Korean crisis seen opening a way for new Trump-Putin rapprochement

Putin-Trump meeting in Hamburg, Germany in July 2017 (Image: screen capture)

Putin-Trump meeting in Hamburg, Germany in July 2017 (Image: screen capture) 

Analysis & Opinion, Politics, Russia

Short of war, the largest fallout from the intensifying Korean crisis is likely to be a new rapprochement between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, according to a Ukrainian analyst, who suggests that under the cover of the threat of a nuclear conflict the US president and his Kremlin counterpart may do a deal at Ukraine’s expense.

In a commentary for Strana.ua, Oleh Voloshin says that Trump has signaled he still hopes for a big deal with Putin, condemning US Congress for adopting new sanctions against Russia and praising Putin for saving the US government money by expelling American diplomats.

Trump’s second action is especially indicative. On the one hand, it highlights the contempt of the current administration for the diplomatic service whose members are viewed with distaste by many ordinary Americans who form the current American president’s political base.

On the other, Voloshin argues, it demonstrates that Trump has not given up on his fundamental idea that partnership with Moscow is something that would be good for the US and that he will use almost any development in the world to promote that idea both within his administration and more generally.

In almost any other circumstances, no American president would dare praise a Kremlin leader for expelling US diplomats, but now, faced with the crisis in Korea, the situation has changed. “If Russia is viewed by its opponents as a threat to democracy and the existing world order, North Korea looks like a threat to the very existence of the US.”

And that creates a definite basis for expanding cooperation with Moscow as far as Trump is concerned, the Ukrainian analyst says.

Russia’s willingness to vote for a UN Security Council resolution imposing harsh sanctions on North Korea shows that Moscow is quite open to this possibility. More than that, this Russian vote “allows Trump to temporarily put off the imposition of new anti-Russian sanctions.”

Kim Jong Un, the "Supreme Leader" of North Korea, supervises the April 22 test-launch of a missile from a submerged platform. (Image source: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un, the “Supreme Leader” of North Korea, supervises the April 22 test-launch of a missile from a submerged platform. (Image source: KCNA)

Moreover, Voloshin continues, Moscow has shown itself willing to cooperate with the US in Syria, and “this allows the Trump command to make the argument that partnership with Moscow from a position of strength is more useful than the application of force (including economic) to punish Russia for past sins.”

All of this taken together, however, “doesn’t mean that a total rapprochement between Moscow and Washington is possible,” at least anytime soon. Their differences are too great for that, as one or the other would have to sacrifice things that are the core values of these respective regimes.

But it does mean that Trump and Putin will be looking for places where they can make progress, and one of the most obvious is the pursuit of some kind of compromise on Ukraine. That is all the more likely given European pressures for an accord and given the Kremlin’s ostensible “flexibility” on such issues.

In short, Ukraine faces a situation very different from what is policy makers assume is the case. “Today there is no united front against Russia,” Voloshin says. “Everyone is maneuvering and seeking points of contact. This by itself is a serious test” for Kyiv, and one more way that the Korean crisis is affecting outcomes in many other parts of the world.

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Edited by: A. N.

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  • zorbatheturk

    RuSSia created the North Korean mess. And where did the Norks get their nuclear weapons tech from??? It was not from the Chinks.

  • Steve

    “Praising Putin for saving the US government money by expelling American diplomats.”

    The author Voloshin apparently does not understand satire and failed to point out that in a counter move Trump has ordered Russia to close its Consulate Office.

    “Trump’s second action is especially indicative. On the one hand, it highlights the contempt of the current administration for the diplomatic service whose members are viewed with distaste by many ordinary Americans who form the current American president’s political base.”

    If you have ever dealt with the American Embassy in Kyiv you would understand that. And please don’t insult the American People. Doesn’t go over very well.

    Mr. Voloshin you sound like a demagogue. And oh yes you forgot to mention Ukraine’s OPEN support for Hillary Clinton and a DNC operative meeting with officials at the UA Embassy in D.C. to be given information on Manafort. Sounds like interference in another countries election process.

    For the record I did NOT vote for either Clinton or Trump.

    • laker48

      Totally concur. Had Ukraine had serious politically oriented minds, it wouldn’t have been an almost Third World country comparable with Moldova or Kazakhstan. All these things happen 25 years after it became an independent state. The only real force ruling Ukraine is ubiquitous, Byzantine corruption of epic proportions. Before RuSSia struck, Ukraine was a failed state with no army, no working government and no civil society. The Maidan revolution was an act of desperation that tried to salvage what was possible to salvage in a country where there was hardly anything left to steal. Even the illegal annexation of Crimea and hybrid war in its south-east hasn’t stopped this festival of larceny and incompetence from going on almost uninterrupted and unhindered.

      • veth

        The world’s largest flag of Ichkeria, a Chechen anti-Kremlin breakaway republic in Russia’s Northern Caucasus, was spread out in Kyiv on Aug. 13.

        A giant green banner sized 22 by 33 meters, with red and white stripes and a coat of arms depicting a Caucasian wolf, was spread out by Ukraine’s Presidential Regiment servicemen during a rally at Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square.

        The meeting was kicked off by Chechen activists living in Ukraine, particularly by those opposing the Kremlin-supported authoritarian regime of Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya and seeking independence from Russia to impose a secular democratic republic.

        The Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, formerly an autonomy within Russia, was pronounced following the downfall of the Soviet Union in 1991. However, it remained unrecognized and was eventually crushed down by Russian federal troops after two devastating wars of 1994-1996 and 1999-2000, known for widespread war crimes and atrocities.

        Following the beginning of Russia’s war in Donbas, many of exiled Chechen fighters and activists joined Ukraine’s forces in fighting against Russian-backed militants, forming the Dzhokhar Dudaev Battalion named after the first president of Ichkeria, killed by Russian airstrike in April 1996.

        “This rally symbolizes the fact that despite all efforts, our enemies failed to break our will for victory and our spirit,” Amina Okueva, a former Dzhokhar Dudaev Battalion fighter said on the event’s Facebook page.

        Also, the meeting takes place amid 21st anniversary of retaking the capital city of Grozny by the Chechen militia. During an assault campaign between Aug. 6-20, 1996, just 850 guerilla fighters managed to defeat 6,000 heavily armed Russian troops deployed in the destroyed city and build on the progress to making Moscow sign the Khasavyurt Accord ending the First Chechen War.

        Since Chechens is predominantly a Muslim nation, an Islamic prayer for those fighting for freedom was delivered at Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square by Ukraine’s Mufti Said Ismagilov.

        The meeting at the Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square was also attended by the Georgian National Legion, a combat unit formed by citizens of Georgia fighting on the eastern front as an integrated company within the Ukraine’s Armed Forces 54th Brigade.

        Also, as a representative of another nation whose land is now also occupied by Russia, Refat Chubarov, chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, labeled as an extremist organization in Russian Federation, delivered a speech at the rally.

        “Starting from the moment the Russian army began killing their own citizens, when it invaded the sovereign nations of Georgia, Ukraine, annexed the Crimea, Russia got on a path of breakdown and self-destruct,” the Crimean leader said. “Soon it will disintegrate, and dozens of independent states with unroll their flags of freedom in their streets and squares.”

        • laker48

          It’s coming. There’s an almost 100 thousand strong Chechen refugee community in Poland. They’re Muslims and they don’t create any serious problems except for occasional brawls that are few and far between.

  • Dagwood Bumstead

    Pedo Putolini can hope for a rapprochement all he wants. But if he does, he doesn’t understand that Trump has to answer to Congress, which is in no mood to be conciliatory- and rightly so.
    The dwarf badly needs a lesson in civics.

    • zorbatheturk

      I don’t think there exists a RuSSian word for civics.

  • veth