Russian and United States relations are a mixed bag and the news media is not helping clear the connection, especially lately as it has become politically advantageous for Trump critics to latch onto an evidence-lacking conspiracy theory that Russia not only paved the way for Trump to get into office, but did so with the collusion and cooperation of the Trump campaign. Due to the accusations there are multiple government probes investigating any such collusion in which Democratic senator Feinstein admitted there was no evidence of, but the hopes among most Democrats are that this will change if enough digging takes place. Unsurprisingly, Trump calls the whole thing a total hoax. All of this criticism comes as a total about-face from Democrats whom in the last election cycle mocked Mitt Romney for calling Russia America’s top geopolitical threat. This was because the Obama administration was comically cozy with Putin’s Russian.
So are America and Putin’s-Russia friends or enemies? I’m asking rhetorically because this post is presuming to know that the answer is that they’re Frenemies: Never been very chummy with each other but different presidents have had different strategies. Bush and Obama pretty much kissed Putins butt to try and get cooperation on certain global actions and avoid direct conflicts. Hillary Clintons approach was to try to be a badass and trash talk Russia like it would shame its government into doing things we wanted and make her look like a big strong woman standing up to a big scary power she strategized that she could tame or contain. Trump has a more Trumpian policy approach where he talks nice and then sets blunt terms. This is on display in particular in the recent news that the U.S. ordered Russia to close their consulate in San Fransisco in what is described as a tit-for-tat move.
Imagine it like we’re gonna go out to lunch and Anastasia is like “Richard is pretty awesome. Great guy. Fair man. And he agrees with fairness, especially towards friends, right?” baiting Richard to be like, “eff yea I’m awesome and great. I’m so awesome and great you outta pick up my tab for this meal. wudda ya say?” and Anastasia comes in with the hook saying “I absolutely would do that you awesome dude. Although I grilled-cheesed you yesterday, so – you being such a fair dude, you outta actually be paying for me this time around – but yea man, you’re the-tits!” and then Richard, who had plans to get a free meal, is now paying for himself & Anastasia’s.
Anastasia is Trump and Richard is Putin in that scenario. In the news link shared, what happened was that Russia claimed it wanted parity (that means equality – like parallel) with the US on “missions in each others countries”. So the Trump administration move was to be like “Absolutely my friend. We will help you meet this effort. How many American government consulates [offices] do you have in Russia? 3? okie dokie artichokie – we will order the closing of Russian consulates in America so we can get our number down to 3 as well. Big hug my friend!”
So in other words, Kremlin was saying “lets make things fair [implying a balancing in their favor would achieve this]” and the Trump admin was like “sure thing, bro. lemme just check the numbers and make it fair [knowing its not what they wanted, but doing it with a smile as a legitimate execution of the stated desire]”.
Or to have it described by the Guardian:
Heather Nauert, a state department spokeswoman, said the US had fully carried out Moscow’s demands to cut its staff in Russia from 1,200 to 455, to make it the same size as the Russian mission in the US. The deadline for the staff reduction was 1 September. But Nauert also announced that the US was striking back for what she said was an “unwarranted and detrimental” move by the Kremlin.
“In the spirit of parity invoked by the Russians,” Nauert said in a statement, “we are requiring the Russian government to close its consulate general in San Francisco, a chancery annexe in Washington DC, and a consular annexe in New York City. These closures will need to be accomplished by 2 September.
“With this action both countries will remain with three consulates each. While there will continue to be a disparity in the number of diplomatic and consular annexes, we have chosen to allow the Russian government to maintain some of its annexes in an effort to arrest the downward spiral in our relationship.”
Nauert said the US hoped that “having moved toward the Russian federation’s desire for parity, we can avoid further retaliatory actions by both sides and move forward to achieve the stated goal of both of our presidents”.
The buildings to be shuttered by Saturday are the consulate general and official residence in San Francisco and trade mission offices in New York and Washington.
“The buildings that are owned by the Russians will continue to be owned by the Russians,” a senior administration official said. “Then it will be up to them to determine whether they wish to sell those or dispose of them in some other way.
“We are not expelling any Russians at this time. We have informed the Russians they may reassigned to other diplomatic or consular posts in the US if they chose to.”
UPDATE: Whoah…. Facing short notice of their eviction, Russian “totally not spies” burned evidence to prevent it from falling into U.S. hands.
— Justin Sullivan (@sullyfoto) September 1, 2017