as his suggestion at a press conference a week ago that the lifting of anti-Russian sanctions would hinge more on progress in curbing the nuclear arms race than on implementation of the Minsk Accords relating to Ukraine’s rebel provinces, provisions that really depend more on Kiev’s sincerity than on Moscow’s.

Trump’s suggestion added some substance to his promise to put America First when it comes to U.S. national security, rather than letting the desires of “allies” control Washington’s actions. Specifically, Trump’s foreign policy focus is expected to be the triangular relationship between the world’s most powerful military forces: Russia, China and the United States. Other countries will be of secondary importance. In effect, the tail will stop wagging the dog. The anti-Russian coalition of the Baltic States, Poland and Ukraine will no longer be allowed to poison U.S.-Russian relations.

Trump’s suggestion on nuclear arms reduction also was not a spur-of-the-moment aside. It clearly came from his top current, if unofficial advisers on foreign policy, namely former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Sen. Sam Nunn, who was present at the start of the Senate confirmation hearings of Rex Tillerson for the post of Secretary of State.

Kremlin Skepticism

But the suggestion turned out to be a non-starter for the Kremlin. Initial indications of surprise and skepticism by Russian officials quickly turned into a flat rejection by Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov during an interview with the BBC this weekend. Russia knows well that its conventional armed forces are still no match for NATO, that its nuclear deterrent is its great leveler, and it absolutely refuses to reduce its nuclear arsenal until there are substantial changes in the European and global defense architecture that make any reduction in its nuclear arsenal possible.

Couple walking along the Kremlin, Dec. 7, 2016. (Photo by Robert Parry)

Thus, the Kremlin is withholding its seal of approval on the incoming Trump administration and is managing the Russian mass media accordingly. The latest poll of Russian public opinion towards prospects for changed relations with Trump’s America just released by the news agency RIA Novosti shows that the Kremlin’s caution has been effectively conveyed to the people.

The question posed on Jan. 20 was: Do you expect changed relations between Russia and the U.S. following the inauguration of Trump? Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63.1 percent) said there will be changes, but it is still not clear in which direction; 19.8 percent said no, most likely the new administration will continue the previous course; and only 17.1 percent said yes, the President-elect spoke repeatedly of his desire for cooperation with Moscow.

In this context, I have no complaints against the producers of the Pervy Kanal talk show who invited me but then gave me little opportunity to speak. However, far beyond the experience of my visit, the evidence suggests that improving relations with Russia will require considerable creativity and persistence on the part of U.S. policy makers.

Meanwhile, the expectations of the American business community for improved relations are very high. In a meeting on Friday morning with the president of the largest association of U.S. corporations doing business in Russia, I was told that its Board expects the sectoral sanctions on Russia to be lifted quickly and no later than within one year. This optimism is founded on the primary attention that Trump gives to removing obstacles standing in the way of American businesses generally, removing the heavy hand of Washington from their operations domestically and abroad.

But the sanctions have been highly politicized and their removal, assuming proper metrics justifying such action can be agreed with the Russians, will come at a heavy cost in political capital for Trump. The U.S. mainstream media will surely cite such a move as proof of the unsubstantiated allegations that Trump is Putin’s “puppet,” as Hillary Clinton claimed during the final presidential debate.

Moreover, there are other things Trump could do, entirely within his powers as Commander-in-Chief and independent from Congress, that would dramatically lessen tensions with Russia and build confidence for future improved relations in all directions. Specifically, he could cease U.S. and NATO military exercises along Russian borders, remove the U.S. brigades introduced in Poland in the past few weeks and start dismantling U.S. bases surrounding Russia’s frontiers.

In today’s hyper-sensitive Moscow, which is literally gun-shy of America, the distance between micro-events, like my treatment a couple of days ago on Russian television, and macro-developments, like improving bilateral relations, is very small indeed.

Gilbert Doctorow is the European Coordinator of The American Committee for East West Accord Ltd. His latest book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015.

46 comments for “Russia’s Leery Reaction to President Trump

  1. January 27, 2017 at 09:31

    “The Kremlin’s communications office has the final word on what gets aired for domestic consumption” Really?!

  2. Bianca
    January 25, 2017 at 19:36

    The last thing Russia wants now is to act jubilant. It is very important not to give any excuse to American MSM cartel — any indication of rejoicing. This will help Trump at this time. After all –in spite of all the groveling –Secretary of State is still out.

  3. Michael Kenny
    January 25, 2017 at 11:58

    As with Mr Doctorow’s previous article on the same subject, this reads like an attempt to hype Putin’s defeat into a victory. Now a double defeat inasmuch as Putin & Co have fallen into the trap, which has all the hallmarks of Kissinger’s Machiavellian touch. I had thought Putin would do what he’s been doing in Ukraine: pretend to negotiate but in fact stall. The problem is that neither Trump nor Putin can give up Ukraine. Putin for the same reason Mr Doctorow mentions in regard to the Kurile Islands. His elderly Soviet-generation supporters want the Soviet Union, the whole Soviet Union and nothing but the Soviet Union. That requires him to re-annex, not just the whole of Ukraine, but the three Baltic Republics as well. Enter NATO. If Trump abandons Ukraine, he torpedoes NATO, in so far as Obama hasn’t already torpedoed it. As a matter of simple geography, Trump needs the NATO bases and NATO’s support to carry on his war on terror. The myth that Europe is more or less defenceless at Putin’s feet absent US support is precisely that, a myth. Germany, the country most threatened, is quietly but rapidly re-arming and if NATO members need to keep their forces at home to ward off a possible threat from Putin, they will be reluctant to commit to a war on terror that everyone knows is unwinnable anyway. Put simply, no NATO = no war on terror, Putin in Ukraine = no NATO.

  4. Dieter Heymann
    January 25, 2017 at 10:17

    “Things Trump could do”. From the Russian vantage point: dismantle the missile interception sites on our doorstep. Why did you not mention that Gilbert?

    • Kiza
      January 25, 2017 at 18:31

      I am just guessing, but the Russian expectation from any peace deal with US would be, in the order of diminishing importance:
      1) dismantling of the two anti-missile “anti-Iran” and “anti-North-Korea” sites on the Russian border,
      2) removal of all US/NATO troops from the Russian border which do not belong to countries whose border it is,
      3) removal of all economic and financial sanctions by US (EU and other vassal sanctions are up to EU, hopefully) and so on.

      In return, Russia could offer removal of its counter-sanctions and joint anti- extremist operations around the World. Not much really.

    • Pixy
      January 27, 2017 at 02:25

      How very american of you… “Not much really” We are not going to kill you after f you wife and murdering your kids in front of you. But in return you must give us all you have. Right…
      What you country needs is a good bloody civil war. Maybe then you would leave the rest of the world alone. I hope Mr. Trum gives you one. Have a taste of what you are doing to others.

  5. bozhidar balkas
    January 25, 2017 at 10:06

    Business to corporations or rich shareholders comes ahead of everything else. So, the business will rule also Trump.

  6. January 25, 2017 at 01:57

    Interesting reading, of course not in detail all 27 of the above, because I have better use scheduled for my time of research.
    So lets take a gander who things are standing in the city build on a swamp with the Donald and his Executivepower Order Book. Reminds me of my days working for major companies in equipment maintenance and I had a Company Order Book to [purchase equipment to keep the company running.

    Making America Great Again by bringing industry back from wherever it has been brought to.
    As just one example: The Masters made money out of transfer of industry to Asia, and Wall Street made money from the lower interest rates on the recycled dollars from the trade deficits. But now, the issue is strategic; and they will make money on the return of industries scaling down their investments in Asia and returning them to the United States as Trump for the Masters rebuild production USA.
    Have a nice day in retreat America.

    • Joe Tedesky
      January 25, 2017 at 10:49

      I agree. Our company has been doing that since 2006. Although, on some very competitive product we purchase at least 20% from two manufacturers in China. We have been making the $200.xx stuff that you can’t but anywhere else..(we have a big export market through our exporters to sell to China, who loves our product) and we sell the $20.xx stuff that we buy from China. It’s all good.

  7. anthony
    January 25, 2017 at 01:32

    All Trump is doing different than the Democrats is to target China for war ahead of Russia, hoping to split the two from any alliance with each other. Putin knows this and has no high expectations that Trump will actually represent “Peace’. The Democratic Party war mongers favored targeting Russia ahead of China though for their regime strategies for continued US world domination.

    • duglarri
      January 25, 2017 at 02:52

      Got that right. It was either war with Russia or war with China. My hope at this point is war with Iran, before China. At least Iran can’t fight back. As much.

  8. SteveK9
    January 24, 2017 at 20:03

    Maybe unlikely, but perhaps Trump will simply do as much as possible of what he says he want to do, and let his enemies scream their heads off. Most politicians want to be reelected, but Trump is not a politician. He is 70 years old, maybe 4 years of sticking to your principles will seem like enough. Not caring about reelection could even work in his favor. Might be refreshing to have someone stick to their principles. It’s going to be interesting. The first face-to-face discussion with Putin could be very interesting. One can understand the caution, but if Trump is a man of his word … they might try again.

    • Kiza
      January 24, 2017 at 21:09

      A very interesting idea which I have not encountered before – Trump being ok with one term only. To start a detente with Russia he really does not need two terms, if he is stubborn/determined enough. However, making US great again would require at least two terms. Fixing internal US problems could take 20-30 years, not eight because the problems are so huge and ubiquitous. US is like an aircraft carrier which takes 10 miles to turn around, it is still the single biggest economy in the world. It is highly unlikely that Trump could do much in four years.

      The global financial market is now spooked by the uncertainty that Trump’s reforms will bring: will they succeed or will they make things worse. These are interesting times, for sure.

    • Joe Tedesky
      January 25, 2017 at 10:55

      Yeah KIza, we in America won’t have time to fight Russia, because the sales of pussy hats and bullets are to brisk, and profitable at this time. Oh, and construction paper and 3 foot sticks sales are picking up nicely due to a sudden burst in protests. We’re making America Great Again already. Joe

  9. Bill Bodden
    January 24, 2017 at 19:43

    If our warmongers want war with Russia they will need to plan on nuclear war, which they might be sufficiently insane to do. With US and NATO forces bogged down in Afghanistan how much success can they hope for in a country as vast as Russia with its people so strongly nationalistic? And southern supply routes strangled in Iran and Pakistan and probably Turkey? Perhaps, Russia might add a strategy of showing Trump some nice sites for resorts in 2020 to steer him away from war.

    • Joe Tedesky
      January 25, 2017 at 10:57

      Resorts in the Kremlin…now your talking Bill. Don’t ya just love it? Joe

  10. January 24, 2017 at 16:01

    We really do need a renewed antiwar movement because the Middle East wars have made a Mess-opotamia, almost worse than Vietnam, and that blood is on the hands of the US chickenhawk neocons who cannot give up the imperialist game while we all suffer. McCain, Graham, Clinton have managed to stir up the worst demagoguery since the McCarthy era, and it is very dangerous. It is NATO that has been the aggressor toward Russia and the US set up the coup in Ukraine. Crimea held a referendum to go with Russia in 2014 when they were threatened by the violence in Ukraine, they are Russian people. It is too bad that Gorbachev did not get Reagan’s reassurance in 1990 as a treaty or something in writing that NATO would not threaten Russia by coming so close.

  11. January 24, 2017 at 14:41

    This so-called ‘exceptional’ nation (in what, war making?) has to proclaim itself right constantly and find other countries to rail against in order to keep the citizens worked up. Seems Americans are numb from 14+ years of jihadists so the rulers need another bogeyman in addition. It is absolutely true that most Americans have little historical knowledge of Russia, a fascinating country that has gone through more upheaval than most. Without the Russians it is likely WWII would have been lost. Unlike the US empire, Russia does not run around the world seeking regime change.

    • Joe Tedesky
      January 24, 2017 at 15:28

      Say it again Jessica K, and say it loudly. Us Americans still have a lot to learn about the rest of the world, and that’s why we should all join it, instead of blowing it up all the time. Joe

    • SteveK9
      January 24, 2017 at 20:08

      ‘Might have been lost’ is an understatement. 3/4 of German casualties in World War II came from fighting the Soviet Union (at the cost of 27 million killed … something Americans cannot really fathom … I believe we lost 300,000 men in the War).

  12. James lake
    January 24, 2017 at 13:38

    I found myself very irritated by this article
    The writer really shows a lack of knowledge about the history of Russia and USA relations through Gorbachev Yeltsin to putin.
    1. The USA has never kept any of its promises to Gorbachev regarding NATO
    2. Bill Clinton started the expansion of NATO Bush carried it on and obama
    3. The coup in Ukraine – the obama administration bullying The EU on sanctions
    4. The attack of Russian peacekeepers in Georgia and the subsequent media campaign to blame Russia
    5. Libya and the destruction of that country- after assuring Medvedev otherwise.
    6. The proxy war in Syria and the funding of jihadis
    7. The politicisation of sport WADA and FIFA
    8. The funding on NGOs to subvert Russia society and politics
    9. The funding of so called Russian liberals directly from the USA embassy in Moscow
    10. The demonising of putin which is undeserved and counterproductive

    There are many other issues I could list
    This list I made in five minutes – a so real Russia expert could provide chapter and verse to explain why Russia and its people do not trust the USA.

    This writer is very naive /
    Trump says a few words and all is okay

    As for the comment about LGBT
    Russia is a conservative culture to expect the president to say he supports this when his country doesn’t is ridiculous.

    • Joe Tedesky
      January 24, 2017 at 15:23

      James lake, I like your list. If you believe in change then why is it so hard to believe Russians are incapable of doing so. It wasn’t all that long ago that Americans polled in the majority of being against gay rights. If you recall George W. Bush was reelected into office back in 2004 on the strength of the homophobe voter. In fact if you recall the radical Senstor Barack Obsma only endorsed Civil Unions back in 2008, that was until he evolved into accepting Same Sex Marriage in 2012, or somewhere around that period.

      If Russian gays follow their American gay cousins, and promote the ‘every family has one’ publicity ad campaign, then anything is possible. When our family’s first gay came out he broke open the closet door for another two who were locked in that closet, and now our whole family is okay with their orientation.

      Back in the late sixties while serving in our Navy as a Radioman I knew then that our Radio Free Europe broadcast was blanking the Russian air waves with Woodstock music, and we all knew then that this was causing Russian youth to want to become more like us Westerns. This was confirmed to me in 1987 when a close friend of mine was part of Billy Joel’s Moscow tour, and this friend of mine spoke a lot of how the only time the Russians did the comrade walk was when they listened to the Beatles sing Back in the USSR…and they loved it.

      I try very hard not to paint whole societies with a broad brush. I mean even primitive tribes accept their gays in many ways surprising to us ‘civilized people’. So don’t give up so easily on the Russians, they are more like us than many Americans realize, and I’m sure you know that. Again I liked your comment, and especially your list. Joe

    • James lake
      January 24, 2017 at 17:28

      Why should the Russians change?
      Change to what?
      For what?

      Your comments show a real lack of respect and understanding

    • Joe Tedesky
      January 24, 2017 at 17:43

      Then so be it.

    • Kiza
      January 24, 2017 at 20:45

      James, Joe is one of the most mature and well intentioned commenters on this zine. Rest assured that he respects Russia very much and wishes the best for both countries. He was just trying to find a way that Putin could communicate directly to the US “liberals”, “lefties”, “progressives” and whatever else they are called, to turn them from enemies into friends. Let us reserve our judgement and not jump to conclusions before we find all the facts about the author and about my friend Joe.

      Where I believe Joe is mistaken is that he considers the US “left” to be misunderstanding Russia instead of being successfully manipulated by the Ziocons and the MI complex to hate Russia (not that the Republicans are any better). But this is why we debate here.

    • Joe Tedesky
      January 25, 2017 at 10:41

      KIza I’m just wiping my brow I didn’t bring up hockey, or the space race…gee what’s a guy gotta do around here to get a little respect??? No respect! Joe ‘Rodney’ Tedesky

    • Pixy
      January 27, 2017 at 02:14

      No he doesn’t. He has no respect at all for the Russians as follows from his comment. And yours too, btw. And you are so arrogant that you don’t even notice it. WHY would you just ASSUME things and Russia and the Russians?
      First, why would you assume Putin does NOT communicate with all representatives of different political views, including liberals? Half of Duma and all the government are liberals, The f you are talking about, child?
      Second, if you mean he must appease those paid by US to overthrow him and make them his friends, then you are beyond naive. Delusional. That’s not what these people are paid for!
      Third, what civil rights of LGBT are not upheld in Russia: list and verifiable examples, please. Oh just stop talking – you are spewing slurs and cliches without even understanding it.

    • Kiza
      January 24, 2017 at 20:14

      James, if I were Russian I would worry much more about the current US public discourse and rhetoric (straight out of Orwell’s 1984) than about the past broken promises and agreements. Besides, the US is under the new management, blaming the disastrous past managers would prevent us from moving on. Therefore, the Russians definitely do not hate US, but it would prudent that they reserve their trust, as you suggest.

      Unlike the general US citizenry, the Russians are highly history aware, like most other Europeans and especially the Chinese. They keenly practice Santayana’s dictum: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The author of this article is aware of such history probably better than any of us, maybe you need to read more of his articles or his book to appreciate. However, he looks at the present and the future of the bilateral relationship because this is what matters more in realpolitik. We do have to move on.

  13. January 24, 2017 at 12:44

    It will take some time for this US hysteria to die down and it will take us citizens pushing back on media and neoconservative lies about Russia in whatever ways we can, letters to editor and Congress, e.g. For comment on Putin, US loves vilifying him as this takes the onus off of faults of US leaders who set up this disinformation. recommend Joe T read Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine chapter Bonfire of A Young Democracy to understand the downfall of Yeltsin and rise of Putin. Putin is a conservative nationalist and a religious, adhering to Russian orthodox church, no way interested in LGBT issue. His prime concern is protecting Russia after vulture capitalists mainly from Harvard feasted on breakup of USSR.

  14. Joe Tedesky
    January 24, 2017 at 11:38

    All this good cop bad cop stuff that’s going on between Russia and the U.S. is understandable. The Russian people I’m sure are very leery that Putin doesn’t turn into another Yeltsin. I also believe that if Putin were to broadcast a speech in support of LGBTQ equal rights being established in his country that this would satisfy a lot of liberal concern in America over matters concerning our having a relationship with Russia.

    I’m hoping that Trump and Putin are having some cooperative back channel discussions. If so, then possibly by having a secretive dialog such as I mentioned, the two leaders could come up with a equally fair deal between our two countries, which would dispel any concerns, and fear, that would prevail between these two countries people.

    • Enels
      January 24, 2017 at 14:26

      […”if Putin were to broadcast a speech in support of LGBTQ equal rights being established in his country that this would satisfy a lot of liberal concern in America over matters concerning our having a relationship with Russia.”

      So it’s up to Putin to throw tradition immemorial to the wind and bow to western decadence, in public, and then he turns into a ballerina!?
      It’s strange how as the special interests contingents of the left have been granted largesse never seen before,(though maybe in ancient Greece? (Sparta?), at the same time the military assaults on little countries has gone off the charts. Read: hyper militarism, Fascism.

      If Putin would proclaim Gay Freedom for Russians, you think that would be a good opener for a better basis to normalization to USofA?

      Holy Moly! This is a result of the failure of organized religion and its replacement with organized insanity.

      Why the policy of ”Don’t say don’t Tell” wasn’t correct. Who wants others weirdness overly exhibited, much less established as a tool of leverage in foreign diplomacy.

    • Joe Tedesky
      January 24, 2017 at 17:54

      “If Putin would proclaim Gay Freedom for Russians, you think that would be a good opener for a better basis to normalization to USofA?”

      ……………………………………………………………………………..

      I personally like what Putin has to say, and all of what he proposes. What bothers me is how he, and his Russian people are perceived by the American left. If you feel that homosexuality belongs in the closet, then so be it. You are allowed, as I am allowed, to have our differing opinions. Don’t worry the American homosexual community isn’t going to come over there and attack you.

      I also am very upset that my country, America, has waged these unnecessary wars upon the different people who occupy this planets dear Mother Earth. So the next time I speak with one of my gay relatives, I will be glad to tell them, how they were right, and I have been wrong about Russia’s tolerance levels towards their acceptance of their community.

      Other than that, I do hope somehow our two countries will be able to live in peace with each other. Oh and I don’t need a church to feel close to God. The first will be last, and the last will be first…so goes it.

    • Kiza
      January 24, 2017 at 18:44

      With all due respect Joe, I believe that Putin has better things to do than worry about curing the US left from its self-imposed delusions. In Russia, the gay rights are fully respected and protected. Only as a conservative Christian country Russia does not accept the promotion of LGBT lifestyle to minors. The US left could have even legislated to promote such lifestyle to the kids in the US, but they cannot dictate the attitudes of the Russians in Russia. Your suggestion, although well intentioned as usual, has even less chance of succeeding than Trump’s proposal of mutual nuclear disarmament (which just shows Trump’s international relations inexperience).

      As I wrote above, there is nothing that Russia could offer to US that would satisfy US Democrats and/or Republicans, to crawl back the bad moves that the US has already done to Russia (e.g. moving its Army to the Russian border). The US detente with Russia is as much in the domain of miracles as the fixing of the US economy.

      I am betting on US continuing to confront militarily both Russia and China, Trump could only change the current focus away from Russia and onto China. Therefore, no peace, no detente, no swords into plowshares, no peace dividend in our lifetime, unfortunately.

    • Joe Tedesky
      January 24, 2017 at 19:11

      Thanks for the comforting words KIza, but next time I will contain my thoughts to my self, and keep my mouth shut. I of all people believe in a nation’s sovereignty, but I don’t appreciate the tone that is used to “tell me off”. I realize how Russians may have once had their religious freedoms suppressed and I hope they enjoy sitting in church listening to the word of God. I also hope that any of the so ever righteous religious types of our world, will not be to disappointed when I and my homosexual relatives show up in heaven to enjoy God’s love. Sorry, but I’m a result of being a twice married once divorced Catholic, who respects the rights of a little boy to be left alone, and for him to enjoy a healthy child upbringing. Oh, and yes our snowflake left needs to start accepting things of what they have no control over, as well. I’m still going to promote Putin regardless, so no harm done.

    • Kiza
      January 24, 2017 at 21:23

      Joe, as written above, I have been busting my head trying to imagine a deal that would satisfy both Russia and US, but I failed so far. I believe your thoughts were along similar lines, trying to offer an idea on what Putin could do to smooth things out. You definitely should not contain your thoughts to yourself because this would make our debate poorer. The debate here is usually quite good, although some younger commenters can get hot under the collar. Let us not make it and take it personally.

      PS. I tried to pay back some commenters here before who tried to “tell me off”, maybe I was wrong but I did enjoy the more intense confrontation of telling them off back.

    • enels
      January 25, 2017 at 20:04

      Even if Soros’ NGO influence seemed to be a good idea to you, I still don’t see where Americans have any business pushing LGBTQ issues on other countries, no, and I really am against f’n around in third world countries too, trying to upstage their primitive morals, and traditions.

      ‘Cause, that’s what they do, (who’s they…?), well just they. THey do it, how do you think America has become so much of a decadent capital for cryin’ out loud? Clue…. Hollywood movies and TV.

    • John
      January 24, 2017 at 23:40

      Already in Russia, it is illegal to discriminate against LBGTQ people for employment, housing, etc – unlike the majority of US states.
      Moscow and St Petersburg (the only large cities in Russia) have a substantial gay scene.
      Hate crimes against LBGTQ people are maybe 100th of those in the US (on a per-capita basis).

      The much talked about “gay propaganda” law has been horribly misrepresented in the US. To fall afoul of that law, one must give factually incorrect information about “nontraditional lifestyles” to a minor who has not asked for it. The penalties to a Russian citizen who does this are minor, but if a foreign corporation does so (or someone who is being sponsored by a foreign corporation), there is a substantial fine for that corporation, plus a 90 day ban from doing business. Thus, if Lady Gaga were to say, during a performance “being gay makes you smarter” or other such counter-factual thing, Viacom would be unable to do any business in Russia (a major market for movies) for 90 days.

      The absolute worst thing that the US could do for LBGTQ people in Russia is to push for LBGTQ rights there. That would put a target on their backs, making them seem like a 5th column. (Much like Israel’s LBGTQ propaganda in Palestine has harmed the LBGTQ people there.)

      If you place importance on LBGTQ rights, and you are American, there are plenty of opportunities for activism here at home. Especially with a VP who pushed “religious freedom” bills (legalizing discrimination) and diverted state funds to “gay conversion therapy”. Discrimination in employment and housing is legal in most states, and a whole host of other issues. In NYC, for instance, if a Trans* person is stopped and frisked, and they have a condom on them, they can be charged with prostitution. Cops still solicit sex from other men in parks, and arrest them if they do not respond violently. In many ways, the situation for LBGTQ people in the US (especially outside major cities) is worse than in Russia.

    • Joe Tedesky
      January 25, 2017 at 10:34

      John, now your answer telling me the street smart reason why my suggestion that Putin tell our American kids how he’s okay with the gays, while on the surface may sound innocent and naive, is good….let’s debate our brilliance like you just did, and not call each other disrespectful or stupid.

      America sells everything too much, like when we besides going after bin Laddn sold our U.S. citizens on how we must not only kill Osama, but free Afghanistan women from their abusive Taliban husbands. Well maybe we should have also freed people, I don’t know but that’s how we sell cars….extra options, it’s the American way.

      John, you can read my thoughts of what is going on above on a more recent post, but thinking of how to make peace, is something we in America should do more often. Thanks for the well written and thought out replay….Joe

  15. Sam F
    January 24, 2017 at 11:01

    Good insights here. I wouldn’t worry about sidelined optimism during a period of skepticism. Likely the Russian govt is expecting something concrete from the US as a condition of the delayed Trump-Putin meeting. Trump may be waiting to consolidate control of the military and secret agencies, before acting. Good suggestions on gestures of de-escalation.

  16. Kiza
    January 24, 2017 at 10:56

    Dr Doctorow, you and prof Stephen F. Cohen are the most knowledgeable about Russia and the most sane people in the insane US of A. Thank you for another insightful report from Russia.

    You write: “Up to now, the Kremlin was skeptical that Trump was serious in his pronouncements of readiness for improved relations; now they are skeptical that he can prevail over America’s “deep state” and deliver the goods of détente.” But are they not spot-on, especially in their current view? Do you yourself believe that Trump can win against US? Whenever I read another article from the US print or watch a short piece from US TV, even as expectant as I am, I still get shocked by the crudeness and fervour of attacks on both Russia and Trump. The US society is in a pathological state brought into by the media and it is scary for the survival of all. I cannot imagine Dr Trump finding a cure.

    Therefore, the Russian leadership’s management of expectations of the Russian population on detente is the only sensible thing to do. Plus, it is an approach consistent with the country’s psichy, to avoid painful disappointment.

    Finally, when I read Trump’s first offer of the possible trade for the detente, I immediately thought that that would not fly. Russia would not get rid of its nuclear weapons and thus its long-term security in return for the short-term gain of sanction relief. In reality, the US has encroached so much on Russia’s natural rights already that Trump just cannot make US look like a winner of any deal with Russia. In other words, how can Russia negotiate a release from the clutches of the self-declared owners of the World? As a declining power, the US would feel like a loser from any deal which would free up its self-declared enemy. Russia has nothing to offer to satisfy everybody in US and especially not the domineering US extremists, except unconditional surrender. In another set of words, the US is so nuts that even President Trump’s good will cannot heal it from its delusions.

    • Joe Tedesky
      January 25, 2017 at 04:17

      KIza, I’m at a point where I believe the Western MoneyChangers have probably already decided on what they must do next. I honestly believe it doesng have nothing to do with placating anyone on gay rights. The American debt is way to high and now would be a good time to call in all of that loan money.

      Russia still has Natural Resources, I’ve never been there but I understand the Russian country is spectacular. Kruschev would start his back channel letters to JFK talking about it’s starry beautiful sky against some scenic detail described Russian land scape…and it’s even prettier underneath all that landscape. The MoneyChangers actually believe that Putin plagiarized his plan that he submitted to the Russian Duma a longtime ago from a couple of American college professors who wrote the plan Putin used in a peer essay these two American scholars wrote….who knows, who cares. The MoneyChangers also don’t like how Oligarchy Slayer Vladimir struts his stuff, see SNL parody…that’s a weapon. Ivanka probably thinks it is…come on think young.

      Somehow though I hold out hope that Putin and the Western New Generation of Oligarchs won’t go to war. America has to rein it in. What I’m starting to wonder about is what does the internal future hold for America, and maybe the world. Netanyahu is having a terrific business relationship with Russia already, so where’s the beef? The West still holds most of the chips, I believe, and yet the hand writing is on the wall…so let’s build some walls, and make Americans work, but just don’t pay them much.

      What theater, and it sells, did you see Schumer with Trump today!

      Who knows what going to happen here in America, for all I know we could be all living in our basements this time next year. I think America is starting a new cycle, and we are now preparing for shrink down mode…downsizing is fun, we sell more and drink more beer, the crime rate might go up but bullet sales are brisk….we are downsizing, but not like in the 90’s when every corporation was getting ISO Certified. This time it will be different we will be retrained. The millennial won’t go down into a mine shafts, because they get their heat & airconditioning from an app….so we’re okay.

      And thanks for sticking up for me, just when I thought all my guardian angels had died…then there was you. Tks!

    • Kiza
      January 26, 2017 at 23:30

      Humorous and thoughtful, enjoyed reading, thanks.

  17. Rick Patel
    January 24, 2017 at 09:48

    President Trump’s Cabinet looks like the cast of a D-grade re-make of “Doctor Strangelove”. No wonder the Russians are cautious.

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