Hostile US actions, starting with diplomatic expulsions and seizing of compounds back in December, were met with shrugs and delays from the Russian Federation, with fairly public expectations that President Trump would, soon after taking office, reverse course.
President Trump was very clear about wanting good relations with Russia, and the Putin government was very clear about holding off any retaliation, waiting for Trump to come through. At this point, they’re done waiting, and starting to retaliate.
This both reflects growing impatience within Russia to do something about repeated US sanctions and public brow-beating of Russia, and a growing recognition among top officials that President Trump’s “political impotence” means he’s never going to deliver what he promised.
Last week’s Russian announcement of its first retaliations, similar to the December moves in expulsions and seizing compounds, is not the end of the deal, and Russian experts say this is more likely the first salvo in a series of retaliations that Russia would’ve made months ago, if they didn’t have faith in Trump to deliver.
That means the retaliation is likely to continue, tit-for-tat, through the rest of the Summer and well into Autumn, as Russia, having realized that waiting the US out wasn’t going to lead to normalization, hopes that retaliation can at least oblige the US to be a little more measured in their moves.
Whether this will work or not isn’t at all clear, but the Kremlin appears to have decided just waiting on their responses is no longer an option,and while it might ultimately mean a further escalation of the new Cold War, doing nothing doesn’t seem to have provided any better results.