“Trump’s willingness to take such drastic actions means for us a whole new spectrum of opportunities and responsibility.”Dmitry Kuleba, Ukraine’s permanent representative to the Council of Europe
April 8, 2017 – Fort Russ –
By Eduard Popov – translated by J. Arnoldski –
The missile strike on a Syrian airbase on April 7th by US ships in the Mediterranean Sea buried hopes for a warming of relations between the US and Russia with the ascent of Donald Trump’s White House. The prevailing opinion among Russian experts is that Trump was forced to pursue the previous administration’s foreign policy program in the Middle East. Others argue that Trump’s hardened actions and rhetoric towards Russia are the new US President’s bargaining for giving him a free hand in implementing his domestic program. Yet perhaps these explanations are marked by a degree of confusion and self-deception on our part.
People in Russia see Trump like they want to see him. But Trump the Republican is merely trying to regain America’s role as the main cowboy which it lost after two terms of a Democratic President. Therefore, the clash of US and Russian interests in Syria (and not only Syria) was probably predetermined. And our attempts to explain this as the insidious influence of the Democrats is another self-deception.
The US really did behave in the spirit of a cowboy in bombarding a sovereign state with 59 cruise missiles which hit a base where Russian troops were present. This was probably done even with a view towards them possibly being killed. Fortunately, this did not happen, but Syrian troops were killed. But who can guarantee that Russian or American troops won’t be killed next time?
The situation in Syria’s skies was very disturbing in the last several months of Barack Obama’s presidency. Military experts repeatedly warned of the danger of a high-speed collision of Russian and American aircraft in Syria’s airspace. Yesterday, Russia suspended the memorandum on preventing air incidents over Syria, which means that the probability of a collision, even accidental, only increases. Yet Russia was compelled to take this step, just as it was forced to send the Admiral Grigorovich frigate to the Syrian coast. Russia is responding to US actions with a show of force. These non-allies could at any moment become enemies in not a cold, but hot war.
Frightening news is coming from Europe as well. Western countries and their satellites are being locked in place against Russia. French President Hollande and German Chancellor Merkel expressed solidarity with President Trump’s actions which are an obvious violation of international law. From the point of view of Western countries, political expediency (the desire to “punish” countries deemed “wrong”, such as Syria, Russia, etc.) overrides respect for international law and the basic principle of national sovereignty.
This gives the US’ European allies justification to intensify NATO encroachment on Russia’s borders as well as close their eyes to the failure of their domestic policies, first and foremost the crisis of migration from Muslim countries. The worsening situation in Syria and strengthening of anti-Russian rhetoric undoubtedly increase the electoral chances of pro-government candidates such as Macron in France and Merkel and the CDU/CSU in Germany. As follows, they avoid the need to explain to the peoples of European the feasibility of building up NATO infrastructure near Russia’s borders and intensifying military exercises in the Baltic states and Poland.
Ukraine, a satellite of the West, rapidly responded to the changing situation. Reports are coming in from Donbass on a supposedly impending UAF attack on the People’s Republics. These concerns are partially confirmed by the statements of Ukrainian diplomats. Ukraine’s’ permanent representative to the Council of Europe, Dmitry Kuleba, stated that the US’ nighttime missile attack on Syria strengthens Kiev’s position “in the war with Russia.” He believes that “Trump’s willingness to take such drastic actions means for us a whole new spectrum of opportunities and responsibility.” This is a more than transparent hint that Ukraine will announce an offensive on the Donbass republics and hope for the US’ political and military assistance. This Ukrainian diplomat should not have made such a statement which contradicts Minsk-2 and reveals Kiev’s plans, but, as always, emotions triumph over cold calculation in the mind of young Ukrainian diplomacy.
There is every reason to believe that not only will the Middle East, but also the European theater of rivalry between the West and Russia will be aggravated. One does not want to say aloud just how far this confrontation could go. And one really does not want to think that the Old World could turn into a continent on fire in the likes of the Middle East to which US’ cruise missiles will bring democracy.