Monday, March 30, 2020

Trump Wants To Talk.

With Putin. Sure, I agree with him--dialog is good. As Ria reports (in Russian) the topics of upcoming phone call will be Covid-19, trade (???) and, you guessed it, oil prices. Yes, about that. My question, immediately, is--so what's on offer from Trump? This is how it works, quid-pro-quo--you want something, you offer something in return. Especially when your hand is extremely weak, and I mean very weak:
Russia can wait. Saudis cannot.
And neither can the United States, because so much rides on "shale oil". But remember, quid-pro-quo. So, what the United States can offer to Russia, granted that US promises as history shows are not worth the paper they are written on, on this matter? It is an interesting issue, because now "giving", that is stopping the sabotage, Nord Stream-2 is not enough--rules have changed dramatically. And if maroons from the American think-tankdom are yet to get the message, Trump, it seems, understands the stakes. Hence the call to Moscow. So what will Putin demand from Trump? But even better question is what realistically the United States can "give" Putin and Russia and this is a point at which this whole quid-pro-quo things runs into trouble, because realistically, there is nothing the United States can offer which will not be either taken or will fall as a ripe apple into Putin's hands. I could, of course, speculate on the prolongation of the START treaty as a viable commodity, but Russia is well positioned to be just fine without this prolongation. 

Putin, of course, also knows real economic situation in the United States. Sure, US will regain a semblance of economic balance once this Covid-19 thingy blows over, but the balance of power was changing globally since 2008 and now the scale of this gigantic shift becomes obvious with the United States in a full departure mode, and this is before we here even begin to feel a real squeeze from high inflation and contraction of US GDP projected by some "analysts" at 30%. And then, of course, there are indications now that Moscow doesn't really care about who is in power in D.C. since no matter who wins US elections, Russian-American relations are broken completely. They will deteriorate even more and here is the main point: Russia's role now is primarily not some quid-pro-quo with the US, but strategic containment of the country which is increasingly irrational and may, out of desperation, unleash a conflict which may grow into a full blown World War. Russia's task is to prevent such a development. Considering the fact that Trump stuffed his admin with war-mongering lunatics, I think Putin will be more interested in discussing issues of strategic stability since, in the end, it will fall to Russia to clean up the mess. As for oil--it can wait. Covid-19 cannot. 

UPDATE: same day. They spoke. It was about oil and no, Russia is not talking about lifting sanctions. Not interested. 
The Trump-Putin call came at the request of the U.S. and was “prolonged,” according to the Kremlin, which didn’t specify how long it lasted. Trump’s view on the the dispute marks a shift from earlier this month, when he likened the plunge in oil prices to a “tax cut” for Americans. The U.S. president spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on March 9 about the dispute. Trump has long argued that improving relations between Washington and Moscow could help solve international disputes. The president said he wanted to discuss trade with Putin, though he said he expected the Russian president to raise objections to U.S. sanctions. State-run Tass quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying that Putin didn’t ask Trump for sanctions relief on the call.
Pay attention, again, to what is highlighted in yellow. That matters. And, of course, the other question is what is going on between Russia and Saudis BEHIND the scene. I am 100% positive that the activity on Saudi side is feverish right now.

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