It has been a busy few days in the realm of international politics. From the use of chemical attacks in Syria, to the US retaliatory airstrike, the missile testing by North Korea, the G7 ministerial summit and finally the current negotiations between the US and Russia, it has certainly been testing times. But as we address these issues, there are so many questions to ask, but let us try and keep a focus. So here are my questions. First of all, where are we now with the US and Russia? And second of all, where do I see the situation heading in the future?
Where we have come from
If we start from where we are now, the #United States #Secretary Of State Rex Tillerson is meeting his direct counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.
But relations are not very good at the moment. This was emphasised by the Russian President Vladimir Putin who, according to Reuters, stated that "the level of trust, on a working level, has not improved but has rather deteriorated". Things are how they are due to the differences in Syria. The Russians are on the side of the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, who is engaged in a bloody civil war with the rebel forces. Up until last week the US had not formally intervened into the conflict, due to the policies of former President Barack Obama and the current commander in chief, #Donald Trump. But things changed last week when it emerged that chemical weapons had been used against the Syrian public by Assad, which killed 87 people. It has since emerged, as the Daily Mirror states, that the deadly sarin gas was used. It was this action that led to the United States becoming involved.
The BBC reported that an air strike, conducted by the US, "damaged or destroyed" 20 per cent of Syria's operational aircraft. It was this retaliation that led to the breakdown of relations between Moscow and Washington. What is certain is that Russia are hurting. It is clear that they have an inferiority complex which has been there since the end of the Cold War. They are not what they were and they know it. They are desperate to be seen as major players on the international scene (especially Putin) and this may be the reason why they continue to align themselves with the likes of Assad and Iran. It may also be the case that they do not want to seen as just another nation, and just following the ways of the powerful United States. It may be because of this that two things have happened; first of all the strong rhetoric by Russia. As reported in the Guardian newspaper, not only did Putin state that the attack was "in violation of international law", but Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stated that the attack had left the US "on the verge of a military clash with Russia".
The second thing to have happened was the frosty relations between the two when Tillerson met with Lavrov, which was predictable given what has happened.
The current situation
So in answering the first question, where are we with Russia and the US? It is certainly not good. Whilst many criticisms can be levelled at Moscow, it is important to note that Trump and his administration have not helped. This is because there have been mixed messages sent from Trump and his administration as to where they stand on foreign policy matters. In addition to Trump himself, the Secretary of State (Tillerson) and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley have offered different responses to the administration's foreign policy position. The actions in Syria was also a change from the rhetoric spoken in the campaign, where the "America First" policy was promoted. It just seems that Trump and his team do not know what their policy is abroad, and if they even have a long term strategy in the region. It is because of this and the other factors mentioned that have led to the current breakdown in relations. The Russians are hurt, the US unsure of what it wants and this confusion is helping no one.
With regards to the future, Donald Trump has to be clear what his agenda is. I also expect the Russians to continue to defy the international community and support Assad further. They are simply not going to listen to the US, especially as there will not be any sanctions (for now) placed on their heads. We do seem to be entering a rocky period globally. We do need to remember who the real enemy is and not get caught up in issues that are unnecessary. The stability of the global order is relying on both countries going forward to get along.