A very cold war

Interview with Tomas Pugachevich political scientist, a member of the faculty of international and political studies Jagiellonian University in Krakow.

— Onet.pl on the one hand, Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin failed to reach agreement on a cease-fire in Syria, on the other — the Americans decided to tighten sanctions against Russia. The white house announced that the President’s veto will not. In response, the Kremlin is going to turn out nearly 750 members of the diplomatic missions of the United States. We are on the threshold of a new cold war? Or the previous actually never ended?

— Pugachevich Tomasz (Tomasz Pugacewicz):
We have seen the return of various elements, which were inherent in the confrontation of the cold war era. There has been intensification of Russian intelligence activities in Washington and Vice versa. Both sides are willing to take restrictive measures against diplomatic personnel. This is reminiscent of the situation in 1986, when Reagan expelled 80 Soviet diplomats and the Soviet Union responded with a ban on work for 250 people from the support staff of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. And finally, both countries are competing in third countries, financing and training of their residents or even using your own strength on different sides of the barricades.

— We know that policy is largely looks as it depicts the series “house of cards”: she is extremely logical, although at first glance may seem pointless. Trump talked about the normalization of relations with Russia, but suddenly there were sanctions. How to understand this?

— A law introducing sanctions, contrary to the position of the President. He agreed to sign it, but he was in the House of representatives, the project received 99% of votes and in the Senate 98%. This means that if the President decided on his first veto, it would be immediately rejected.

— Where did the idea to impose sanctions? In fact, as we can see, it definitely wasn’t the President.

— It is associated with Russian intervention in the American electoral process. We are talking not only about the topics that were the subject of proceedings of the Ministry of justice or the congressional hearing, there are meetings trump and his associates with people associated with the Russian Federation, but also about tampering with the mail of the National Committee of the Democratic party. The draft law was prepared by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (Lindsey Graham). His mailbox got hacked too people who believed in the United States, connected with Russia. That the Congress should impose new sanctions, he said in December last year.

And Congress approved them.

— The law is a serious document. It is more than 100 pages of text, half of which concerns Russia. I think many have not read it yet. Media spread reports that the law imposes restrictions against the pipeline “Nord stream 1 Nord stream 2”. However, the document clearly States that it only gives the President the right to impose sanctions relating to the pipelines. The signing of the law, it is not automatic introduction. Unfortunately, not everyone knows about it. On the other hand, the law imposes on the U.S. Treasury obligation within 90 days to impose sanctions in respect of the projects, the Russian share is more than 30%. We are talking about how to punish Western companies that participate in such projects and transfer of new production technologies. But even in this section, I found a clause that allows the U.S. President to waive those measures if it considers that they harm American interests.

The chances for the normalization of us-Russian relations is close to zero?

— Many analysts say that we are at a point that is reminiscent of the mid 1980-ies — the period preceding the thaw, which ended the cold war. This time, after which came to power by Mikhail Gorbachev. He consciously adjusted the policy of the USSR against the United States and then the Soviet Union — contrary to the intentions of the reformer — all ceased to exist.

When the cold war ended, the Russian side decided that the Americans were abusing her good will at the conclusion of the various kinds of agreements. Had the idea that for every violation of Russian interests should be given a symmetric or asymmetric response, which will force Americans to abandon unfavorable from the point of view of the Russians steps.

This adverse step was the decision of Barack Obama in December of last year to send 35 Russian diplomats and seize two Russian properties. The Russians say that in these places the rest of the children of Russian diplomats, but of appearing in the press leaks, it follows that there can be installed special equipment to conduct espionage activities. Moscow did not immediately respond to this step: she gave Donald Trump seven months to work out an agreement on this issue.

Two weeks ago representatives of the state Department and the Russian foreign Ministry held a meeting dedicated to this topic, but the talks ended in failure. So I would have offered to take a look at Russia’s decision to send 750 personnel of the us diplomatic mission in this context. The Russians are tired of listening to trump statements about his benevolent attitude toward Moscow, as followed by any concrete action.

— Russia did not have many opportunities to respond to the actions of the United States?

Yes. They do not speak each other’s important trading partners. There are, of course, the raw materials that Russia supplies the US, but this is not the area where the suspension of contracts will be painful for Americans. Much more unpleasant (for both parties) could be the termination of cooperation in the field of space technology. The Americans still no Shuttle, they send astronauts into space on Russian launch vehicles and launch satellites by Russian engines. Already appeared an opinion that it is time to strike in that direction.

— There was the idea that it is time to stop cooperating with NASA, but while it was abandoned.

— It is foolish to kill the goose that lays the Golden eggs. The Russians know perfectly well that the U.S. needs the engines, so with each new order the price goes up.

— So, it’s all about the money.

Is a very profitable region, such things do not give up. In addition, the art of diplomacy is not to use all of the most powerful tools at once. The intensity grows slowly, the actions appear gradually. Congress to sanction and expulsion 750 American diplomats seven months after Obama’s decision on the expulsion of Russian are tools of communication. Diplomats talk to each other not only in offices but also through concrete actions.

— In this case intended to demonstrate these actions?

— The discontent of the Russians that the statements of Donald trump on the normalization of us-Russian relations remain empty words. The first step should be the return of two objects, which the United States seized last year by order of Obama. The case seemed simple, it was within the competence of the President. But nothing happened, so the Russians decided to send 750 personnel of the US diplomatic mission, sent a clear signal: “we’re going to escalate”. There are fears that Russia will soon continue to do this to force the other team trump to cooperate.

— What exactly to expect in the near future?

— It is likely that Russia will use the tools of influence not only on the United States, their companies and citizens, but also on their allies that are in range of the Russian troops or intelligence, but it is also important for Americans (e.g., Syria). The list of goals of the USA and in the past, and when the current President was part of the fight against ISIS (banned in Russia organization — approx. ed.), I’m not sure that this coincides with the interests of Moscow. You can think about what will happen in Ukraine.

— Will Russia take more courageous steps and to probe us?

Is a very complex topic. The Russians probably expected that they could with the Americans to some agreement, but the recently appointed special representative of the USA in Ukraine Kurt Volker (Kurt Volker) took a more Pro-Ukrainian stance than Washington has taken under Obama. He said that the US is seriously considering the possibility of supplying the Ukrainians defensive weapons. He also noted that on the territory of the two breakaway republics LNR and DND, there are more Russian tanks than there are in all countries of Western Europe. The Russians interpretiruya actions trump in this context and believe that they are contrary to his words about the need to normalize relations and positive two-hour conversation with Putin during the summit of “Big twenty”. So the Russian side can go on an aggravation, the potential for this she has.

— Putin has finally disappointed in trump?

— I think not. He’ll try to convince him, as the previous two US presidents.

— That’s the Russian policy? Or is it Putin’s personality, whose past is connected with the KGB?

Is a very good question: whoever finds the answer, will be able to make great analytical market. I’m leaning to the political explanation. Power base of President Putin is popular among the citizens. Elections to gain popularity among Russians, he undertook the operation in the Ukraine. I think this is the main factor that explains not only the Russian President but also other leaders of post-Soviet States.

— Putin has not yet given a clear answer to the question whether he is going to participate in the upcoming elections, but most observers the answer is clear. By what means he will to win over voters?

— There was a curious situation. Most analysts say that in 2013-2014 we have entered an era of global chaos. Russia and China began at that moment to challenge the system that created the United States. Putin has shown that he is able to go for a custom steps, for example, to violate the border of the largest after Russia in the post — Soviet state-Ukraine. It caught everyone off guard.

I remember the statements of European diplomats who said that we need to find a way that will allow Russia to abandon the irresponsible actions in the Crimea and at the same time save face. Now we are concerned about another topic: this is the EU trying to save face, to survive the failure of its policy towards Ukraine.

In addition, there was a President trump, who is often called unpredictable politician. He says that the American strategy in the field of foreign and security policy should not be made public, because it will be revealed to the enemies of the United States.

So, we are dealing with two figures, which can make unconventional decisions and go for unexpected moves. Putin has achieved his goals: his support in Russia is growing, it is now important that she not declined due to some new action.

— A few weeks ago I managed to speak with General Michael Hayden (Michael Hayden), a former head of the national security Agency and the CIA. I particularly remember one phrase: “I’m afraid that one day Donald trump will accidentally reveal some secret information.”

— This probability is, to some extent, this has already happened. Trump is the first politician who tries to ignore traditional media and maintain direct contact with their constituents using social networks.

Hayden criticizes trump for what he simplifies the intricacies of policy, trying to fit his remarks into 140 characters.

Unfortunately, the choice of communication affects the quality of the message. As trump has repeatedly demonstrated he doesn’t quite understand what is a mystery. There were two incidents. A few days ago, the President mentioned the secret CIA program which funded the training of militants fighting with the Islamists of ISIS in Syria. Many knew about it, but no American officials haven’t directly confirmed its existence. Trump did it on Twitter. He has the right to declassify some information, but usually these are special cases. Before that in the American press by a leak from the administration trump appeared information about the terrorist attack in Manchester, which is not distributed by the British authorities. This is a serious problem. Or trump is not suited to the role of the President, or he will have a lot to learn.

— This is great news for Moscow. In the Kremlin already drinking champagne?

— Time for us-Russian relations are complex. However, until real sanctions are still a long way, but was an unprecedented event, the consequences of which we will see in a few years. The law allows you to enter against Russia a number of new restrictions. Even if it will not dare trump, it can make the next President. The decision of Congress is very difficult to undo. The last time the lifting of such sanctions measures took 40 years. It is a specific tool for achieving specific political goals. The question is, does the trump, why to use it.