July 31, 2017
Heather Hurlburt wrote for New York Magazine about how US-Russia tensions could change following Putin's latest announcement.
Moscow may be content with symbolism for now, or it may be weighing other options of its own. Russians are chattering about the possibility of cutting uranium or titanium exports to the U.S., expelling major U.S. firms, or going into high diplomatic gear to block U.S. initiatives on North Korea and other priorities.
And there you have irony worthy of a Russian novel. Donald Trump, who seems to have needed Russia to float his family’s businesses and give his campaign various nudges in what proved to be a razor-tight outcome, now needs a much-disappointed Russia to help keep Syria at a simmer instead of at a boil, put unified pressure on North Korea, and not to stir up trouble in Iran or Afghanistan.
That would be a challenging line for a deft president, with an experienced and empowered cabinet, to walk. Instead this president has a missing-in-action secretary of State, a secretary of Defense he just blindsided with personnel micromanaging, a secretary of Homeland Security he just demoted to be his chief of staff, and a national security adviser whose job seems to be hanging by a thread. Moscow’s greatest win yet from Donald Trump is that Putin now seems to be the only leader who knows what he’s doing.