By Declan Carey
JOE Biden’s plan to mend US-Russian relations may prove impossible following years of hostility, an expert has told Redaction Politics.
As President, Donald Trump appeared to enjoy a positive relationship with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Behind the scenes though, sanctions targeted Russian firms due to the illegal occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea and assassination attempts on political figures, including the March 2018 nerve agent attack on UK citizen and former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
Dr Rubrick Biegon of Kent University told Redaction Politics there is real appetite among Joe Biden’s team to de-escalate tensions and cooperate internationally.
He said: “Despite the apparent affinity that the two leaders [Trump and Putin] have for one another, there is still quite a bit of tension between the bilateral relationship with the US adding more sanctions over Russia and continuing tensions over Ukraine.
“Biden provides a bit more predictability, with Trump they didn’t necessarily know what to make of him.
“The Biden administration would genuinely like to improve relations with Moscow.
“That’s because of the tripartite geopolitical relationship with China, they are quite careful thinking long-term not to push Russia into the Chinese camp.
“They [America] will probably leave in place the sanctions that have been put on Russia for a while and they won’t be in any hurry to remove those or do anything big.
“Where we have seen a big swing in recent years is not so much on Russia but on China.
“Trump’s more adversarial posture vis a vis China has really moved the needle on that for American politics in general.”
Trump blamed China for the global spread of Covid-19, often referring to it as the ‘Chinese virus’ at public events.
Data from Pew Research showed that more Americans started to view China as a ‘major threat’ to the United States during Trump’s presidency.
At the other end of the scale, only a minority of Americans, 47 per cent, see Russia as a major cause for concern.
At this point, the amount of work needed to mend US-Russian ties will likely prevent any significant progress being made according to Dr Biegon.
He said: “I think Russia and the United States probably do want to cooperate, I just don’t know if there is the political space over the next few years for the work, particularly on the American side.
“There is quite a lot of work that would need to be done to get to the point diplomatically.
“I think the Biden administration will be mainly focused on domestic issues for the next four years.”
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