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No Puppet
Still Waiting for Trump’s Russia Reset

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin on Tuesday, and according to the readout, the new administration intends to toe the line on Ukraine and uphold sanctions against Russia. RFE/RL:

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement after the meeting that Tillerson told Klimkin the U.S. sanctions against Russia would remain in place until “aggression is ceased,” until the Minsk peace deal to end fighting between Kyiv’s forces and Russia-backed separatists is implemented, and until Moscow returns to Kyiv control of Crimea and separatist-held areas of eastern Ukraine.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner largely confirmed the ministry’s characterization of the two diplomats’ discussions of sanctions.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has officially rebuked the Russians for their recent missile launch in violation of the INF treaty:

Russia has deployed a land-based cruise missile that violates the “spirit and intent” of an arms control treaty and poses a threat to NATO, Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Paul Selva said on Wednesday. […]

“The system itself presents a risk to most of our facilities in Europe and we believe that the Russians have deliberately deployed it in order to pose a threat to NATO and to facilities within the NATO area of responsibility,” Selva said during a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

Under normal circumstances, neither item would be particularly newsworthy; reaffirming commitments and calling out rivals for treaty violations are rudimentary elements of statecraft. But in a charged media landscape fixated on Trump’s Russia ties, it is worth noting once again that the administration has so far done nothing to tilt foreign policy in Russia’s favor. If Tillerson sticks to the commitment expressed to Klimkin, then sanctions are here to stay, and if advisors like General Selva hold sway in Trump’s security team, we can expect a conventionally hawkish policy toward Russia. This is hardly good news for Moscow, but it does cast further doubt on the dubious Manchurian candidate thesis.

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  • D4x

    The benefit of Proxy-Diplomacy, as: “Putin wishes Israel a happy Purim during meeting with Netanyahu, Israeli PM calls Russia a ‘partner’ in fighting radical Islam.”

    “…The Prime Minister singled out the efforts of both Israel and Russia against Sunni terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda as a central area of cooperation between the two powers. He also made a subtle reference, however, to Moscow’s client state, Iran, and the Tehran regime’s support of Shi’ite terror groups across the Middle East, including Hezbollah.

    “One of the things that we are fighting together is radical Islamic terrorism. Of course, in the past year there was significant progress
    in the fight against the radical Sunni Islamic terrorism led by [ISIS] and Al Qaeda; Russia has made a very important contribution. Naturally, we do not want this terrorism to be replaced by the radical Shi’ite Islamic terrorism led by Iran.”While Netanyahu did not explicitly mention Iran’s nuclear program, he did reference its recent ballistic missile tests and warning of the global dangers
    of Islamic fundamentalism in Iran.

    “I thank you for your Purim greetings. 2,500 years ago in ancient Persia there was an attempt to destroy the Jewish People that did not
    succeed and we mark this on the holiday of Purim. Today there is an attempt by Persia’s heir, Iran, to destroy the state of the Jews. They say this as clearly as possible and inscribe it on their ballistic missiles.

    “Of course, I would like to say as clearly as possible: Israel is a state today. We have an army and we are capable of defending
    ourselves. But the threat of radical Shi’ite Islam threatens us no less than it does the region and the peace of the world, and I know that we are partners in the desire to prevent any kind of victory by radical Islam of any sort.”

    David Rosenberg, 09/03/17 16:07

  • Andrew Allison

    As Tillerson surely knows, hell will freeze over before Crimea becomes part of Ukraine again. One can only hope that Russia has been led to believe that implementing the Minsk peace deal to end fighting between Kyiv’s forces and Russia-backed separatists and returning control of the separatist-held areas of eastern Ukraine to Kiev might do the trick.

  • Beauceron

    Trump’s hands are now tied as far as improving relations with Russia, at least for now.

    The media has gone nuts over what increasingly looks like a made up story about collusion with the Russians over the elections (as distinct from the Russians trying to influence the elections). If he does anything favorable with Russia, the vicious news cycle will just heat up again.

  • FriendlyGoat

    It is not a mental stretch to understand that Trump and Republicans HAPPILY welcomed the help of the Russian government in duping certain American voters via WikiLeaks and HAPPILY welcomed help from certain other American voters in duping the Russian government at the same time.

    • Fred

      Seems to me the problem with that theory is that your scenario puts Trump in a Catch-22. If the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, presumably the Russians have proof, which they could release to the public at any time. So if Trump gives the Russians a quid pro quo, the public knows he colluded. If he double crosses them, they release their proof and the public still knows. If I’m smart enough to figure that out, I have a hard time believing that no one in the Trump campaign was. I think you lefties are chasing a Chimera on this one.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Us lefties understand that the 2016 equivalent of the famous Watergate burglary took place with stolen information funneled to WikiLeaks—–all against Clinton. We understand that this stolen material probably flipped our national election and the stealing of it was met with cheers from Republicans. Now, either the Russians did the burglary for their own reasons and Republicans are suddenly disinterested in pursuing the crime since they benefitted from it, or Republicans did the burglary themselves. Either way, please stop asking us to fuggedaboudit. You sure as heck wouldn’t if this had been done to you.

        • Tom

          Of course not. But you’d also be cheering if it had been done to Republicans.
          Partisanship is a bipartisan issue.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Situational ethics work so much better for Church Incorporated these days than in times past. Once upon a time it did not allow itself to celebrate crookedness on the grounds that “Hey, other people are probably crooked, too.”

          • Tom

            You’re confusing description with prescription.
            And there’s no “probably” here.

          • FriendlyGoat

            And you’re still defending the Church going lower and lower in its rationalizations.

          • Tom

            Nominate a perceived existential threat, anticipate a reaction based on that.
            Deal with it.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Take that argument to people who are damaged in this process. I’m not one of them, remember?

          • Tom

            That is eminently debatable.

        • sportutegirl

          Remember when Sarah Palin’s emails were stolen by Dems? Did you fuggedaboudit then? Oh, BTW, everyone in the MSM went over every single Palin email with a fine tooth comb and found nothing objectionable. This is the difference — Clinton and the Dems emails revealed how corrupt they are. Republicans are clean and have nothing to hide. Democrats are corrupt.

          • FriendlyGoat

            The health insurance saga in America is about to reveal how clean Republicans are. That will be followed by the tax reform giveaway to the richest people in the country, which will be followed by the budget cuts and bad court decisions negatively affecting most ordinary people You’re side is not gonna look as “clean” as you think. The “days of disclosure” are upon us with respect to what you celebrate in spin.

          • CosmotKat

            “That will be followed by the tax reform giveaway to the richest people in the country”

            That was done in the 2010. Now it’s time to take care of the people Democrats only pretend to care about, goat. Just ask President Mrs. Bill Clinton.

        • CosmotKat

          “Us lefties understand that the 2016 equivalent of the famous Watergate burglary took place with stolen information funneled to WikiLeaks—–all against Clinton.”

          There is no equivalence with Watergate. What lefties like you cannot cope with is that it was an inside job….inside the inept and corrupt Democratic party. Yet you want Americans to believe this pathetic campaign loss was done by Republicans in collusion with Russia? What’s most revealing in these emails is the disdain Democrats have for anyone that disagrees with them. The emails revealed the corruption, the sense of entitlement and the passions that drive lefties like you goat…..self-righteousness and hate. Did this revelation swing the vote, could be since 67% of the American people already felt Clinton was a liar, dishonest, and untrustworthy and then to see, in writing, how corrupt and dishonest the entire party is drove many to find someone who cares about their issues and that was President Trump.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Most of the Trump voters who are not already rich are going to be screwed over by the governance they get. This will become more clear as time goes by.

          • CosmotKat

            You are projecting, Goat. We were screwed from 2009 to Jan 20, 2017, not only by the government and politically aligned rent seeking corporations, but by a corrupt administration who favored ideology over country and legal and illegal immigrants over citizens.

        • Fred

          Sorry Goat, obssess about it as you will, there’s just no there there. And keep in mind, the Russians may have leaked the emails, but even the Democrats admit the Russians didn’t write them. You don’t want the public to know your campaign director is a vile anti-catholic bigot? How about not hiring a vile anti-catholic bigot as campaign director. You don’t want Bernie supporters to know you stabbed them in the back? How about not stabbing them in the back. You don’t want the public to know high-ups in your campaign discuss uncontitutionally interfering with an intitutional church? How about telling them not to do it or better yet, getting better campaign staff. Ya know, I bet all that’s just crazy enough to work.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Show America all the unfiltered inside communications at RNC, the “Freedom Caucus” and the Trump campaign and we’ll have a better conversation.

          • Fred

            Well, if the Republicans are no cleaner than the Democrats, at least they are smart enough not to fall for a phishing email. That alone would be good enough for me to vote R over D.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I have to suspect you were going to vote R over D anyway for your own reasons.

          • Fred

            You got me 🙂

          • Tom

            Yeah, but he doesn’t want to admit that it’s the establishment’s fault that the people decided to revolt.
            Part of that, mind you, is because he doesn’t want to admit that his crew is part of the establishment.

    • Ray Runge

      Confused, you are. HRC along with an assist from Obama, DOJ and FBI attempted to dupe the American about misuse of classifird information via private email server. The International Grifting by SOS and Clinton foundation was fully displayed by the emails but the “duping” was not by Wikileaks or Trump.

  • Kevin

    Maybe. Trump could still pull off a grand bargain with Putin if Putin offers a worthwhile deal. What Trump seems unlikely to do is give Putin a pass in return for hopes and platitudes. Whether Putin is willing to consider a worthwhile deal is another question.

  • rheddles

    The Trump administration might do nothing to tilt foreign policy in Russia’s favor, but the JCS might.

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