“I think [President Trump’s] foreign policy will be as much devoid of ideological clichés as possible,” Sharikov noted, adding that while refusing to cooperate with the Soviet Union during the Cold War was easy “because they are Communists,” these days Donald Trump just doesn’t care who to deal with, as long as they are not terrorists.
“Here he will find it easy to bargain and showcase his skills of a political horse trader all at the same time,” Sharikov said.
Viktoria Zhuravleva, a senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Global Economy and International Relations in Moscow, fully agreed with Sharikov.
“I too believe that the business model is going to be used to the maximum here. This is exactly the model [Trump] is trying to introduce to America’s foreign policy: maximum pragmatism and economic gain on the cheap,” she said.
Will Congress be a hindrance?
Viktoria Zhuravleva said that Donald Trump’s desire to mend fences with Moscow might face stiff resistance in Congress. “His choice [of Rex Tillerson] for Secretary of State underscores his wish to change America’s relations with Russia. The question is just how much these aspirations may be scaled down by Congress,” he added.
Many US politicians and those in the media community earlier worried about Rex Tillerson’s close ties with Russia. During the 1990s, he was managing ExxonMobil’s operations in Russia, in 2011 he inked a deal on Arctic drilling with Rosneft and in 2013 he was awarded the Order of Friendship personally by President Vladimir Putin.
There is a strong anti-Russian sentiment existing within the Republican establishment, which will not go anywhere with this upcoming change of guard in the White House. It could take several generations before the memories of the Cold War are finally put to rest.
"Neither is the Republican leadership prepared to acknowledge Russia’s special interests in the post-Soviet space, just like Russia is not ready to abandon its interests in the region. These are just a few sides of a deep-seated conflict that simply cannot be resolved by one man, no matter how powerful,” she emphasized.
Zhuravleva believes that as a goodwill gesture Donald Trump will remove some personal sanctions imposed on Russian officials and businessmen, but it would take him a superhuman effort to persuade Congress to lift at least some of the other sanctions imposed on Russia.
“I expect a thaw in relations, at least an emotional one, a restart of personal contacts between our two presidents, which is one of the cornerstones of Russian-American relations. Just how productive this is going to be is a very big question: much will depend on Russia’s position in this dialogue,” Viktoria Zhuravleva concluded.
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