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Trump's Strategy: Russia 'Likely to Reach Compromise With US on Syria, Ukraine'

© AP PhotoSyrian army soldiers standing on their military trucks chanting slogans in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad, as they enter a village near the town of Jisr al-Shughour, north of Damascus, Syria (File)
Syrian army soldiers standing on their military trucks chanting slogans in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad, as they enter a village near the town of Jisr al-Shughour, north of Damascus, Syria (File) - Sputnik International
President-elect Donald Trump is likely to shift the US focus from Eastern Europe and the Middle East to the Asia Pacific region, a Russian military expert told Sputnik. Trump's new foreign policy strategy may lead to a US-Russian compromise on both Ukraine and Syria.

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US President-elect Donald Trump is likely to increase the pressure on both America's allies and competitors in the Asia Pacific region, Russian military expert Vasily Kashin remarked in his recent interview with Sputnik.

Kashin referred to the opinion piece by Trump's policy advisers Alexander Gray and Peter Navarro published on November 7 in Foreign Policy magazine.

"Trump's approach is two-pronged. First, Trump will never again sacrifice the US economy on the altar of foreign policy by entering into bad trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement, allowing China into the World Trade Organization, and passing the proposed TPP," Gray and Navarro wrote.

"Second, Trump will steadfastly pursue a strategy of peace through strength, an axiom of Ronald Reagan that was abandoned under the Obama administration," they underscored.

Citing statements made by Trump and his advisers, Kashin suggested that "the new US administration will step up the pressure on its biggest regional allies — Japan and South Korea."

"Washington will try to force them to 'make a greater contribution to the common defense'," the expert said, "This pressure can cause certain resistance on the part of Tokyo and Seoul."

Indeed, speaking to Sputnik, Japanese academic Dr. Seijiro Takeshita of the University of Shizuoka warned Trump's idea of fair "burden sharing" among the US and its Asia-Pacific allies can backfire.

"If he [Trump] is asking for more it will also induce a lot of right-wing movements in Japan. They will say 'Hey, why won't we arm ourselves then, why should we listen to the United States?' Which again would not do anybody any good," the Japanese academic highlighted.

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However, according to Kashin, Trump's new approach toward Tokyo and Seoul is likely to bear fruit: following Trump's win Washington's Asia-Pacific allies have found themselves on thin ice; to cope with Trump's unpredictability they will begin to rely more on themselves and less on the US.

"In all likelihood, the US will bolster its military and military-technical support for Taiwan, dubbed by one of Trump's advisors a "beacon of democracy" in Asia," Kashin continued.

"Combined with the socio-political situation on the island which is currently unfavorable for China, this support will force the Chinese to concentrate large forces in areas adjacent to the island, thus creating a permanent point of tension there," the expert predicts.

Quoting Gray and Navarro, Kashin remarked that the Obama administration's policy of "strategic patience" with North Korea has indeed failed.

However, while China and Russia are urging the international community to enter into a dialogue with Pyongyang and abandon the policy of confrontation and sanctions toward North Korea, the US under Trump will most likely move in the opposite direction.

"It can be assumed that Washington will use the North Korean issue to increase pressure on China," Kashin told Sputnik, suggesting that the US may also impose unilateral economic sanctions on Chinese companies which have economic relations with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

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Simultaneously, Washington will launch a "charm offensive" against its Southeast Asian partners, the expert believes.

"The US will convince small Southeast Asian nations that Washington [under Trump] is a strong, stable and reliable ally which won't hesitate to come to their rescue at once and, apparently, will not ask too many questions about domestic policies and human rights issues. Beijing's mistakes will be used to present China as a 'hegemonic' power, which cannot be trusted," Kashin elaborated.

Trump and his advisers have repeatedly highlighted the importance of the "peace through strength" approach. According to the expert, it is hard to predict whether the Reagan-style foreign policy strategy will really bear any fruit.

Kashin noted that the success of the much discussed Reagan strategy has been largely overestimated.

While observers say that Reagan "defeated the USSR" and "won the Cold War" they usually turn a blind eye to the fact that the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s was caused primarily by internal factors, he pointed out.

Kashin drew attention to the fact that by 1987 Reagan had come to the conclusion that the policy of tough confrontation with Moscow had proven futile and embarked on a path of compromise with the US' longstanding rival. As a result, the two powers brought the Cold War to an end.

However, in the light of Trump's new Asia-Pacific policy, it is likely that the US will seek to diminish its presence in Eastern Europe and gain rapid military victories over radical Islamists in the Middle East, according to Kashin.

"This gives Russia a chance to reach compromises on the Syrian and Ukrainian problems with Washington on mutually acceptable terms," he stressed, adding that the potential US-Russian agreement may be followed by the removal of Western sanctions.

"However, the situation in the Asia-Pacific region will become much more explosive," the expert warned, "that to some extent will also affect the interests of Russia." 

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