Failure of Kremlin’s ‘Trump is Ours’ plan leading it to rethink Ukraine policy, Piontkovsky says

Putin, Trump, Hamburg, Germany, G-20, G20

 

Analysis & Opinion, Russia

The failure of Vladimir Putin to get a sit down with Donald Trump represents “the agony of [the Kremlin’s] ‘Trump is Ours’ special operation” and is leading some in Putin’s entourage to think about some kind of “hybrid capitulation” that both the US and the Russian people will accept, according to Andrey Piontkovsky.

Andrey Piontkovsky, prominent Russian scientist, political writer and analyst

Andrey Piontkovsky

Ever more people in the Russian capital, the commentator says, recognize that Putin’s play for Trump has “turned out to be a very big mistake. Had Hillary Clinton won, everything would have ended with another rest. In any case, the attitude of the US toward the Putin regime would be much more positive.”

That is because, Piontkovsky continues, the closeness between Putin and Trump at a time of Russian aggressiveness has mobilized “the majority of the military-political establishment” against Moscow. As a result, “Trump and [US Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson are not players on the Ukrainian issue.”

Others are setting the American agenda, and if Trump tries to be more upbeat, he will either be reined in or ignored, the Russian analyst suggests. All this has been clear since the July Black Hat Information Security conference at which participants stressed that

“Putin has practically declared a hybrid war against the West and above all against the US.”

The US had no choice but to respond, those taking part said, Piontkovsky argues; and that is what has happened in the months since that time, with US Congress pushing for more military assistance to Europe and Ukraine and taking a tougher line on sanctions and other restrictions on Russian activities.

The US and the West more generally has been “very slow” in reacting to Russian aggression, but now that it has, it is behaving more consistently and in a far tougher way than the Kremlin thought was possible, Piontkovsky says. But what is obvious is that the Kremlin does not have the resources to respond. Its reliance on boldness alone has now run out of steam.

Many in Putin’s entourage can see this, and they can see something else: Under the new sanctions package, their personal wealth largely kept abroad is now at risk. And they are thinking, Piontkovsky insists, on how they can keep that wealth without losing power in Russia by appearing to cave in to the US on Ukraine.

Unfortunately for them, there is no obvious way forward as long as Putin is in power.

They would be ready to withdraw from the Donbas if “the West would close its eyes on Crimea. But the West has made its position clear: “’we will never recognize the annexation of Crimea,’” just as the West never recognized the forcible annexation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by Stalin.

Putin isn’t going to agree to UN peacekeepers on the Russian border as some have proposed, and he isn’t going to escalate in any serious way the military conflict in Ukraine because, if he does, the West will provide Kyiv with lethal weapons, take Russia off the SWIFT interbank payment system, and impose other tools from its “large arsenal of sanctions.”

Consequently, what is being talked about in Moscow, is the possibility of some form of “hybrid capitulation – to find a formula for Moscow which the West would accept as capitulation” and drop plans for individual sanctions ‘but which the Kremlin could sell to its own population by TV as the latest victory.”

Whether this is possible with Putin or even possible at all remain open questions.

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Edited by: A. N.

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  • laker48

    A very decent analysis. The US Congress has practically made impossible for Trump or any future US president to lift a single US sanction it legislated, without drumming up 2/3 majorities in the House and the Senate. Putin and his gang of thieves are cornered and RuSSia will be likely sanctioned into a stone age if Putin stays at the helm of the fascist RuSSian Federation.

    • Czech Mate

      Ok, but I think the key is to speed up the process not to give dwarf that much time to rethink and regroup. But I am afraid it already happened. Deep down I fear the goal of powers that be is to keep him there just to preserve some sort of stability in Putleristan which from inside is a powder keg.

      Venezuelan scenario of steady and painful decline more than likely.

      • laker48

        RuSSia, with its GDP being 60% of California’s and 80% of Texas’s, has run out of any credible threats, and its world’s largest nuclear potential is useless unless we assume that the dwarf is suicidal. He has painted himself into the corner the very moment the gang of intoxicated baboons shot flight MH17 out of the skies of the terrorist-occupied part of Donbas in July 2014.

        • Czech Mate

          watch for the rising price of oil though! Obama admin did target that while orange bafoon is conveniently silent while stalling the send off of further sanctions.

          • laker48

            Worry not! About 20% of US shale drillers don’t pump due to bad weather and the US crude production is still close to all time highs. It’s the best time for US crude drillers to hedge their sell prices with future contracts before cranking up their production. Once they start pumping, OPEC will follow and the crude prices will drop. The glass ceiling is $60 per barrel of WTI.

          • Czech Mate

            let’s hope so but…would armed conflict between Saudis and Iranian Ayatollahs shake that up?

          • laker48

            No way! Crude prices dropped below $30 per barrel WTI before the Iranian sanctions were lifted. Once the US and Canada increase their output, the Saudis will follow suite. Iraq is almost ISIS-free and will soon resume pumping full blast. Perhaps we won’t see $30 per barrel very soon, but the $30-$50 trading band may be back in play by April next year. US refiners have just started their annual retooling and maintenance period that will last until early March, so the demand for crude will likely drop and the prices will follow.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            Don’t forget that refineries and other oil installations along the Gulf coast were shut down due to the hurricanes. This also caused a price increase and shipping of petrol, kero and diesel to the US from Europe to cover the shortfall. But with the hurricane season almost over these installations will be back in action soon- if, indeed, they aren’t already.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            The recent price increase has chiefly been caused by the current internal power struggle in Saudi Arabia, reflecting concerns that this may cause a drop in SA’s output. However, this is unlikely to be long-term and once the dust has settled in Riad things will be back to normal.

  • zorbatheturk

    Cannot appease the Putinator. RuSSian imperialism must be crushed once and for all.