Trump intends to offer Putin the sanctions lift in exchange for a deal on a nuclear arms cut. But these two issues are totally unrelated. Sanctions were introduced against the Russian Federation for its violation of international law, armed aggression against Ukraine, and the annexation of Crimea. At the same time, strategic security (or balance) issues are governed by separate international – multilateral or bilateral –treaties between the U.S. and Russia.
Obviously, these issues are tied up together only in the minds of Donald Trump’s team or his own. In practice, they never overlap.
I believe that this is a dead-end approach because today, the Kremlin threatens the United States not only with nuclear missiles but it also resorts to a wider range of aggressive acts, for example, cyber meddling, interference in the political system, and so on. In fact, Russia applies the same tools against the United States as it does against Ukraine. And the lifting of sanctions related to its aggression against Ukraine will by no means cancel the Russian aggression or its plans to ignite a U.S.-EU conflict, and neither will it settle the confrontation that exists between the U.S. and Russia in the Middle East, etc.
Therefore, Trump’s idea seems to be a weird quid pro quo and an attempt to tie up together the issues too different. So it is unlikely to have any impact.
Today, the Kremlin threatens the United States not only with nuclear missiles but it also resorts to a wider range of aggressive acts
Even more so, if Donald Trump really seeks to lift Russia sanctions, it will be extremely difficult for him to simply enforce his presidential powers – he will also face the challenge of convincing the Congress. After all, it was the Congress which introduced most of the sanctions against Russia. He will have to bring up some solid and actual reasons why the Congress should alter its stance.
Thus, the very plans and promises of Donald Trump sound strange and don’t seem realistic so far.
Judging from the Kremlin’s first reaction to Trump’s idea [that lifting sanctions is not Russia’s ultimate goal, for which they should sacrifice anything, all the more security – UNIAN], we can say that the Russians are simply bargaining. That’s because they surely need the sanctions lifted. But above all, they are interested in the abolition of sanctions in the financial sector, as well as oil and gas-related restrictions. After all, it’s this package of measures which inflict the gravest economic damage and deprive Moscow of funds for development. So, in fact, a situation is being created leading to the fact that in the future, Russia will lose the opportunity to confront the U.S. or the Europeans, because this all undermines its resource base.
So the Russians are indeed very interested in the sanctions lift.
With regard to nuclear disarmament, it is unlikely that getting rid of nuclear weapons is anywhere close to being an option for Russia. In fact, the only reason Russia claims the status of a superpower is that it has nuclear weapons at its disposal. In this sense, this may be a cunning move by The Donald. That is, if Trump grabs this “trump card” out of Russia’s deck, the Kremlin will ultimately lose its position on global stage. It is obvious that both economically and politically, without its nukes Russia is just a dwarf.
The only reason Russia claims the status of a superpower is that it has nuclear weapons at its disposal
Maybe that is why the Russian leaders’ reaction was rather restrained because first, Russia would like to understand, of what kind of nuclear arms cut Trump is talking about. If it is something symbolic, then, of course, the Russians can play along for it, but if it’s anything significant, they will not go for it, because in this case. Russia will lose too much.
Bohdan Yaremenko is a Ukrainian diplomat, chairman of the board of Maidan of Foreign Affairs Foundation.