Relations between the US and Russia continue to worsen, with tensions rivaling the worst days of the Cold War. It didn’t have to be that way, however, as some leaked Russian documents revealed.
Buzzfeed News revealed that documents laid out the agenda of Russian President Vladimir Putin wanting a total “reset” of ties with the United States early this year, and had an entire roadmap set out intending to end in total rapprochement.
The Putin government believed that the Trump Administration would’ve been supportive of this, despite obvious Congressional opposition. There’s ample reason for them to have had this belief, too, as President Trump was very public in his interest in normalizing ties with Russia since the election.
But saying he wanted to normalize ties and being willing to go out on a limb and make it happen were two different things, and the Trump Administration ultimately declined to roll back Obama-era sanctions, playing up the anti-Russia narrative.
That this didn’t happen was a source of substantial frustration within the Putin government, which has been increasingly vocal with their resentment of Trump for failing to follow through on any improvement in diplomatic ties. Kremlin officials have presented this as a sign of weakness on Trump’s part, that he feels too politically vulnerable to even try to deliver on this goal.
Whatever this means for bilateral relations going forward, the documents prove Russia was very much available for rapprochement. That this didn’t happen is another lost opportunity for the US, which is instead putting itself into a dangerous position with ever-worsening ties.