(GPA) Washington, D.C. – In what may be one of his first positive foreign policy moves, word is coming out of the White House that Donald Trump may be considering lifting the sanctions on Russia.
Donald Trump is expected to have a phone call with Vladimir Putin tomorrow and according to some staffers, lifting sanctions may be on the bargaining table. The sanctions have been in place and renewed multiple times since 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea.
Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told several media outlets today that the removal of sanctions are “under consideration.” Conway told CBS news that “I assume they will discuss, in the interests of their respective countries, how to come together and work together on issues where you can find common ground and where these two nations could maybe defeat radical Islamic terrorism.”
While we can’t be sure about the two countries finding common ground on how to combat terrorism, especially with Trump’s recent talk of safe zones, but hopefully there will be some kind of genuine improvement of relations. Trump said as much in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal that “”If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?”
Fox News tried to corner Conway with the usual anti Russian propaganda, asking her if Russia would first have to “change their behavior in order to get those sanctions lifted? By not carving up other countries and not destroying families and towns indiscriminately, like they’re doing in Syria?” Conway replied that a part of Trump’s America first policy would decide “his foreign-policy and national-security moves.” She reassured the warhawks that “he will call out other nations when he believes [that what they’re doing] is not in the American interest … in the interest of humanity…But that’s what these conversations are for, these private conversations with world leaders.”
Speaking of warhawks, the usual suspect, Senator John McCain came out after Conway’s interviews with his usual Russophobic garbage. McCain (and presumably more lawmakers will follow) spoke out against Trump, warning him not to make any “reckless” decisions on sanctions and saying he would fight the lifting of them. A statement from McCain read “For the sake of America’s national security and that of our allies, I hope President Trump will put an end to this speculation and reject such a reckless course, If he does not, I will work with my colleagues to codify sanctions against Russia into law.”
McCain is of course a man who will back people like Ukrainian Nazis if they’re willing to fight against Russia, but more Trump may also have to deal with some opposition from his own staff in trying to make the move as well. Trump’s own picks for head of the Pentagon and the CIA both said in their confirmation hearings that they also considered Russia a top threat to US interests and global stability.
According to Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, Moscow has no knowledge about this as of today. Peskov said as far as he knows, the talk of lifting sanctions have just been rumors so far (perhaps he missed Conway’s interview), and said the media should “be patient” since “This is the first contact by phone since President Trump assumed office so it is hardly likely there will be substantive contact on all issues.”
While we here at Geopolitics Alert may disagree with a lot of Trump’s proposals for foreign policy, we have to admit this is actually a possibly positive one. Trump will have to make a major break with most of the US political establishment (as well as EU partners) to carry this out but the unjust sanctions on Russia should have been lifted long ago. Peskov is probably right, we should be patient to see if this actually happens, but this could actually be a good start.
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Image: Flickr – Gage Skidmore and openDemocracy
James Carey is an organizer based in Detroit, Michigan, founder of Geopolitics Alert, and an experienced analyst on Middle Eastern affairs with a particular focus on Turkey. He also covers topics ranging from Latin America and Asia to Europe. You can also hear James in his weekly podcast; The Left is Dead which he co-hosts with investigative journalist Jake Anderson.