US stops financial aid to Caucasus (and not only to it)
US President Donald Trump administration released the 2018 budget proposal, which includes massive cuts to domestic and foreign aid programs.
The Budget proposes to reduce or end direct funding for international programs and organizations whose missions do not substantially advance U.S. foreign policy interests, the draft says.
According to the draft, Trump's team continues the same policy of the US withdrawal from the post-Soviet space, which was de facto announced with the reduction and cancellation of USAID programs.
Among the countries that would see a massive reduction in assistance is Ukraine, with the budget calling for a reduction of aid from $667.099 million in 2016 to $203.78 million.
The US is leaving the Caucasus: assistance to Azerbaijan will drop from $10.2 million to $1 million, aid to Armenia would drop from $20.367 million in 2016 to $6.8 million, and to Georgia - from $80.605 million to $34.1 million.
The US will completely stop its assistance to Belarus (it received $7.911 million last year). Aid to Moldova will be cut more than twice: from $45.042 million to $20.25 million.
Uzbekistan will be the only country with $10.64 million against the previous $10.131 million. Assistance to Kazakhstan will drop from $7,897 million to $1.7 million, Turkmenistan - from $4.301 million to $430,000, Tajikistan - from $36.155 million to $21.02 million. Kyrgyzstan will receive less than $17.47 million against $46.378 million.
If in 2016 Latvia received $2.962 million, Lithuania - $2.984 million, Estonia - $2.975 million, then in 2018, each of them can expect only $1.1 million.
Turkey will retain its funding almost at the same level: the White House intends to give Ankara $3.8 million.
Poland will be given $1.5 million instead of $13.935 million of 2016. Kosovo will receive $34.47 million ($45,271 in 2016). China will receive $1.5 million instead of $ 25.3 million last year. Mongolia will receive $1.75 million instead of $3.813 million.
Assistance to Africa would be reduced from $8 billion to $5.24 billion; East Asia and Oceania will receive $393.3 million instead of $731.941 million; Europe will be financed by $451.32 million instead of $1.127 billion; South and Central Asia can expect only $1.424 billion instead of last year's $2.03 billion. Latin American countries will retain only $1.093 billion from the former $1.7 billion.
Aid to Syria will increase from $177.14 million to $191.5 million. Libya will get $31 million ($18.5 million in 2016). Israel will receive the same $3.1 billion.
The director general of the Institute for Caspian Cooperation Sergey Mikheyev, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, stressed that Trump has began to fulfill his promises. "He promised to cut spending external projects, shift these burdens to allies. His logic is simple - if you consider yourself our allies and share our values, then please take care about part of these hardships, and stop just drag money out of the US budget. In fact, it's about returning money to the US, which Trump promised to do," he said, noting that the cuts could be changed, because it's only a draft budget.
"I think that the priority of the post-Soviet space is reduced for the Trump administration, they pay less attention to it, they are less concerned with it. They have a globalistic agenda. Let's see what happens, because there will be heated discussions in the Congress with representatives of the globalist elite who are sure that they need to spend money to support the allies. Although, perhaps, there will be no such battle," Sergei Mikheev suggested.
A senior researcher of the Analytical Center IMI of the Russian MGIMO, Leonid Gusev, in turn, recalled that such cuts were drafted in Donald Trump's election program, and drew attention to the fact that the US president's idea on the need to save on foreign policy can meet the fierce resistance of the Congress. "For example, congressmen can come up with a reverse proposal on Ukraine to increase financial assistance. The same goes for other countries in the post-Soviet space, which are believed to be beneficial to the US. Trump will find it very difficult to reject Congress decisions, so the current project, presented by the White House, is a statement of the President's Administration on how it sees foreign policy activities," he warned.
According to the expert, such cuts in State Department's financial assistance will not change the behavior of the countries of the post-Soviet space significantly. "Their cooperation with both the US and Russia has lasted for many years, so I think that everything stays right where it is," Leonid Gusev expects.