Expelled 60 Russian diplomats, but congratulated Putin’s reelection, what is Trump’s Russia policy exactly?
〝I would not be surprised if the current US administration that also came in with this notion of let’s be friends with Vladimir Putin. At the end of the day ends up in a very different situation.〞
Both have increased tension with the U.S. but can a China-Russia alliance last?
〝the CCP’s aim is to win over Russia and serve its own end against the US. Similarly, Russia will often do the same when it has a tense relationship with the United States. 〞
〝Any kind of relationship such as this can only have Russia as a junior and subservient partner in this relationship. 〞
What is the end game for Putin and Xi Jinping?
〝it attempts in reality to create a Beijing-centered world economic network rather than a US-centered one。〞
〝however long the Putin regime will remain in power, the current course, both for domestic authoritarianism and for the aggressive and confrontational stance towards the West, will continue. 〞
And who is a bigger threat to America?
〝 As to the US-China-Russia relations, as I said, it is acknowledged that the threat from communist China has surpassed that of Russia, as shown in the US strategic, military and national defence reports, basically due to its economic strength. 〞
Welcome to《 Zooming In》, I am Simone Gao. President Trump has had a dual strategy with both Russia and China. On one hand, he’s tried to have warm personal relations with both leaders. But on the other hand, he has been very tough on them economically and politically. For Russia, this can be seen in the US expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats in March. For China, it can be seen in the increased tariffs and the Taiwan Travel Act. As US relations with Russia and China become increasingly tense, Russia and China become increasingly close. So what exactly is President Trump’s strategy? And can two countries that are on bad terms with the U.S. become real allies? And if they can’t, who is a bigger threat to the US? We’ll explore these questions and more in this episode of《 Zooming In》.
On April 3, during the joint press conference with the presidents of the 3 Baltic states, President Trump reiterated his tough stance on Russia.
〝No one is tougher on Russia than me.〞
These are soothing words to the Baltic leaders. They’ve been pressing the United States and NATO to take additional security measures in the region to deter any potential aggression from Russia. The White House promised nearly $100 million for procurement of large-caliber ammunition. They also promised over $70 million in training and equipping programs to boost their military. The Baltic countries agreed to diversify their energy sources by importing less Russian natural gas and more US liquefied gas.
The visit took place at an interesting time. On March 26, the U.S. expelled 60 Russian diplomats for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in England. The U.K. expelled 23, France 4, Germany 4. The U.S. expelled the most among all Western countries. Russia responded with the expulsion of 150 Western diplomats. The same total number of Russians that the West expelled.
美国外交官从俄国被驱逐后不到24小时，俄国声称他们测试了最先进的洲际导弹，绰号〝Satan 2〞。根据4月4日CNN的报导，几周前普京还炫耀了新武器装备，包括Satan 2 导弹。
Less than 24 hours after the U.S. diplomats were expelled from Russia, Russia claimed they tested their state of the art intercontinental missile, nicknamed 〝SATAN 2.〞 According to CNN’s report on April 4, Putin offered a flashy display of new weaponry a few weeks ago, including the SATAN 2.
This system has no limitation on distance….... could reach President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration announced more sanctions against Russia in response to Russia’s occupation of Crimea and ongoing violence in Ukraine.
The actions from both sides, especially such a large number of diplomatic expulsions, was not even seen at the height of the Cold War. However, President Trump’s message is a bit confusing.
On March 20, he called Putin to congratulate him on his re-election. France, Germany, Italy and Japan were the only Western allies that did the same thing.
萧茗（Host/Simone Gao）：川普对俄政策到底是什么？早些时候我采访了开放俄国基金会的副主席Vladimir Kara-Murza，关于川普的对俄政策以及普京下一步的计划。
So what exactly is President Trump’s Russia policy? I spoke to Vice Chairman of the Open Russia Foundation, Vladimir Kara-Murza, about President Trump’s Russian policy and what Vladimir Putin will likely do next.
〝 On one hand, President Trump congratulated Putin’s re-election, on the other hand, he expelled 60 Russian diplomats, the most among western countries. Yesterday, during his press conference with the Baltic states presidents, he said he can have a very good relationship with Putin. What is Pres. Trump’s strategy in dealing with Russia? and Is it working?〞
〝Well, there are very few areas of policy continuity between the last few US presidents – George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and the current president, Donald Trump. But there is one area of remarkable bipartisan continuity: It’s their relationship with Vladimir Putin. All past US presidents have tried to make friendly gestures towards Vladimir Putin, have tried to make deals with him, have tried to find some sort of accommodation with him. We remember George W. Bush who looked into Mr. Putin’s eyes and got a sense of his soul. We remember Barack Obama who declared a reset in relations with Mr. Putin and praised him for the great work he’s done on behalf of the Russian people. We’re hearing all these signals from the current US administration. And, of course, the congratulating on the so-called election victory has also been an unfortunate, and long bipartisan tradition by US presidents – President Bush, President Obama, and now President Trump are doing this. And this, of course, makes absolutely no sense. And it’s really puzzling to me how you can reconcile the fact that every time we have a so-called election in Russia, observers from Western countries, Western democracies, including the US, who come to monitor these elections, make the conclusion that this was not a free and fair vote, this was basically a setup, this was not a real Democratic contest. But then you have the leaders, the presidents and the prime ministers of those same Western democratic countries who pick up the phones and congratulate Mr. Putin on his quote unquote 〝election victory.〞 And this is what we saw again in the last month, in March of 2018. I’m very puzzled as to how those two things make sense. So on the one hand, this has been an unfortunate tradition of US presidents. But on the other hand, I think it has been a much more noble, also bipartisan tradition on Capitol Hill in the American Congress. And there was principled bipartisan leadership in the US Congress in support of principles and values of Democracy, of rule of law, and human rights. It was this leadership, for example, that led to the passage of the Magnitsky Act in the United States a few years ago. And we continue, despite everything, we continue to see this today on Capitol Hill in the US Congress. We continue to see people who are prepared to take a stand in support of principles and values and against the cynical realpolitik. 〞
〝Right, that said, do you think there is a policy or at least an attitude change towards Russia from President Trump between when he was first elected and now? Remember when he was first elected he somehow saw Russia as a potential ally. 〞
〝Well, again, I think if we look back at the last almost two decades since Vladimir Putin has been in power, we have seen that every US president has come into office wanting to be friends with Vladimir Putin, wanting to extend a hand to Vladimir Putin. Bush did that, Obama did that, and Trump did that. And, of course, we know that those previous US presidents have ended up in very different positions. They came in contact with reality, as it were, and they finally realized that there cannot be, at the end of the day, a convergence of interest. There cannot be even a genuine cooperation of partnership between, on the one hand, a democratic system of government that is the US and, on the other hand, a corrupt, kleptocratic authoritarian regime, that is the regime of Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin. So we know how President Bush and President Obama ended their terms with regard to Vladimir Putin. So I would not be surprised if the current US administration that also came in with this notion of 〝let’s be friends with Vladimir Putin,〞 at the end of the day ends up in a very different situation. 〞
萧茗（Host/ Simone Gao）：〝普京下一步在美俄关系方面会做出什么举动呢？〞
〝 What will Putin do next in terms of US-Russia relations?〞
〝 As we know from modern Russian history, regimes that are repressive domestically towards their own citizens also, necessarily, in time, become more aggressive on the international stage. This is what we saw with the Soviet government. This is what we’re clearly seeing with Mr. Putin’s government today. The Putin regime needs this besieged fortress mentality. They need to have this image of Russia apparently surrounded by enemies. And, of course, the main of those enemies according to the Putin propaganda machine is the United State of America. So I think there’s no reason to expect Mr. Putin to change this course, either domestically or internationally. So I think it’s fair to say that as long as the Putin regime remains in power, for however long that will be, because we also know that Russian history has a way of throwing political surprises sometimes, but however long the Putin regime will remain in power, the current course, both for domestic authoritarianism and for the aggressive and confrontational stance towards the West, will continue.〞
Coming up, Russia and China are both on bad terms with the U.S., but can the two become real friends? Stay tuned.
When the West, especially the U.S., had a showdown with Russia over the poisoning of the Russian spy in the U.K., the fight was never just between the U.S. and Russia. There is another important player in the background, or in a sense, in the foreground that levers this tricky triangular relationship. That player is China.
On April 3-8, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and defense minister Wei Fenghe visited Russia. At a press conference on April 5th, the Foreign minister of Russia and Wang Yi
jointly denounced what they described as the unilateralism of the United States.
〝The US uses the trade war. It is typical unilateralism and an undisguised attempt at hegemony. It is a serious violation of WTO (World Trade Organisation) rules.〞
Narration: When asked about Russia’s view of the U.S.-China trade war, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov echoed Wang Yi’s view of the Trump administration's unilateralist approach to international concerns.
〝 Russian Foreign Minister: "We are dealing with an administration that is taking revisionist action on the global arena, seeking to revise nearly all key recent international agreements which were reached by the international community, and most of them approved by the UN Security Council.〞
Earlier, Wei Fenghe, the new defense Minister of China and a Xi Jinping loyalist, offered a clear position on U.S.-Russia-China relations during the same trip.
According to Russian state news agency TASS, Wei said: "The Chinese side has come (to Moscow) to show Americans the close ties between the armed forces of China and Russia ... we've come to support you."
The reinvigorated friendship between China and Russia reflects the increased tension they have with the U.S. respectively. For China, it is the trade war, North Korea, and the Taiwan Travel Act. For Russia, its hopes for warmed Russia-U.S. ties under Trump have withered amid the investigations of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and myriad other disputes, most recently the poisoning of the ex-Russian spy in Britain.
萧茗（Host/Simone Gao）：但是，中国和俄国的联盟能长久吗？尽管俄国和中国在政治历史上相似，两国关系一直紧张。20世纪50年代的中苏关系因为政治路线之争而破裂。这为1972年尼克松访华建立中美关系打开大门。今天，地缘政治结构已经变化。46年之后重燃的友谊要建立在什么基础上？我们来听听稍早我对开放俄国基金会副主席Vladimir Kara-Murza和本台资深评论员陈破空的采访。
However, can the alliance between China and Russia last? Despite historical similarities politically, China and Russia have had tense relations. The Sino-Soviet split in the mid ‘50s broke off relations due to political divergences. The falling out opened China up for Sino-American relations when President Nixon visited China in 1972. Today, the geopolitical structure has changed. What will a renewed friendship be based on after 46 years? Let’s hear my earlier discussions with Open Russia Foundation Vice Chairman Vladimir Kara-Murza and Chen Pokong, senior political commentator and NTD TV contributor.
〝Does Putin view China as an ally? What is the dynamic between Russia and China?〞
〝Well, Putin in the last few years has been trying to present Western countries as enemies of Russia, as a threat to Russia, which, first of all, makes absolutely no sense from any point of view because, of course, first of all, why do you speak – Russia is itself a part of the Western civilization. We’re a European country. We’re a Christian majority country. We are a part of the wider West. And so it’s absurd to try to present our natural allies as our enemies. Also, our most secure and our safest borders in Russia today are our borders on the West, our borders with the NATO and European Union countries, which cannot be said about our borders elsewhere. And when Putin is trying to reposition Russian foreign policy away from our natural allies in the rest of Europe and in the wider West, towards trying to build some sort of a partnership with a Communist dictatorship in Beijing, I think he’s – what he’s doing is directly contradicting the long-term national and strategic interests of Russia. Because any kind of relationship such as this can only have Russia as a junior and subservient partner in this relationship. And this is clear, for example, in this pipeline project. The 〝Strength of Siberia,〞 the pipeline delivering Russian natural resources to China. That project was announced a few years ago. Even from the purely economic point of view, this project is detrimental to long-term Russian economic and national interests. And so I think it’s a very short-sighted attempt by the Putin regime that wants to serve its own domestic, including its own propaganda purposes, that it is pivoting – trying to pivot Russia away from our natural partners and allies in the West towards trying to build some sort of relationship with a Communist dictatorship in Beijing. 〞
I also asked Chen Pokong what he thinks from China’s perspective. Let’s take a listen.
〝How does China view Russia? A potential ally? 〞
〝 I don’t think the CCP or the Xi administration treats Russia or Putin as a true ally. They just use them. On a visit to Russia on April 3, China’s new Defense Minister, Wei Fenghe, spoke with the Russian Defense Minister: 〝I take Russia as my first stop abroad to show our high-level military, and close strategic ties to the world.〞 It is reported that such remarks were unexceptionally bold. However, the Russian side, say, its defense minister or other officials, never aired similar views. In fact the CCP’s defense minister was purposefully irritating the US, because China and the US are on all-around tensions right now. Trade war or retaliation, the South China Sea issue, the tough Korean peninsula issue, and the like. So at this moment, the CCP’s aim is to win over Russia and serve its own end against the US. Similarly, Russia will often do the same when it has a tense relationship with the United States. In fact, China and Russia are using each other to vie with the West. Once either side improves its ties with the West, the so-called Sino-Russian strategic partnership will end. 〞
〝President Trump seems to take a dual approach with both countries. He seeks to build warm personal relations with Xi and Putin. But he also takes a tough stance against them politically. What does he want to do and is it working? 〞
〝Let’s see how President Trump and his administration treat China and Russia. Apparently, the Trump administration regards them both as strategic threats, as listed in its military or national defense strategy reports. But here is the difference: China always ranks as the No. 1 threat, while Russia ranks No. 2. The US has drawn this judgment from decades of post-Cold War developments. Specifically, the Trump administration makes a distinction between China and Russia. It’s known that during his election campaign, Trump vowed to improve his relations with Russia, and their remarks show that he and Putin bore mutual appreciation. Around his taking office, Trump had a strategic attempt to 〝Unite with Russia and vie with China,〞 quite unlike his predecessors, whose strategy was to unite with China to fight against Russia, undermining the Red Block. Now in the Trump era changes have come -- 〝Unite with Russia to vie with China.〞 Unfortunately, he was troubled by Russiagate, unable to better the US-Russian relations. So, on the surface, US-Russian relations are deteriorating, but not substantially. I believe Trump and Putin both expect to improve their bilateral ties under the table. Not long ago, after Putin won re-election, Trump immediately congratulated him and discussed US-Russia summits. However, Xi’s re-election won no congratulations at all from Trump. No call, even. Absolutely, Trump was expressing his disapproval of Xi’s constitutional amendment and repealing of term limits. This indicates a sign of all-around Sino-US confrontation. Judging from this situation, Trump does not necessarily treat the two countries equally. On the surface, he is both anti-China and anti-Russia, but secretly he is anti-China, but pro-Russia. We’ve also noted Russia’s recent moves to cement its ties with Vietnam: selling arms and warships to it. And Vietnam invited Russian warships to visit Cam Ranh Bay, and Russia expressed thanks. You see a new intruder in the the South China Sea issue. So far only American and Russian warships have been stationed there. Vietnam has never invited any Chinese warships. Clearly, it has been alert to China. Notice the old iron triangle: Russia-Vietnam-India. So the presence of Russian warships in Vietnam is obviously to the CCP’s disadvantage.〞
Coming up, what is Putin and Xi Jinping’s end game? Who’s the bigger threat to the US? Stay tuned.
Even though Russia is traditionally viewed as a European nation, Putin still sees Western countries as the enemy. In China, Xi Jinping also has ambitious goals in the West. What’s their end game? And who is a bigger threat to the U.S.?
Russia has been very aggressive both in the US and the rest of the world. Whether it’s meddling in US elections, cyber attacks on US infrastructure, or the UK spy poisoning, one thing is evident: Russia wants to show that it’s still an equal adversary to Western nations. Julie Ioffe, staff writer for The Atlantic, spoke about this at a Brookings forum on April 4th.
〝and, you know, the myriad expulsions on the Russian side; the statements about how the West hasn't proven anything -- both in terms of the poisoning and the election meddling -- is, I think, Putin trying to show that the West, and especially America, is not in a position to punish Russia because if you're the side punishing, you're the superior side, you're the kind of parent, or you're the senior partner or the parent in this relationship; and I think Putin is trying to very aggressively show that he's an equal; that Russia's a peer, and that it's not, you know, a recalcitrant child that you punish.〞
China, on the other hand, is different. Xi Jinping’s One Belt One Way strategy depicts an ambition that goes well beyond Asia. From land, One Belt One Way extends westward to east Europe; From water, the silk road crosses the red sea and enters the Mediterranean sea, casting its eye on all countries along the route. This is a region that has been under European spheres of influence for over 300 years.
What is Putin and Xi Jinping’s end game? Who is the bigger threat to America? China or Russia? Let’s hear from Chen Pokong again.
萧茗（Host/ Simone Gao）：〝您觉得，通过一带一路体现出来的习近平的全球战略是什么？〞
What is Xi Jinping’s global strategy reflected by one belt one way?
〝Oh, that’s Xi Jinping’s economic strategy internationally. Because Xi Jinping believes that, as the second largest economy and the emerging superpower in the world, China must do something. Militarily, however, there isn’t much for it to do for the time being. Territorially, China has been expanding its influence in the East and South China Seas, and over the Sino-Indian border dispute. However, it was very difficult for it to break through the first and second island chains. So it needs its economy to go abroad first. That’s why 〝One Belt One Way〞 came out. The project seems to be a replica of the ancient Silk Road. However, it attempts in reality to create a Beijing-centered world economic network rather than a US-centered one, by investing with China’s capital in the nearby countries, which will pay for the bills, and winning their support. Meanwhile, it will control those countries through massive local infrastructure investment, and extend the international influence of 〝a Red China〞 or 〝a Red Empire.〞 But the project has been unsuccessful. Western countries have responded coldly. They believe there are two basic things absent: an open bidding process and a fair treatment mechanism. Even in pro-China countries the plan has met with failures one after another. 〞
〝 Who’s the bigger threat to the US? China or Russia?〞
〝 As to the US-China-Russia relations, as I said, it is acknowledged that the threat from communist China has surpassed that of Russia, as shown in the US strategic, military and national defence reports, basically due to its economic strength. Russia’s economic strength or output is no more than that of one single Chinese province. Despite its aircraft, artillery, advanced weapons, and a huge nuclear arsenal, Russia is short of money and labor. So, its situation is much worse than before. Under such circumstances, both Russia and China are on their way to expand their influence. Comparatively, Russia is a semi-democratic state. Well, in communist China, the CCP monopolizes not only political rights, but also national economic resources in a much wider range. So, all of China’s resources go to one party, then go to one man. You see highly centralized power there. In this case, the top leader can mobilize the whole country, kidnap or coerce its 1.3 billion people to oppose foreign countries. It has a tremendous impact on the international community. So evidently, in the eyes of the American people, the threat from China is far more alarming than that of Russia.〞
On April 5, President Trump said he was considering imposing tariffs on an additional $100 billion dollars in imports from China, a major escalation in trade tensions with Beijing. One day later, the US Treasury Department announced fresh sanctions against 17 senior Russian government officials, seven Russian tycoons, and 12 Russian companies in response to Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections. There is no sign that the tensions among these three nations is subsiding. What will happen next? Stay tuned.《 Zooming In 》will always bring you fresh and complementary perspectives on the important issues in this world. This concludes today’s program. I am Simone Gao. We will see you next week.
撰稿：萧茗 Jessica Beatty
剪辑：郭靖 柏妮 凌帆 唐彬
翻译：张晓峰 Frank Yue 唐彬
听打：Jessica Beatty 唐彬
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