21:55 GMT26 January 2020
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    Relations between Moscow and Washington have been alarmingly strained, but they could improve under the next US administration, analysts told RIA Novosti, adding that much will depend on Donald Trump's foreign policy team and his policies.

    Kurk Dorsey, Professor of History and the History Graduate Program Director at the University of New Hampshire, said that relations between Russia and the United States would improve in the short term, since Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin "clearly respect each other." The analyst also warned that Trump's policies are hard to predict, suggesting that the next US president might not have determined what they would be yet.

    Dorsey added that Trump would review anti-Russian sanctions, but would not simply lift them, but would instead ask Russia for something in return. He did not specify what Washington could demand.

    For his part, Steven Lamy, Professor of International Relations at University of Southern California, said that "anti-Putin rhetoric" could become less pronounced. He was more optimistic when it came to sanctions, saying that the next administration could partially lift some of the restrictive measures imposed on Moscow in those areas where it suits Washington's interests.

    Lamy expressed doubt that Washington's relations with Moscow would significantly improve, adding that much will depend on Trump's foreign policy team. The analyst said that although we do not know specific names yet, the team will likely contain supporters of classical realism, who will be "concerned with the balance of power issue in the region."

    Donald Trump is reported to be considering several options for the next secretary of state, including Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Sen. Bob Corker, current chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.

    The international relations scholar also said that Trump's overall foreign policy will likely amount to "selective engagement," meaning that the next administration will pursue a less assertive agenda overseas.

    The Syrian crisis has been a major point of contention between the Obama administration and the Kremlin. However, a decision to conduct joint counterterrorism operations in the Middle East could become "the first step" towards better relations between Russia and the United States, Lamy added.

    This is something that Moscow has long advocated for. Russian officials have repeatedly said that international terrorism is the key threat to all mankind and urged the international community to join forces in a bid to tackle this challenge.

    Under the new administration, Washington could also review its stance on President Bashar al-Assad. US officials have pursued a strategy that has been contingent on Assad resigning since 2011. Washington's "Assad must go" mantra has occasionally receded into the background, but it has been at the core of America's approach to Syria ever since a foreign-sponsored insurgency morphed into a war.

    Both Lamy and Dorsey suggested that Trump could be more flexible on the Assad issue.

    Trump appears to opt for a more sensible approach to the Syrian crisis. In addition, there will be no "humanitarian hawks" like US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and US National Security Advisor Susan Rice on his foreign policy team, Lamy said.

    However, Dorsey doubted that Russia and the US would launch joint operations in Syria.


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    Syrian crisis, US foreign policy, US-Russia relations, foreign policy, Kurk Dorsey, Steven Lamy, Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, United States, Russia
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