Russia Reset

From May 30th, 2017 Posting

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Trump administration attempts to repair relations

By Diann Noles

“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?” – Psalm 2:1

The Cold War appears to be on again. But will the relationship between the United States and Russia warm up, or will it get colder?

“Well, when relations are at the lowest point, there’s nowhere to go but up,” National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said in a recent interview with ABC.

“The Trump administration came in with a set of problems and a level of disagreement that are more difficult to just put aside in the way the Bush and Obama administrations had been able to do,” said Stephen Sestanovich, a Foreign Relations expert and U.S. ambassador-at-large for the former Soviet Union from 1997 to 2001. “The obstacles in the way of a reset now are more serious than you had at the outset of any other administration since the end of the Cold War.” [MORE]

While many Democrats – and some moderate Republicans – blame the president for the decline in relations, experts also put a large share of the blame on Congress and former administrations.

“Every administration tries to improve relations, but there is a very basic fundamental fact: Across the geopolitical chessboard the U.S. and Russia have fundamentally very different interests,” said Harry Kazianis, a senior fellow for defense policy at the Center for the National Interest.

What are the issues coming between the two super-powers?


Not everyone in Washington, D.C. wants a closer relationship with Russia. Several key officials in the current administration, as well as members of Congress and the intelligence community, have articulated their objections to such a goal.

At the Senate hearing on election meddling by Moscow, former FBI director James Comey called Russia the “greatest threat of any nation on Earth, given their intent and capability.”

“Sadly, the campaign of Russophobia started by Barack Obama’s administration still lingers in the U.S.,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, speaking at a recent joint press conference with Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini.

Congressional Investigations of Election Meddling and Collusion

Although the U.S. Congress continues to investigate possible “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia, no evidence or supporting accusations against Russia has been presented so far.

“There is not a single fact (or) compelling evidence regarding Russia’s intervention,” Lavrov said. “If there are facts, we can discuss them, if there are no facts, we perceive this campaign as pure propaganda aimed at achieving not very plausible goals.”

NATO and Crimea

On April 12, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Putin and Lavrov to set the groundwork for cooperation before the G20 summit, scheduled to take place July 7-8 in Hamburg, Germany. Among other things, Tillerson and Lavrov discussed the ongoing fighting devastating eastern Ukraine, and the need to fully implement the Minsk ceasefire agreement.

However, after his two-hour meeting with Putin, Tillerson warned, “there is a low level of trust between our two countries. The world’s two foremost nuclear powers cannot have this kind of relationship.”

Conflict in Syria

Relations grew even worse between the U.S. and Russia after Syria – Russia’s ally – used chemical warfare against their own people, resulting in massive deaths. In response, the U.S. launched a missile airstrike against a Syrian airfield where approximately 100 Russian troops were also stationed. U.S. allies in Europe, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel praised the action.

But the U.S. missile strike angered Moscow and led Lavrov to declare that “it’s sad how damaging this is to the already bad relations between U.S. and Russia.”

“One could say that the level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved but has rather deteriorated,” Putin said in an interview broadcast on Russian television.

During their recent telephone call, Putin and President Trump resolved to deepen their cooperation on Syria to “create the background that would help launch a real peace process.”

Can the U.S. and Russia reset their relationship? It’s been tried before…

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to revive the relationship in 2009, presenting Lavrov with a “reset” button to symbolically restart U.S. – Russian relations. However, the Russian word on the button read “overcharged” instead of “reset.” The attempt at a reset didn’t work and relations between the two nations plummeted to Cold War-era lows by the end of the Obama administration.

Ever the optimist, President Trump tweeted, “Things will work out fine between the U.S.A. and Russia. At the right time, everyone will come to their senses and there will be lasting peace!”

This week, please pray:

  • For President Trump and Secretary of State Tillerson, as they seek common ground with Russia’s leaders.
  • For Congress as they carry out their investigations.
  • For the healing of America’s political divide.

Diann Noles is a former editor and writer for Christian publications in Tucson, AZ and Portland, OR. She served as Public Relations Director for a major Christian non-profit organization. She and her husband Bill live in Albany, OR and have two sons and five grandchildren.