Pre Meeting with Putin Commentary
It is clear to the blind that both sides are coming at this from a completely different direction in regards to Syria. What is worse is that this is far from being the only major issue on the table, talking about hacking and Russian interference in US & European elections. Neither side can afford to be perceived as taking a weak position because there is a lot at stake. In negotiations like this the conventional wisdom in my mind is to walk away without a deal better than striking a bad one. This helps narrow the options down to 1; using this opportunity to take a stand/make a point of reaffirming their position-this would be the advise I would make to the U.S. and the West in general. The suggestion that Tillerson can convince Russia to abandon Assad is naive at best when it is clear that Russia in its recent actions in Syria post the U.S. attack and the statement made by Lavrov threatening the US against further action in Syria even before negotiation began is that Russia is upping the stakes and for good reasons;
- They can see there is no agreement between western allies on the way to respond to Russia, particularly with the EU’s security concerns post BREXIT
- The chaos caused by the resurgence of ultra-right parties in Europe ones that favor better ties with Russia.
- Russia’s geopolitical ambitions to play a key role on the global stage
In my view Russia in its current posture/leadership will not respond but to an equally serious demonstration by U.S. & the West of their determination/unity in standing up against Russia’s return to Soviet style politics/approach in dealing with the world. If this does not happen then brace yourselves for continued/increased instability in the Middle East and to the return of a prolonged period of Cold war possibly in a new more threatening form than we’ve seen in the past.
Post Meeting with Putin Commentary
Following is my takeaway from Tillerson/Lavrov press conference post the meeting with Putin on 12/04/2017;
- The suggestion of a joint investigation into the Syrian attack is in my mind a utter waste of time and money. If we believe that Russia will come clean on Assad with any form of investigation then we’re probably hallucinating; we’ve seen how their investigations work like ones involved in the downing of the Malaysian Airline or over Ukraine. What I would suggest is provide them with evidence and indeed publicize evidence collected by US security agencies to ensure global public opinion is on the right side-similar to the approach once adopted by the U.S. State Department in fending off Soviet disinformation through their Active Measures approach.
- It is not surprising that Foreign Minister Lavrov uses the press conference to open other conflict files like North Korea and the Palestinian issue as it ties in with their objective to play more of a leading role in global affairs. I would suggest that the U.S. and the West resist taking this bate and insist that the focus should be solely on Syria. Russia cannot be under any illusion of playing any such role-at least in so far as their would be any from of Western support-in its current posture.