Russia sees Trump as “lost cause”

That’s what the Washington Post is reporting:

“The Russians have gotten past the phase where they thought with President Trump they would be able to move the relationship in a different direction,” said Thomas Graham, senior director for Russia on the George W. Bush National Security Council staff and now managing director at Kissinger Associates Inc.

“This is qualitatively worse than any post-Cold War period,” Graham said.

Andrew Weiss, who held senior Russia policy positions during both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, echoed this view. “The Russians basically see the Trump administration as a lost cause,” he told the Post.

This news should put the final nail in the Russia collusion story. If Russia had evidence that Trump colluded with Russia, I assume it would not consider his administration a lost cause. Rather, it would be confident it could use that evidence to influence Trump administration policy. U.S.-Russia relations would not be “qualitatively worse than [during] any post-Cold War period.”

Are Graham and Weiss exaggerating? I don’t think so. Consider these facts noted by the Post, facts that give the lie to the claim by Post reporters that former president Obama was tougher on Russia that President Trump:

U.S. defense officials have consistently cited Russia as the most significant strategic threat to the United States, and the primary reason to build up its defense budget.

Gen. John Hyten, who leads U.S. Strategic Command, said in a speech Wednesday that Russia poses “the only existential threat to the country.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that there will be no warming of relations with Russia until it abandons its 2014 annexation of Crimea, something Russia has vowed never to do. The administration has reversed an Obama-era prohibition against providing lethal weapons to the Ukrainian military. In the first major implementation of that decision, it notified Congress on Thursday of plans to sell 210 antitank missiles to Ukraine.

Tillerson has also come down increasingly hard on Russia for failing to control the brutal attacks against civilians by the government of President Bashar al-Assad that it supports in Syria. . . .

Both the United States and Russia have now outlined expansions of their nuclear arsenals, and it remains unclear whether New START, the primary arms-reduction treaty in effect between the two, will remain viable beyond its expiration date of 2021. Each has also charged the other with violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Trump’s decision to sell Javelin antitank missiles to Ukraine is big news. These weapons can be used in combat against Russian-backed separatists. The Obama administration steadfastly refused to sell any weapons to Ukraine.

With the Russia collusion story in tatters, the Post is beginning to push a new anti-Trump Russia narrative, one that casts Trump as too anti-Russia. In service of this line, the Post trots out arms control experts who deplore the absence of cooperation between Trump and Putin. And it quotes the head of the Ploughshares Fund, a peacenik outfit, who says: “If you missed the Cold War, it looked a lot like right now.”

The left, it seems, is reverting to form. Just as during much of the real Cold War and much of the Obama administration, the left favors accommodating Russia. It only pretended not to when it thought Trump could be discredited for accommodating Russia.

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