Members of the Russian State Duma Vitaly Milonov (United Russia) and Vladimir Sysoyev (LDPR) didn’t waste any time over thinking about ways to mend Russia-US relations.
Vitaly Milonov, who is also a member of the State Duma Foreign Relations Committee has recently said the following:
Our nations are the largest economic and cultural centres of our planet. Our nations possess developed economies, powerful military forces, the largest trade ties all over the world and this allows them to influence global political agenda. Unfortunately, due to myopic policies of the US administration and its push towards global hegemony, the relations between our countries have deteriorated to record lows.
In the current situation it might be reasonable to set up a working group of Russian and US lawmakers who would concentrate on normalisation of relations between our countries… This group could start developing a road-map for the process as well as work on particular contradictions between our states that have accumulated over recent years.
This plan whilst ambitious, seems both necessary in its implications and optimistic in its presentation. Milonov’s remarks demonstrate how attitudes in Russia have been cautiously yet instantaneously changed upon Donald Trump’s election.
America has gone from being an antagonistic enemy to being viewed as a potential, genuine and perhaps even inevitable partner. One needn’t know a great deal about the last 70 years of history to realise that this represents a positive move for world peace.
Even whilst Milonov’s suggestion remains hypothetical, it has already proved Donald Trump correct in the following way. He said that Russian politicians do not respect Obama, but that they will respect him. Milonov’s remarks are case in point on that particular issue.
A lot of this cooperation however, depends on the ability of US Congressmen and Senators to take up the gauntlet. Although the Republicans have won both houses of Congress, just how these Republicans will react to a Trump presidency is something of a mystery. Trump’s own party did all that they could to sabotage his campaign. He won not because of but in spite of them.
During the campaign, it often felt that many Republicans not only sought but anticipated a Clinton victory, after which Trump would be effectively ostracised from the party, and the establishment Republican leadership would return to ‘business as usual’.
Trump’s victory is many things, but business as usual, it most certainly is not. The question therefore is, will Republicans entrench themselves in an anti-Trump position, working against their own President or will they quietly if not sheepishly endorse Trump’s positions, if for no other reason than for the sake of their party and their own careers? I believe that these two positions are not mutually exclusive. In this instance, it comes down to whether the majority of Congressional Republicans engage with Trump or oppose him?
Politicians being politicians, I have a sneaking suspicion that most will opt to work with Trump. Many of these Republicans may be foolish, but they are not stupid. They now must understand that the people’s mandate is with Trump and not with politicians who have opposed him. If Bernie Sanders understands this from an intellectual and ideological perspective, surely the Republicans will understand it from an opportunistic perspective. If this is how things unfold, there is a chance that Milonov’s proposals can become a reality.
Turning back to the Duma, LDPR Duma member Vladimir Sysoyev proposed an annual week of Russian-American friendship, where cultural exchanges and activities promoting understanding and cooperation between the two countries would take place. This is a marvelous idea. Throughout history, it is not politicians alone who changes hearts and minds. In many instances it is culture which leads in these areas and can even help to force the hands of politicians to amend confrontational policies which go against the will of peoples to live in cultural harmony.
The fact that such proposals have come from the LDPR is itself quite surprising. Under Clinton, Obama and Bush, the LDPR were ferociously opposed to both American foreign policy and American cultural imperialism. Donald Trump’s Personal appeal and his reaching out to Russia in a spirit of peace, seems to have changed this attitude greatly and rapidly.
Whilst many are focusing on the last gasp of George Soros funded anti-Trump protests in America, protests Obama has done virtually nothing to stop nor condemn, the world ought to focus on the positive outcomes of Trump’s victory. I never thought I would see members of United Russia let alone the LDPR, saying what they have said about America. In this sense Trump has already helped create the spirit of unity and respect he spoke of hours after winning his historic election.