Saturday, March 30, 2019

Mueller Report Further Marginalizes Russia in American Thinking, Shevtsova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 28 – For the last three years, Russia has been near the center of American thinking, Liliya Shevtsova says, a place that Russians welcome as an indication of their own view of themselves as the second super power; but the findings of the Mueller Report will have the effect of pushing Russia out of that place and thus marginalizing it for the US.

            “The irony” of suspicions that Trump and Putin had colluded in 2016, the Russian commentator says, is that they were “the last manifestation of ‘the bipolarity’ of Russia and the US when the two acted on an equal basis. Even more: in the view of many, Trump owed Putin,” something that could only elevate Putin and Russia (

                “But now,” she continues, “’the Russian factor’ is departing from American life.” There will be some additional investigations of “’the Russian trace’” in US political life. Americans are “tired” of the Russian issue and “do not want to keep it as a quality of intrigue of American politics.” They will now turn to other things – and for them, Russia will disappear as an issue.

            In fact, Shevtsova argues, there will be “an exclusion of Russia out of the American system of priorities.” That may lead to a reduction in sanctions against Russia, something Moscow will welcome; but it will mark the departure of Russia from the American view of the world and force the Kremlin to rethink its foreign policy which has been “American centric.”

                The latter shift is far more important, she continues, because the way Russians view themselves as a power is based on their relationship to the US, “the world superpowers” is “the most important basis of our sense of ourselves as a power.”  But “a time is coming when America doesn’t need Russia anymore” and indeed isn’t interested in it.

            The US “no longer ill look at Russia as a subject for equal relations.” Instead, Washington will focus on “a different interest – the formation of a world order which will integrate China as a partner-competitor. This will be the new bipolarity, and there on’t be any basis for hopes about a triangle of ‘the US, China and Russia.’”

            Not long ago, she notes, the RAND Corporation issued a report Russia – a Rogue but Not a Competitor; China – a Competitor but Not a Rogue ( that perfectly reflects the emerging US view of the world that will now only be intensified by the Mueller Report findings.   

            The report says that the US must contain a declining Russia but develop “’a strategic balance’ and constructive cooperation” with China, a formulation that shows that the US already views Russia as a “second echelon” state rather than one that plays a key role in defining the world order.

            “Of course, the Kremlin will be able to dream up an occasion to attract the attention of the Americans and force them to return to dialogue. But what will this be besides nuclear confrontation which will be destructive for Russia?” -- however many cartoons of rockets its leaders show the world.

            That is the underlying and bitter reality the Mueller Report’s findings really offer Russians, Shevtsova says; and that, not any increase in Trump’s ability to make nice with Putin. Even if that happens, it isn’t going to matter the way Putin or most Russians hope. The world has changed, and Russia no longer has the importance it did.

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