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No Puppet
Trump and EU Agree on Russia Sanctions

The theory that Trump is in the thrall of Putin took another blow today, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the EU’s Federhica Mogherini agreed to uphold current Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia. Wall Street Journal:

The Trump administration and European officials agree on the need to keep sanctions in place against Russia until a two-year-old cease-fire agreement for the Ukraine conflict is fully implemented, the European Union’s foreign policy chief said Friday.

The EU’s high representative in charge of foreign policy Federica Mogherini, speaking to reporters after Thursday meetings with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other senior Trump administration officials, said the U.S. and EU are united in their policy to bring about an end to violence in Eastern Ukraine.

“We agreed on the need to have full implementation of the Minsk agreement and on the fact that sanctions are linked to the full implementation of that agreement,” she said.

The idea, whispered in grave tones around Washington, that Trump would be likely to immediately sell out Ukraine and embrace Russia looks increasingly dubious in the early days of the new administration. As we noted last week, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s speech at the Security Council provided a significant tell that Trump’s Russia policy may be more continuous with the Obama administration’s than commonly assumed. And Tillerson’s meeting with Mogherini today suggests that the State Department and UN Mission are on the same page.

Of course, this does not mean that Trump will indefinitely pursue the same Russia policies as the last administration. Trump still seems interested in exploring new avenues of cooperation with Moscow, and he may re-evaluate existing sanctions not related to the Ukraine conflict, including those imposed by President Obama at the end of his tenure. Still, there have been few signs of the rapid policy shift so breathlessly predicted by many in the media. If Trump does change course on Russia, it is likely to be a gradual reorientation, not a sudden about-face.

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  • Dhako

    Again, the alleged brilliant minds (or should that be the best and the brightest of their class) who writes for this parish, seems to be losing the woods for the trees where Trump’s administration’s Russian policies is concern. In other words, the issue is simply not that the Russians are not looking for a relieve from the sanctions. But, rather, that the Russians are fishing for a bigger policy scalp” than trifling with a European’s heavily-influenced sanctions. And by that I mean, to Mr Putin, the issue – the single issue – that keeps him awake at night is not the sanction. But rather how he is going to use his “investment” (in the form of pulling all the stops to get Mr Trump into the US’s presidency) so that he will get the US to play ball in accepting a “sphere-of-influence” for Russia, without the US doing anything to complicates that agenda at worse. Or at best, even helping it, in the form that is replica of Yalta kind of a deal. This is Putin’s final and only agenda in which he broke all things so that, his “puppet” will one day start playing ball with him from White-House. Now, that being the case, the issue of sanction is secondary for him. Which means, you do not waste your “Ace Card” (which is what Trump is to Putin) on some trifling second order issue.

    Hence, Putin is ruthless enough not to embarrass his stooge by asking him to deliver a secondary agenda, when he can wait (and carry the burden of being inflicted with this sanction in the mean-time) till the political stars are align so that, a general summit to hash out this “Yalta 2.0 kind of deal could be negotiated. And, what is delicious in that calculation is that, the sanction will by then, become irrelevant, either through the fact the Europeans would have change their mind by then due to the internal division of their own. Or they will be the casualty of of that grand deal, which in effect, will mean (at least according to what Putin wants) what happens inside of his “sphere-of-influence” is not something anyone else need to bother themselves with.

    And, since, by all likelihood, Ukraine will be the casualty of that kind of Yalta 2.0 deal, simply means the sanction to keep Ukraine with its territorial integrity being intact, will not make sense, since by the way the Yalta 2.0 deal will be structure will effectively mean that Ukraine will be intact and independent, but most crucially of all, it will be – by deeds and by intent – assigned to the Russian’s sphere-of-influence. Which in turn will mean, Moscow, need not worry as to who is going to be its president; or for that matter, worry about whether EU or NATO will be come calling at the door of Kiev with the hope of stealing her from the Russian’s column.

    This is the game that is afoot with Mr Putin, not mere concern about sanction, which is what you are so desperate to believe that the Russians care about it, so that, any tid-bit information that suggest that the American’s government is leaving this sanction in place, can then be trumpeted as if it signifies that Mr Trump is not some puppet of Putin, when in fact, the deal he will cooking with him, once their summit is held, will show how much the US has been compromised by the election of Mr Trump to the presidency of the US with the open help of Mr Putin.

    • Joe Jones

      This comment is nothing but Democrat alt-left talking points, designed to hide why Hillary was shockingly defeated by a character like Trump. Did Soros send you the text?

      • Tom

        It’s Dhako. He’s a shill for Xi Jinping’s government, desperately begging us all to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

        • Joseph DeMarzo

          Obama played footsie with Putin for years to assure help on Iran deal and Syria “red line”.

          Putin played him like a fiddle, and now Putin is the bogeyman. Sad!

  • Disappeared4x

    Timing for Trump Meets Putin depends on POTUS travel plans to Europe in May (G-7 in Italy May 26-27, and NATO on Brussels May 24-25) and July (G-20 in Hamburg July 7-8, and UK State Visit), or when FLOTUS can join him, because, if the meet with Putin is in Slovenia, she really also has to go. Earlier, Reuters reported: Fri Feb 10, 2017 | 10:52am EST “Putin says could meet Trump in Slovenia, but choice not Moscow’s alone By Olesya Astakhova | MOSCOW Slovenia would be a good place for a first meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, Russia’s Vladimir Putin said on Friday, but he said the choice of venue would not be Moscow’s alone.

    Putin made the comments after Slovenian President Borut Pahor offered Ljubljana, his country’s capital, as a venue for a meeting
    between the Russian and U.S. leaders who have not met since Trump’s inauguration last month.

    Trump and Putin have both said they would like to try to mend battered U.S.-Russia ties, which fell to their lowest level since the Cold
    War after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.

    Putin made it clear that no date for such a meeting had yet been agreed, but said he was keen to try to restore Russian-U.S. relations in

    “As regards Ljubljana, Slovenia in general, it is of course a brilliant place to have a dialogue of such a sort. But it doesn’t depend only on us, it depends on a whole series of circumstances,” Putin told reporters after meeting Pahor in Moscow.

    “If these meetings ever happen, we don’t have anything against Ljubljana,” Putin said.

    European Union member state Slovenia was the venue for the first meeting between George W. Bush and Putin in 2001 where the then American leader made what became a famous comment about looking Putin in the eye and getting “a sense of his soul.”

    It is also where Melania Trump, the U.S. president’s wife, grew up.

    The Kremlin sees Slovenia as an ally in its quest to end Western sanctions over the Ukraine conflict.

    Russia was a big export market for Slovenian food products before the Ukraine crisis, and Slovenia remains keen to be a transit country
    for Russian gas supplies to southern Europe.”

    (Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Writing by Alexander Winning; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

  • Do you think the sanctions are justified? I honestly don’t want Russia as our enemy if we can help it.

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