MOSCOW – There is a lot of speculation about Russia’s true feelings after the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
Many here seem genuinely enthusiastic about the prospect of a rapprochement between Washington and Moscow. In recent years, 80 percent of Russians polled said they had a negative view of the United States. Improved ties could be a boon to the economies of both, and could help settle a number of burning global issues. If things all work out…
But some observers are taking a darker view, suggesting that Russia is glad to see a bit of chaos brewing in the U.S., hoping that will cause President Trump to focus more domestically, and turn a blind eye to Russian actions abroad.
One Moscow councilman tweeted after the inauguration, “That’s it. Trump is President. America is ours.”
Today, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said apropos of Russia and the United States, “We see quite a few things eye to eye when it comes to interpretation of many important foreign policy goals, which were declared by Donald Trump and which closely overlap with President Putin’s vision of the Russian Federation’s foreign policy goals.” Lavrov added, “Donald Trump is clearly pursuing the United States vital interests, rather than attempts to interfere in other countries’ business. The Russian Federation carries out its foreign policy according to the very same principles.”
The Russian capital is still all glitzy with Christmas lights (Orthodox Epiphany was a few days ago—their season is just winding down). The shops and restaurants are open late and seem to have decent stock. Central Moscow does not, at least on the surface, seem down and out. Russian officials are quick to say, concerning whether Trump will drop the sanctions on this country, that they didn’t work anyway.
In other words, they did not bring Russia to its knees. They did not change policy. And President Vladimir Putin’s popularity has only gone up.
The Kremlin has tried to tamp down some of the euphoria about this supposed and imminent new era—not to count chickens before they hatch. And analysts are urging caution about Trump’s chances.
Alexei Arbatov of the Moscow Carnegie Center said, “There is no certainty he will succeed, but the politics of Moscow will be conducive and since it takes two to tango—the position of Moscow toward the Obama Administration was quite confrontational. The position toward Trump will be more flexible.”
Many before President Donald Trump have caught glimpses of soul, or been revved up for a reset, and that includes some Western European leaders. Money here is on Trump’s “pragmatism” giving him the goods others have lacked.
Amy Kellogg currently serves as a Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent based in Milan, Italy. She joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 1999 as a Moscow-based correspondent. Follow her on Twitter: @amykelloggfox