Letter From the Editors: June 5 - 11, 2017

Author: Matthew Larson

Allegations of Trump-Russia Collusion Dampen Prospects for Trump-Putin Cooperation.

The Russian and American presidents are apparently eager to repair relations between their two countries - much to the irritation of other politicians and officials in both countries who are seeking to mount pressure on the other side. However, the biggest issue preventing Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump from taking steps toward rapprochement are US Congressional investigations into suspicions that Russian interference in the US 2016 presidential election was coordinated with the Trump campaign.

Analyst Vladimir Frolov says that while there may be red flags, there is still no smoking gun on the issue of Trump-Russian collusion: "This remains a murky story, and it might be wise not to over-connect the dots. But it is now consuming more and more of the US political space and has created tight constraints on Trump’s Russia policy, denying Moscow hopes for a quick change in tone with the US." While the investigation certainly isn’t doing Trump any favors, it is definitely boosting Putin’s image at home and scoring him geopolitical points, which will come in handy for Putin’s 2018 reelection prospects, Frolov comments.

Speaking of those prospects, Tatyana Stanovaya says there is evidence of growing competition among the Russian president’s cabinet ministers and aides for influencing Putin’s prospective campaign platform: "What’s especially interesting is that each of these centers of influence is trying to distance itself from past practices and to seem more progressive (not more conservative) than its competitors." This partly explains why some people in the president’s circle want to ratchet up pressure on the US, while others want to tone it down and focus on more pragmatic issues.

For her part, Nadezhda Arbatova says the fault lines in Russian-US relations simply run too deep and are too convoluted for tensions to ever thaw entirely. She says "it’s impossible for one side to ...

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