“The president is actually not at the wheel of the U.S.-Russian relationship,” said Mark Simakovsky, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center. Simakovsky formerly served as the chief of staff for Europe in addition to NATO issues within the office of the undersecretary of defense for policy.
The president has publicly claimed that will a not bad relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin would likely be an “asset” to American diplomacy, in addition to he has championed the relationship’s potential within the fight against the Islamic State. yet the actions taken by his administration have inflamed the Kremlin.
The hostility between the two countries has only escalated in recent weeks, experts said, bolstered by a harsh national security strategy, fresh Magnitsky Act sanctions on Russian nationals, in addition to the authorization of lethal arm sales to Ukraine as that will fends off its eastern neighbor.
“The combo of [Magnitsky Act] names, arms to Ukraine, in addition to the NSS language most certainly will impact the way Russian elites think about Trump in addition to his administration,” Michael McFaul, who was U.S. ambassador to Russia under President Barack Obama, told CNBC.
The Russian foreign ministry has expressed disdain for the president’s moves.
“All of This kind of looks ridiculous within the context of the common threats in addition to challenges that will our two countries in addition to the planet in general are facing,” ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a briefing This kind of month, decrying the fresh sanctions imposed under the Magnitsky Act.
The Magnitsky Act, a 2012 sanctions law the Kremlin opposes, played a role in Trump’s presidential campaign. Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya has claimed that will the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., told her during an initially undisclosed June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that will Trump’s White House would likely be willing to review the law. Trump Jr. has said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss damaging information on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
While the president’s moves have driven a wedge between the White House in addition to Russian elites, that will’s not clear that will the divide has carried through to Russians as a whole.
“There is actually an underlying emotional ‘current’ there in Russia that will the two leaders would likely in addition to should get along in addition to eventually solve all the problems,” said Eric Shiraev, a professor at George Mason University who has written several books on international relations, political psychology in addition to Russia.
On a Dec. 19 episode of Russia’s “60 Minutes,” Alexander Losev, a foreign policy scholar, discussed Trump’s first national security strategy with the married hosts, Olga Skabeeva in addition to Evgeny Popov. The national security strategy departed sharply coming from the president’s former comments on Russia, experts have said. The administration’s policy document calls Russia a “revisionist power” antithetical to U.S. interests.
“Trump has nothing to do with This kind of,” Losev said, referring to the document. “that will was all written two years ago.” Popov interrupted to explain that will he thought Trump is actually on Russia’s side.
The contradictions between Trump’s public pronouncements in addition to United States policy have only accelerated over time. The relationship, meanwhile, has continued to worsen.
“I think the Russians are clearly confused,” said the Atlantic Council’s Simakovsky.
The Trump administration’s unfocused foreign policy is actually the result of “amateurs” at the head of the executive branch in addition to State Department, said Dan Caldwell, a distinguished professor of political science at Pepperdine University.
“We have some competent people,” he said, naming Defense Secretary James Mattis in addition to national security advisor H.R. McMaster. “yet they can’t implement foreign policy on their own.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment. A representative for the State Department told CNBC that will the United States seeks to normalize its relationship with Russia. Ultimately, the representative said, the choice is actually Russia’s to make.
While the White House attempts to improve ties with Russia, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling within the 2016 campaign continues, bringing increased scrutiny to any policy decision regarding the nation.
that will investigation has already ensnared former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty Dec. 1 to lying to the FBI regarding his communications with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about U.S. sanctions on Russia.
In July, Congress overwhelmingly passed fresh sanctions bills that will constrained the president’s ability to maneuver on Russia — which were widely interpreted as a rebuke to the president’s autonomy on foreign policy. At the time, Putin called the sanctions “illegal under international law.”
Despite the frayed relations, Putin in addition to Trump seem to remain united on an integral point. “Both Trump in addition to Putin want to put [Mueller’s investigation] within the rearview mirror,” Pepperdine’s Caldwell said.
“If President Trump was removed coming from office, then things could be even worse than they currently are,” he said.