Trump withdraws US from post-Soviet space

Trump withdraws US from post-Soviet space

The US President Donald Trump administration’s budget proposal includes cuts of one to two-thirds in funding to the USAID program, the government’s foreign aid agency. 

The proposed slash in funding would eliminate 30 to 35 of United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) field missions while cutting its regional bureaus by roughly 65%, according to a 15-page State Department budget document on the overhaul, obtained by Foreign Policy.

Trump is seeking a cut to foreign aid under the slogan of 'America First', for fiscal year 2018. The budget plan still requires approval by Congress.

The State Department and USAID budget request for this fiscal year is around $50 billion, part of a broader $58.8 billion “international affairs budget,” but a drop in the overall $3 trillion-plus federal budget.

According to Trump's decision, USAID will completely withdraw from the four countries with the least funding: Azerbaijan ($7.7 million per year), Belarus ($7.9 million per year), Kazakhstan ($6.1 million per year) and Turkmenistan $3.9 million per year).

The biggest cut is in Ukraine - funding will be reduced from $570.9 million per year to $177.8 million per year (68.8%). USAID's work program in Armenia will be reduced from $17.6 million per year to $4 million per year (by 77%).

Programs will also be reduced in Georgia (from $47.5 million per year to $28 million per year - by 41.1%), Kyrgyzstan (from $44.8 million per year to $18 million per year - by 59.9%) and Tajikistan (from $33 million per year to $17.3 million per year - by 47.6%). The only CIS country, whose support from USAID will be increased, is Uzbekistan (from $9.39 million per year to $9.8 million per year - by 4.4%), but most of the money will be directed to support the economy.

Moldova will receive $16 million per year instead of $30.431 million per year (-47.4%),

The Middle East programs will be the least affected by cuts (from $1.732 billion per year to $1.607 billion per year - by 7.2%) and African programs (by 13%, to $5.19 billion). The program of support for Iraq will be substantially expanded - from $122.5 billion per year to $300 billion per year - by 144.9%. In Syria, USAID will begin to spend 50% - $150 billion per year.

The US would cut its contribution to Asian and Pacific countries by 41.4% ($321.35 million per year).  The USAID program in China is almost nullified ($1.5 million per year to health care). South and Central Asia will receive 27.7% less ($1.130 billion per year instead of $1.563 billion per year).

The USAID assistance programs in Europe will be reduced by 57.4% (from $854 million per year to $363.88 million per year). Programs in Poland, Montenegro, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Venezuela will be canceled.

The director of the Roosevelt Fund of Study of the US at Moscow State University, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Yuri Rogulev, speaking with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that by doing this, Washington is reducing inefficient spending in accordance with his plans to reduce foreign policy activity. "As a rule, these funds were spent not to help the states, but to further promote American influence in them, which led to the fact that those funds were largely dissipated. That is, although influence was growing, but not comparable to the costs spent for this purpose," he stressed.

"In this case, President Donald Trump, who has set the task of reviving the US economy, is seeking funds to carry out his programs .Therefore, he is cutting expenditure on foreign policy, which does not bring any special dividends to the US from his point of view, and is not vital, as it applies to regions which are very remote from the US national interests. The saving regime is the only thing he can do, because Trump promised to lower taxes, while increasing the military spending  Hence, such cuts in USAID programs," Yury Rogulev explained.

The director of the Institute of Political Studies Sergei Markov agreed that it is a reflection of Trump's policy of 'directing other countries less and solving America's problems more'. "Of course, it will lead to some diminution of America's influence in the world, but also improve the situation, because its influence is counterproductive sometimes. The classical example is Ukraine. It seems to me that the US government is looking for ways of finding a compromise over Ukraine and emerging from the conflict. Mow propagandists of the Kiev regime receive most of the money, and if the Ukrainian media starts to receive less money, they will be less supportive of terrorist activities in Kiev, in particular, the blockade of Donbass," the political scientist expects.

According to him, there will be no drastic changes after USAID's partial withdrawal from the post-Soviet space, but US pressure on Russia's neighbors will decline. "Trump proposed to reduce US activity in various countries not because he is an ardent opponent of USAID, but because in recent years the agency's activity has been counterproductive. The anti-Russian activity in the CIS countries will certainly decline, as it was largely done with American money. In general, there will be a stabilization of the situation on our borders, as there will be less money for its destabilization," Sergey Markov concluded.

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