Friday, November 11, 2016


I've been worried that Russia especially might try something aggressive to take advantage of the presidential transition period when Putin believed President Obama would be particularly reticent to react strongly. Did that worry rely on a Clinton presidency in January?

I ask because of this:

After years of rising U.S.-Russia tensions over Ukraine, Syria, cyber attacks and nuclear arms control, Donald Trump's election as U.S. president may offer a narrow window to repair relations as he and Russian President Vladimir Putin size up each other.

I don't think Trump's rise means any such thing any more than Hillary Clinton's "reset" with Russia as President Obama's secretary of state prevented our relations from deteriorating as Russia grew increasingly hostile to NATO and invaded Ukraine.

And I truly believe the Russians expected a politically crippled Clinton would take office in January and be particularly vulnerable to Russian suggestions that she back off because of certain information that Russian hackers have in their possession.

The period starting now might have been seen as quite the opportunity to grab the goodies while America is unable to react.

But if the Russians think there is a chance that President Trump will be more friendly to Russia, can the Russians really afford to act all Russia-like over the next 3 months and put a new reset at risk?

Could our election cause Russia to stand down in their adventures in Ukraine and Syria, while scaling back provocative statements and military moves toward NATO states?

I guess we will see how inclined Russia is toward behaving a bit, given that Russia's only aircraft carrier is conspicuously standing off of Syria ready to pound Aleppo where rebels still hold their ground. Does that task force unleash Hell from the sky with missiles and bombs or does Russia wait to see if Trump is as friendly to Russia as so many Hillary backers claimed?

We'll see if Putin really believes Trump is better for Russia.

UPDATE: Hmm, the Russian carrier is not launching strikes:

Russia's Interfax news agency on Friday had cited a Russian military and diplomatic source as saying that Russian MiG and Sukhoi jets have been regularly flying into Syrian airspace from the Kuznetsov to "determine combat missions."

Is this an indication that the Russians don't want to strike, perhaps verifying my question? Or is it a sign of the inability of the carrier to integrate information from the land-based Russian planes that have surely amassed much information on recon runs already?

And is this diplomacy an effort to leverage the presence of the Russian carrier while the Russians try to avoid provoking the incoming Trump administration?

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday it would need the U.N. mission in Syria to formally confirm its ability to deliver aid to eastern Aleppo before Moscow agreed to any new humanitarian pauses in fighting in the shattered Syrian city.

Or it could just be an effort to provide a pretext to unleash the bombardment.