This week Secretary of state Rex Tillerson will come with his first diplomatic visit to Russia, where he is likely to put pressure on Moscow over its actions in Syria, which he called “incompetent.”
But Tillerson must recognize that Russia’s actions in Syria is just one example of the increasingly active and destructive policy, which President Vladimir Putin holds on the world stage after the inauguration of Donald trump.
In January, backed by Moscow separatists, probably after receiving instructions from Putin, have stepped up military operations against the armed forces of the Ukrainian government, bringing their intensity to the highest level in a year and a half. This is a direct violation of the Minsk agreements, which were signed by Russia and Ukraine, developed by France and Germany, and supported by the United States, with the aim to freeze the war and to create conditions for the restoration of peace.
In mid-February, Putin issued a decree on the recognition of passports issued by the two separatist States in Eastern Ukraine. In the same month seceded from Ukraine’s Luhansk region announced that the Russian ruble will become the official currency. These actions must have been approved by Putin. Maybe he just turned a blind eye. This is an example of the gradual assertion of Russian sovereignty over parts of Eastern Ukraine.
In January, Russia pulled its troops to the border with Belarus, apparently in an attempt to put pressure on Minsk to force it to agree to the increase of Russian military presence on the territory of Belarus. And in March, the Kremlin has ordered to include in structure of the Russian armed forces the army of the breakaway Georgian territory of South Ossetia.
Meanwhile, the top us General in Europe Scaparrotti Curtis (Curtis Scaparrotti) told Congress about the gradual rapprochement of Russia with the Afghan Taliban. He also suggested that the Kremlin is supplying weapons to the rebel group. The supply of weapons is an important step, indicating the cooperation between Russia and the Taliban, and undermine us efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. In addition, it increases the danger in Afghanistan nine thousand American and five thousand NATO troops.
Two weeks ago the commander of us forces in Africa, General Thomas Waldhauser (Thomas Waldhauser) noticed that Russia is taking an increasingly active part in the Libyan developments, placing its forces on Egyptian territory near the Libyan border. He stressed that Russia has a powerful Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftarot (Khalifa Haftar), which opposes the UN recognized government in Tripoli.
And of course, last week Russia has denied Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used sarin gas against its own people. This is another step of Russia to provide broad and deep diplomatic and military support to the Syrian dictator who killed about 200 thousand Syrians, half the population turned into refugees.
In all these actions there is a common thread. Putin is seeking to increase political influence on the neighbouring countries and wants to, Russia was considered a great world power, experiencing a President trump. He wants to see how far can Russia go before she will say “stop”. Putin certainly realizes that the tramp will not be able to lift Western sanctions against Russia, had hoped the Russian leadership. But it is possible that the inexplicable love trump Putin, the Russian leader, will allow the Kremlin to act aggressively without encountering resistance from the United States.
What did the administration trump in response to these actions? Sounded harsh statements from the lips of Vice-President Mike Pence, Secretary of defense James Mattis, and especially the American representative to the UN, Nikki Haley. But the trump is not yet acts with any conviction, and most importantly, not taking any action.
The administration needs to develop and outline a clear policy towards Russia. It should very clearly indicate what is unacceptable. It should strengthen its deterrent forces, and thus to define its position in the negotiations, to make it easier to seek areas of cooperation.
Signal must first President. He is obliged to give a speech, speaking about U.S. interest in the transatlantic security and strongly stating the right of States to democracy, market economy and membership in NATO and the EU.
American policy towards Russia should provide further funding of troops and exercises on NATO territory, as well as additional funds for the training and supply of equipment not part of NATO partners, the US threatened Moscow. At the same time, Washington should resume discussions with Russia on the control of nuclear, conventional, and now cybernetic arms to lower the degree of tension in areas where there is a potential danger.
The President should also condemn Russia for its continued support of Assad and the purposeful bombing of civilians in Syria. He should exert pressure on Russia so that it supported the change of power in this country. To bomb the airfield is not enough.
And of course, the administration is obliged to condemn Russia for interfering in the American elections, and to clearly indicate that such actions are intolerable, and in the future America will not accept them.
Like this President or not, but Putin’s Russia considers the United States its enemy and tries to weaken the American position around the world. Just a few weeks, Putin has done much in this direction. President trump have to say: “Enough.” To begin with, he may request the Secretary to convey this message to Putin during a visit to Moscow this week.
Michael Morell in the period from 2010 to 2013 he was Deputy and twice acting Director of the Central intelligence Agency. He is a senior Advisor at the consulting firm Beacon Global Strategies.
Evelyn Farkas, the Obama administration was the Deputy assistant Secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia. She now works freelance senior fellow at the Atlantic Council (Atlantic Council).