Russia: Cheering Trump’s NATO policy
Russia had every reason to dread last week’s NATO summit, said Nezavisimaya Gazeta in an editorial. Since 1997, when NATO and Russia signed a pact establishing mutual relations, the problems between the two sides have all come from NATO’s actions. NATO expanded into former Warsaw Pact territory and bombed Russia’s ally Yugoslavia, while the U.S. withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and overtly and covertly supported anti-Russian policies in Ukraine and Georgia. Yet, with breathtaking presumption, many of NATO’s 28 members still want to paint Russia “as a potential enemy threatening military aggression against Eastern Europe.” In Brussels, though, President Trump wasn’t having it. His main priority was getting other member nations to properly fund their armed forces and meet NATO’s goal that each country spend at least 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense. Russia was, if anything, an afterthought.
In fact, Moscow is no longer NATO’s focus, said Mikhail Korostikov in Kommersant. Trump has prevailed in his insistence on a fundamental shift in the alliance “from countering Russia to countering terrorism.” Trump’s speech to the alliance focused on Islamist violence, and he got NATO to formally join the U.S.-led coalition battling ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The supposed Russian threat, which had been the most important issue for alliance members since the Ukraine crisis began in 2014, “has now moved to second place.”
Ultimately, “there is always only one man running the show in NATO—the U.S. president,” said Alexander Rahr in Izvestia. His priorities are the alliance’s priorities. Sure, Trump briefly mentioned that Russia was a threat, but he was clearly forced to do so by domestic considerations, given that his staff is being investigated for alleged ties to the Kremlin. In fact, with Trump in charge, Russia has a unique opportunity to improve relations with NATO, particularly on “common ground such as the fight against ISIS.” The test will come in July, when Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. That’s when we’ll know “whether Trump has truly reformed the alliance,” and whether NATO-Russia cooperation can finally resume.
Trump won’t be able to dominate the G-20 as he did NATO, said Maxim Makarychev in Rossiyskaya Gazeta. Look at last week’s G-7 meeting of Western leaders, held in Italy just after the NATO summit. It was “almost a total failure” because of Trump’s reluctance to listen to his foreign counterparts. On climate change and the European migration crisis, two issues the rest of the group desperately wanted to address, Trump showed “complete indifference.” Back when Russia used to attend those summits, before the annexation of Crimea, some wags called the group the G-7 + 1 to indicate Russia’s outsider status. Now, thanks to Trump, we can call it “the G-6 + 1,” with the U.S. as the outcast.