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    President Donald Trump walks from the podium after speaking at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday, April 6, 2017, after the U.S. fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria Thursday night in retaliation for this week's gruesome chemical weapons attack against civilians.

    US-Russia Relations: 'What We Have Seen is Capitulation on Trump's Part'

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    United States President Donald Trump was intent on mending ties with Russia, but has apparently given up on this campaign pledge under the pressure from the Pentagon, political analyst and journalist Patrick Lawrence, a foreign affairs columnist at news website Salon and a contributing commentator at The Fiscal Times, told Radio Sputnik.

    "What we have just witnessed over here is a kind of capitulation on Trump's part. He had an idea for improving the relationship with Russia that he inherited from Obama. This was considered very undesirable by the military and national security bureaucracies. He has just surrendered on this point. That's what we have just watched," he said.

    The relationship between Moscow and Washington was damage following the 2014 foreign-sponsored coup in Kiev, the subsequent civil war in Ukraine and Crimea's peaceful and democratic reunification with Russia. The Syrian conflict has also served as a major point of contention between the two powers that support opposite sides of the six-year-long crisis.

    Trump wanted to reboot the tense relationship, but has largely been unable to deliver on this campaign promise.

    "The foreign policy in the United States is now being set more or less directly by the Pentagon and it is sent to the White House by way of Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, an active duty officer, who is Trump's National Security Advisor. Trump has very few people, possibly none, left around him who are countering the Pentagon's perspective. That's quite serious," the political analyst said. "We are seeing this with China and we are seeing this with Russia, the two most important relationships America has outside of the Atlantic alliance."

    Lawrence emphasized that the Pentagon "is not given to diplomacy," adding that the United States has a "military policy" instead of a "foreign policy."
    The analyst further said that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Russia was not meant to build trust between the two countries.

    "What we are watching with regard to Russia and China, the character of this administration's approach is very, very assertive and it's based on some shrouded measure of threat. Trump has said that if the Chinese don't help the US with North Korea, we'll go it alone. With regard to Russia, Tillerson is saying: 'You're either with us or you are with Assad.' These are veiled threats. I doubt Secretary Tillerson or anybody in the White House would ever use that term but that's what they amount to. I don't see that it's going to work. I don't see either Moscow or Beijing being responsive to this approach, but that's where we are. I find it very discouraging," he said.

    Lawrence also praised Moscow for its measured response to Washington's assertive foreign policy.

    "It is quite notable that the Putin administration is ever in search of restraint," he said, adding that Moscow is always open to cooperation. "The determinant lies in Washington. Does this administration wants to engage in diplomacy, cooperation on questions of mutual interest or not? Or is American primacy, hegemony if you like, the only consideration? It's up to the Americans really. In my read, Russia's perfectly willing to cooperate. I often find Moscow's patience quite remarkable to observe in the face of very offensive behavior and talk on the part of the Americans."

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    Tags:
    US-Russian relations, Syrian crisis, US foreign policy, Syrian conflict, Pentagon, Patrick Lawrence, Rex Tillerson, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, United States, Russia
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