Rocket, Guardians of Freedom
17 February 2017
On Thursday, State Secretary Tillerson met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov at a summit in Bonn, Germany. Tillerson reaffirmed U.S. policy to insist on Russia to comply with the Minsk international peace accord in Ukraine and to return Crimea to Ukraine. The U.S. will work with Russia if there are areas of cooperation, which is a view seemingly shared by Lavrov. Defense Secretary Mattis, at a NATO meeting in Brussels, stated that Washington and Moscow are “not in a position right now to collaborate on a military level.” He expressed little doubt that Russia interfered in the U.S. election. Sean Spicer, the White House Press Secretary, has said that Mr. Trump expects Mr. Putin to return Crimea.
The reaffirmation of established U.S. foreign policy with regard to Russia have dashed the hopes of the Kremlin, in light of the warm tone towards Russia by President Trump, of a rapprochement in U.S.-Russia relations. Russia has been testing U.S. resolve by recently escalating the violence in eastern Ukraine, and even sending a spy ship to the shores of Connecticut. In response to Sean Spicer’s words, Moscow has categorically rejected the proposition of returning Crimea to Ukraine.
Considering the resignation of Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser and the preceding scandal over ties to Russia, President Trump’s admiring tone towards Vladimir Putin, Trump and Tillerson’s ties to Russia, as well as the general incompetence of the new administration to transition effectively and efficiently, to place trust in the words of the top U.S. officials would be irresponsible. Perhaps Russia is not getting everything it wants at the time that it wants from the U.S. Perhaps. However, viewed in context, this mediocre “toughness” does not match the record. At the end of the day, as the violence in Ukraine escalates, President Trump has not, definitive of his presidency as a whole, offered any concrete policy proposals towards Russia. The words of the Secretary of State have no action to back them up, and they stand against the glaring conflict of interest that seemingly does not matter in our present-day reality: his ties to ExxonMobil, a company that lost $500 billion due to sanctions on Russia. The current scandal involving the former National Security Adviser reveals a dangerous collusion with the Russian government to subvert U.S. foreign policy, at least. So, as the administration talks the talk, I am deeply skeptical of its commitment to stand against Russia. The Administration needs to strengthen sanctions against Russia, not only through executive orders but by supporting legislation currently proposed in Congress. Additionally, Congress needs to conduct oversight by investigating into the connections between Russia and the new administration.
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