A telephone conversation between the presidents of Russia and the United States revealed the strengths and weaknesses of Moscow.
The telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart, Donald Trump, in fact only recorded the existing contradictions between the two powers. At the same time, it is possible that the White House is counting on concessions on the part of the Kremlin in resolving the crisis in Venezuela, but is not ready to compromise on other issues related to the situation in Ukraine and the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
Official reports on the negotiations of the two leaders are extremely mean, but they also allow us to draw some conclusions. So, the release of the press service of the Russian president said that Putin informed Trump about the meeting with the DPRK head Kim Jong-un on April 25 in Vladivostok and stressed that “Pyongyang’s conscientious fulfillment of its obligations must be accompanied by reciprocal steps to reduce the sanctions pressure on North Korea”. Touching on the Ukrainian theme, Putin “emphasized that the new Kiev leadership needs to take real steps to implement the Minsk agreements.”
It is noteworthy that the very first paragraph of the message of the Kremlin about the conversation reads: “The presidents spoke in favor of developing mutually beneficial trade and investment relations.” Given that these links are almost gone, we can conclude about the general nature of the conversation. It is noteworthy that only a few hours after the telephone conversation, Washington published a statement on the results of Trump’s talks with Slovak President Peter Pellegrini. The leaders of the Nord Stream 2 project were unequivocally called “geopolitical weapons”, expressed their readiness to further support Ukraine and opposed the lifting of anti-Russian sanctions.
However, the conversation between Putin and Trump took place on the initiative of the American side. And it’s hard to imagine that the President of the United States would call Putin without a specific goal, but just chat. Moreover, the fact of the conversation has already become a pretext for numerous attacks on the White House’s owner in the American press. Trump has already been called the “Putin’s press secretary” and criticized for not raising the issue of Russia’s possible intervention in the 2016 US presidential election. This is despite the fact that the Special Prosecutor Robert Muller could not find any obvious evidence.
Washington reports that the main topic of Trump’s telephone conversation with Putin was Venezuela. And this seems to be the most plausible, since it is precisely in this direction that the US President has the most acute problems.
– Putin does not want to interfere in Venezuela at all, but he wants something positive to happen to Venezuela. And I feel the same way, – the American leader shared his impressions of the conversation.
The fact is that the United States has already recognized the legitimate president of parliament’s chairman, Juan Guaydo, and persuaded some of his allies to do so. But the opposition leader still fails to take power, the head of state Nicolas Maduro was even able to withstand a recent coup attempt. Delaying the situation beats Trump’s prestige throughout Latin America, and also has a negative effect on the White House host rating among conservative Spanish-speaking voters.
The only possible way to resolve the situation for Trump is precisely the military invasion of Venezuela. But Russia, which has the veto right in the UN Security Council, can block the international legitimacy of such a decision. In addition, Russian military experts are currently in Venezuela, which further complicates the situation for Washington.
It is not excluded that Trump persuaded Putin not to interfere. Just what is the American president willing to offer in return?
- How can I guess, Trump offered Putin to make a deal, and bargaining was in the“ triangle ”Ukraine – Venezuela -“ Nord Stream 2 ”, says the associate professor of the Plekhanov Institute, an expert of the «Officers of Russia» organization, Alexander Perendzhiev.
– Probably, the American president managed to agree on something. Trump’s statement about the gas pipeline in Europe is understandable. The agreement of the Slovak President with him looks strange, since the construction of Nord Stream-2 is just to his advantage.
– The US continues to negotiate from a position of strength?
– I think that there are agreements between the elites of the United States, Europe and Russia. There are rules of the game that have been worked out, but in the information field we are told that there are conflicts. They probably do exist, but they are obvious. Now there is a bargaining over who will play what role in conflicts. By and large, the telephone conversation between the two leaders could not seriously affect the balance of power. Russia has certain resources to influence some processes. But everyone is interested in coordinating positions.
- The conversation was not very productive for the American side, – said Mikhail Alexandrov, a leading expert at the Center for Military-Political Research at MGIMO.
– This is evidenced by a joint statement by the presidents of the United States and Slovakia. On the other hand, Putin could not promise anything to Trump in Venezuela. Moscow has repeatedly said that it is not going to interfere in the internal affairs of another country. Of course, Russia will be against the US military invasion of Venezuela. But Russia did not plan to defend Venezuela militarily.
By the way, Washington is unlikely to decide on a military operation, as it can be very expensive. Statements about this should only inspire the Venezuelan opposition to take more decisive action. True, small forces can be sent prepared from the natives of Latin America. So at one time landed in Cuba. It is not excluded that on the part of Russia private military companies may be involved in the conflict. But in general, the Venezuelan army is well prepared to fight the rebels. The main thing is for Maduro to ensure the loyalty of his armed forces and the support of a certain part of the population.
– What did Trump have from the Russian president?
– I think Trump was trying to figure out how far Russia could go in supporting Maduro. If the Americans take hybrid actions, will Moscow intervene in the Syrian scenario? But let me remind you that initially such a scenario was not considered by the Russian Federation.
I would note that it would be beneficial for us if the USA got involved in another conflict. This development of events does not even have to be particularly discouraged.
On other issues there is also a certain clarity. For example, Russia is ready to normalize relations with Ukraine if Kiev fulfills the Minsk agreements. Perhaps Trump could promise this to Putin. The owner of the White House could say that he would make an effort. But the point is not who promised what to whom, but who will do what. We were promised at one time not to expand NATO and not to deploy major military forces on the borders with Russia. But we see that these promises are worth nothing.
– There is no danger that the United States will arrange a provocation in Venezuela, and Russia will have to look at it silently?
– Americans have long been provocative in Venezuela. But we did not undertake obligations for the military defense of this country. Politically, we will support Maduro, supply him with weapons, send military advisers. I do not think that Moscow will close its eyes to any operations on the part of Washington.
Indeed, the option of a major war of the Vietnamese is also possible. But I want to remind you that the USSR did not officially intervene, since there was a danger of a world nuclear war, but in the end the Americans lost. Similarly, Russia can act in Venezuela.