Veronika Krasheninnikova: "Russia should expect aggressive US policy in Ukraine and Syria"
There was no official press conference on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg following the meeting between the Presidents of Russia and the United States, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. The presidents themselves briefly told about on the substance of the talks in conversation with other politicians (Trump also wrote several messages on Twitter), giving more detailed description of the conversation to their representatives and assistants. The Director General of the Institute for Foreign Policy Studies and Initiatives, an advisor to the Director General of the MIA ‘Russia Today’ Veronica Krasheninnikova told Vestnik Kavkaza about conclusions that can be made about the significance of this meeting for Russian-US relations on the basis of the information available.
- In your estimation, had the Putin-Trump meeting in Hamburg any practical results?
- Since relatively few details are known about the meeting of Presidents Putin and Trump, the results of the talks will probably continue to emerge for some time, however, we can talk about the areas that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has outlined at the press conference. The first is the coordination of a memorandum on the establishment of a de-escalation zone in the Syrian regions of Daraa, Quneitra and Sweida. It is one of the four zones that were identified by Russia, Syria, Iran and Turkey at the meeting in Astana in early May. Back then the US participation in ensuring security in a de-escalation zone was not expected, because the parties, especially Iran, do not trust Washington. Now, the US will participate in ensuring the security of this zone. Of course, it raises questions concerning how this decision was taken without the participation of Syria, how it will affect our partnership with Iran and whether Israel will participate in the process, as Quneitra mostly situated in the disputed with Israel Golan heights - but the most important thing is that such arrangements somehow legitimize the American presence in Syria.
- How will the US participation in maintaining a ceasefire in Syria affect the Syrian crisis?
- The US presence in Syria contradicts all international laws and violates Syrian sovereignty. The United States has established seven military bases on Syria's territory to train controlled militants, mostly Kurdish. After Kurds gain control over certain territories, they transfer them under the control of Washington, that is, de facto, the US occupies more and more areas in Syria. These are scandalous and illegal actions, and we cannot accept such a Syrian policy of the US, especially as in parallel Washington is working to create an independent Kurdish state that would unite the Kurds of Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran. This is a giant destabilization project for many decades to come, as it means the split and dismemberment of these four states. Of course, the central government will actively resist such plans.
- What should we expect from Kurt Volker, the special representative of the US State Department for Ukraine, appointed on the same day?
- Volcker, in fact, took Victoria Nuland's place, who had previously been actively involved in Ukraine. His figure still needs to be worked out in detail, but it is already known that he started his career in 1986 as an analyst in the CIA, then worked in the State Department and Senator John McCain's office, then was director of Europe and Eurasia at the NSS, prepared NATO summits in 2002 and 2004. Under his leadership, the Eastern European and Baltic countries joined the alliance in 2004, since 2005 Volcker was first deputy ambassador, and then the US ambassador to NATO. In recent years, he led the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University. Volcker is a very close person to Senator McCain, who is well-versed in NATO policy, so there is nothing positive to expect here from his activity in the new position, for example, any compromises in Ukraine.
- In your opinion, did the Presidents succeed in advancing the issue of cyber security at the meeting?
- It was stated that an international cyber security unit would be formed, and, what is noteworthy, later Trump said on Twitter that it is not a fact that this unit will be eventually formed. In any case, the US is leading in terms of cyber attacks, both in terms of the activities of the National Security Agency, and in part of accusations of Russia in hacker attacks. The declared new unit can easily turn into another unit for scourging and exerting pressure on Russia. We will need to make vigorous efforts to prevent it, and carry out our own agenda.
- Does it mean that the meeting was rather negative than positive for Russian-US relations?
- It's good that the first meeting of the presidents took place, but it already indicated the difficulties we have to to deal with, and they will require a very large concentration of efforts. We cannot expect anything else, since Trump gathered the most aggressive staff around him, and we will deal with their policy. It's good that this dialogue has started because we need the participation of the US in both Ukrainian and Syrian issues, but we should expect quite aggressive US participation in these issues. Russian media actively played on the Trump side during the presidential campaign - but we do not need to hold any parties in elections abroad. I doubt that Russian propaganda influenced the choice of American voters, but the bet on compromised candidates has negative impact on us.
Vladimir Putin said that there are reasons to believe that we will be able to at least partially restore the level of interaction that we need, if the dialogue continues like that, and our ambition is to achieve it. The overall result of the last year for Russian-Us relations is, of course, negative, and we have to work under these circumstances.