Tillerson in Moscow: a pleasant return to reality

The visit of Secretary of state Rex Tillerson (Rex Tillerson) to Moscow should put an end to fantastic speculation in the United States, and Russia, and start a rational, pragmatic workflow. Over the past few months we have seen or irrational delight in the Russian community due to the fact that the emergence of Donald trump in the oval office marks a glorious new era of friendship and cooperation, or disturbing conspiracy theory that trump is the Manchurian candidate from the Kremlin, ready to sell American interests. After the decision of the presidential administration last week about the application of a limited strike with cruise missiles as a punitive action against the Syrian government for using chemical weapons, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, and experts from both sides began to anticipate an immediate worsening of relations or the prospect of imminent military conflict.

The situation on the eve of the visit Tillerson was complicated by contradictory statements by different members of the administration about a possible U.S. actions in Syria and political measures against Russia. The result was that the first important meeting, Tillerson and Russian President Vladimir Putin, scheduled for a formal definition of institutions of cooperation with the US and Russia, will not take place.

However, no dramatic speeches or diplomatic equivalent of slamming doors were not, and Putin’s meeting with Tillerson is back in the schedule at the end of the visit of Secretary of state. Thus, the foundations were laid for the return of us-Russian relations in the working channel.

For starters, Tillerson, apparently, gave the Russians full list of restrictions, which employ American administration. Starting from the well-known Russian intervention in the election campaign in the U.S. to the continued support of Bashar al-Assad, the choice of Kremlin makes it difficult for those members of the American establishment who insists on cooperation with Russia. Of course, it is a sovereign right of Russia to stick to its course in foreign and domestic policy, but Tillerson has helped to bring much-needed clarity about how this choice affects the space available to the administration.

Second, Tillerson has helped to clarify how the Russian establishment can suppress the noise and rumors to determine the position of the President. Of course, the role played by the understanding of the tramp that if he is withdrawn and uncommunicative, then other people would be willing to submit their opinions and preferences instead. After a week of diverse, conflicting reports Tillerson was able to present his Russian interlocutors that the administration is not going to directly invade Syria with the aim of regime change.

Many commentators argue that the first meeting should be characterized as a failure due to the lack of any substantive agreements (for example, in Ukraine or in Syria) or the appointment date of the meeting Putin and trump. Instead, I would like to draw attention to the attempt of creating working groups and establishing clear lines of communication. Trump noted that he and Putin “on the same page” and see the world differently. It was a very critical assumption, because before the emergence of any significant changes in Russian-American relations, both sides should work on the basis of a common set of assumptions and understandings. What preceded the visit Tillerson, helped to understand that now about it to speak still early. Therefore, to declare on the meeting, when there is no agreed agenda or set of tasks expected from the meeting, trump and Putin is just a waste of time.

By all accounts, the talks in Moscow were held fairly, and was not made any attempt to hide the disagreement arose. The presence of an honest conversation is much more important at this stage than the desire to “create a positive impression” on the camera. Trump announced that relations between the US and Russia are experiencing a difficult period. Putin agreed. Tillerson left Moscow, not correct the situation within 48 hours, instead he managed to establish a substantive dialogue with the aim to demonstrate and to find points of disagreement and divergence. If both parties are attentive to this dialogue in Russian-American relations for the first time in a long time, you may receive a solid Foundation.