NEWSWATCH: “A Visit to Russia: Can Relations Be Improved? If the administration wants to work with Moscow, it will find a willing though admittedly difficult partner” – The National Interest/ Paul J. Saunders

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“… Beyond Russia’s interference, of course, U.S. and Russian officials would have to develop workable and sustainable solutions to at least some of the issues that now divide them. Setting aside the 2016 presidential election, the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine is probably the most difficult of these. U.S.-Russian differences in Syria – while significant – are simpler. In both cases, however, there appear to be multiple perspectives within the Russian government; without clear directives from … Putin to integrate them into a coherent policy, Russia’s diplomatic, economic, military and security officials will each seek to pursue their own objectives, sometimes contradicting one another. Also, because … Putin does not seem to feel real pressure from U.S. sanctions, he is unlikely to be disposed to offer major concessions to the United States simply to reach agreement …. The bottom line for the United States is that despite political controversy and a rocky start, Russian officials haven’t given up on … Trump …. If the administration wants to work with Moscow -a nd can navigate between the Congress and the media to do so – it will find an interested though quite difficult interlocutor. We can count on … Putin to put Russia first.”

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