The US-Russia relationship is not likely to further deteriorate in the near future, said Zhang Zhixin, researcher at the China Institutes for Contemporary International Relations, in an interview with Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily.
Donald Trump and his team apparently expect a major power relation with both cooperation and competition, Zhang said. The US is in need of Russia’s help in its battle against the so-called Islamic State, while also seeing Russia as a geopolitical rival in issues like the Ukraine conflict, the expansion of NATO and the deployment of a missile defense system surrounding Russia, according to the scholar.
The Trump administration has lost its credibility, especially among Republicans in Congress, over Russia’s alleged interference in the US presidential election, Zhang said. Congress has aimed to restrict Trump’s power, as new sanction bills against Russia have restricted Trump’s right to cancel certain items, according to the scholar. Since he came to office, Trump has presented an “unreliable” image due to his ambiguity and instability in matters of foreign policy, Zhang said.
The US and Russia are now in a tit-for-tat situation and the future status of their relation depends on whether the two countries are to make provocative moves, Zhang said. Currently there is no reason for Russia to be aggressive, the scholar said. It is of strategic benefit for Russia to improve relations with the US and persuade the country to remove sanctions, especially at the moment when oil prices are down, Zhang said.
US strategists still see Russia as a clear rival, but on Trump’s agenda, Zhang believes, Russia is not as important for the moment. Trump’s major task is still to expand employment, boost economic growth and combat terrorism, he said. The Trump administration is facing more urgent threats from Islamic State, North Korea and Iran. Therefore there’s little reason for the US to provoke Russia at the moment, Zhang said.