Rostislav Ishchenko: Our Response to Trump

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


During the negotiations in Hamburg, on the fields of a meeting of the Big industrial twenty, the US President Donald Trump and his environment sent to the President of Russia Vladimir Putin some signals concerning the platforms on which agreements are possible.

It is Syria and Ukraine. And the signals are ambivalent, let alone contradictory. But there is nothing surprising in it. Putin is shown at the same time both good and bad options. If we will come to an agreement, then Russia can receive Ukraine and keep its positions that are already won in Syria. If we don’t come to an agreement, then in both directions aggravations are probable, up to a provocation of direct clashes between the Russian and American militaries.

From the point of view of traditions of the American policy, Trump is indeed ready to concede much. The US never gives anything to anybody, even the things that haven’t belonged to them for a long time. And here they are ready to bring Ukraine – recently captured by them with such work and expenses – on a silver platter. They are ready to close their eyes to the fact that Russia will receive continuous military-political presence at a key point of the Middle East.

Taking into account the internal political problems of Trump, who only lazy persons in the US don’t accuse of working for Putin and the Kremlin, this “gift” is really generous. Nevertheless, the US is afraid that the “gift” will be rejected and, just in case, frightens with the possibility of a sharp aggravation. Why?

Because for Trump there is a need to return from the meeting with Putin as a winner. A winner not in the format of the concepts of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, but in understanding of that part of the American elite that placed a stake on him and brought him to power.

I will remind that the concept of Trump (it is obviously not invented by Trump) consisted of a truce on acceptable conditions (even at the price of partial concessions) with Russia to concentrate forces on the Chinese and Iranian directions.

China encroaches on traditional American fiefdom – Southeast Asia. The Americans who got used to considering the Pacific Ocean as their lake suddenly saw the Chinese fleet rushing into the operational space, and the building in the key region of the South China Sea (allowing to control the exits to the Pacific and Indian oceans), through which a third of global sea trade transportations passes, of Chinese naval, military, and air bases.

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If China is able to entrench itself in this region, America will lose sole control over maritime routes. Moreover, the American merchant marine and military fleet will be able to use the direct route from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean as long as China allows it. Exactly in the same way that everyone uses the Panama Canal as long as the US allows it.

But China tries to ride out of trade routes not just like that. It became a world factory long ago and now wishes to deliver production to potential clients and to receive goods necessary to it directly, and not to depend on American good will. But if China receives access to any sales markets that don’t demand American sanctions, then its link to the American market will disappear, and the US will lose its leverage on Beijing. Today the US and China can mutually bring down the financial and economic systems of each other. Guaranteed mutual financial and economic destruction ties the hands no worse than guaranteed mutual nuclear destruction. If China detaches itself from the American market, the US will find itself in a vulnerable position.

In turn, Tehran actively and successfully challenges the Saudi domination in the Middle East. It wouldn’t be a problem for Washington if Iran was still governed by a friendly-to-it Shah. But the US didn’t mange to create and now won’t create a relationship with the regime that was established after the Islamic revolution.

The Iranian domination in Iraq and a part of Syria, to which Qatar (which rejected already two Saudi ultimatums) and Yemen (where the Saudi intervention fails) were added, means the loss of control by Washington over regions of production and routes of transportation of the most part of the delivered energy resources to the west (in the US and EU). The victory of Iran over the Saudis for the US is more terrible than any victories of Russia in Syria. Even if all of Syria will be under the control of Assad, and even if ten Russian military bases will be established there, this will only reduce the influence of the US in the Middle East (Washington will be compelled to share it with the Kremlin). But if Iran will beat-off Saudi Arabia and will become the new Middle Eastern hegemon – the center of gravity of the Islamic world (and as the example of Kuwait shows, Sunni dynasties are able not at all badly to interact with Shiite Iran, even if it is together with the Turkish safety net), the prestige of the US in the region will become zero. To share influence in the region with Russia and to lose to Iran are not the same things.

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Iran and China are not in the least obliged to a benevolent position of Russia for their success. Moscow provides a strong reliable rear and gives military and technical, political and diplomatic support. Not incidentally both Beijing and Tehran took the initiative to conclude with Russia a binding military-political agreement (registration of a military bloc). The legal obligation of Russia to be on their side in the event of a military conflict with the US would completely secure Chinese and Iranians, and would force the US to return to the concept of concentration of all forces against Russia. Then the key for Washington’s victory in the fight for world hegemony would be without any alternative in Moscow. And it is precisely for this reason Russia also evaded from such “tempting” offers, preferring an actual union to a legally issued one.

Trump’s hope and victory, which will be perceived as such by the elite supporting him, consists in convincing Moscow to take a completely neutral position in the American-Chinese and American-Iranian conflicts. Then the US will receive hope to crush Iran and then China, and then only after to return to the Russian question. It is for this that Washington is ready to give back Ukraine and a half of Syria. As for Russia, such a deal is obviously a losing one, the US is afraid that Russia won’t accept a “gift” and, as a precaution, threaten with the strengthening of the confrontation on the important-for-Moscow Ukrainian and Syrian platforms.

We understand that Trump won’t be able to support at the same time the Obama’s level of confrontation with Russia and to solve the Iranian and Chinese problems. So the horror stories in such a case don’t work. But we understand also that Trump, coming back to the US with nothing, will be additionally weakened (he won’t solve the problem of that of the part of elite who supported him, while Clinton globalists already dream of his early resignation). Meanwhile the alignment of forces in Congress is such that a weak Trump subordinated to the dictatorship of parliament can appear to be worse than Obama and Clinton together.

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Thus, the problem of negotiations on the fields of the G20 is that for Russia it is necessary not only not to cede to the American demands, but also to propose offers to Trump that could allow him to keep his position in American politics, and thus wouldn’t undermine Russian-Chinese-Iranian cooperation.

And it is precisely for this reason that Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping spent hours on the eve of the beginning of the Hamburg G20 conference. The Russian-Chinese offer has to be a compromise (to leave space for Trump for internal political maneuvers), and joint (in order to deprive the US of illusions about an opportunity to create a split between Russia and China). And a Russian-Chinese (or even Russian-Chinese-Iranian) military-political union is that bludgeon that hangs behind the back of negotiators and stimulates Americans to constructivism. After all, of course it’s not very favorable for Russia now, but in the situation of the US’ return to a policy of a tough confrontation Moscow will have nothing to lose, the same as Beijing with Tehran.

The registration of such a union will mean a total political failure for Washington. This will record a split of the world into two opposing military blocs, the armed forces of which already informally confront each other on the third platforms, and at any time can clash directly. The US will be obliged to choose between the splitting of the world (which will kill the American economy, but also will cause to Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran very serious damage) and a nuclear Armageddon, in which there can’t be winners.

As a whole, the stakes in this meeting are extremely high, which is announced as a “simple acquaintance”, and the psychological tension of the participants is huge.

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