The presidents of Russia and the US, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, will hold a meeting tomorrow on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg. As expected, the meeting will be mainly focused on the situation in Ukraine and the settlement of the Syrian crisis. Vestnik Kavkaza talked with Russian political scientists and diplomats about what to expect from this meeting of the leaders of the two countries.
The President of the National Strategy Institute, Mikhail Remizov, stressed that Russian-US relations has very narrow policy space. "The best that Putin and Trump could count on is to agree on measures to prevent conflict and minimize mutual damage. Any meaningful, serious agreements between them can only be informal and rather vague now," he warned.
"I do not consider the return of diplomatic compounds, because, in my opinion, it's not serious to discuss it as a concession, because it's a question of diplomatic etiquette. Putin and Trump can do little about the new agenda," Mikhail Remizov stressed, adding that Trump continues to act in relation to Russia within the framework of the concept that he used during his pre-election campaign.
"Under this concept, Russia is not one of the main threats, and can be a resource for countering such threats under certain conditions. The main obvious threat is international terrorism, while the main non-articulated strategic threat to the US economy and politics is China. The Trump team think in both cases that Russia can be useful for the US strategy of containing these threats. For Trump, the anti-Russian demarches and initiatives of the American establishment are a factor in strengthening his negotiating positions in relations with Moscow, and he seeks to speak with us as a partner, but from a position of strength - not in military terms, but in terms of leverages," President of the National Strategy Institute Mikhail Remizov noted.
The director of the Center for Political Information, Alexei Mukhin, also pointed out that Trump did not have any room for maneuver in relation to Russia. "I do not think there is much to expect from the meeting of the presidents in Hamburg. Donald Trump is very limited in his political maneuvers, and, apparently, he has nothing to offer Putin but a strong man's handshake," he said.
Due to the current domestic political situation in the United States the building of relations with Russia falls out of the field of prime interests of the US president. "I think that Trump does not have time for Russia now. His opponents are so hard on him that he does almost everything they say, including, for example, dropping the 'mother of all bombs' on Afghanistan and attacking the Syrian base with cruise missiles," Alexei Mukhin said.
The deputy head of the Council of the Russian Diplomats Association, Andrey Baklanov, in turn, noted that their meeting is important in itself. "There has been an absolutely abnormal situation in our relations. For six months the leaders of the two most important countries have not exchanged a single visit, although the situation in the world is very disturbing and requires concerted actions. This meeting of Putin and Trump in Hamburg will mark the possible launching pad for moving to a more balanced situation in the Middle East, Europe and other difficult regions," he noted.
The diplomat drew attention to the fact that because of the constant surge in crisis situations in the world, Moscow and Washington cannot start to resolve the Russian-US issues. "We must have a positive agenda, work on which we haven't even started yet. The internal political situation in the US prevents Trump from giving any assurances to Putin. Apparently, these six months have resulted in concerns about how his words will be interpreted by the power structures and in the media," Andrei Baklanov stressed.
"Trump could hardly predict that instead of leading the state, he would have to spend a lot of effort to achieve consistency of positions and correct interpretation of his actions. Meeting with Putin under such conditions cannot be subject to additional domestic political restrictions," the diplomat said.
"Donald Trump has not yet worked out the language he will use in future when interacting with the Russian Federation. I think that this meeting is important, in particular, because it will help to work out Trump's interaction with his own authoritative structures for dealing with Russia. Now there is an abnormal situation that negatively affects the image of the US, weakening the country's authority," the deputy head of the Council of the Russian Diplomats Association concluded.