The situation shows that in the face of the two biggest political incidents that have plagued Russia over the years, the Trump administration has returned to a familiar pattern: American diplomats are adopting a hawkish response, even though Trump has made it clear that it is more friendly to Moscow Information. As a result, the president lacks leadership and gives different information to allies and opponents.
“This is the story of the Trump administration,” said Angela Stant, a Russian scholar at Georgetown University. “We have a bifurcated Russia policy. The president obviously has an agenda to improve relations with Moscow, but he failed to implement it because it is a politically sensitive topic. Then, the US State Department and the Department of Defense will formulate more stringent and consistent policies. .”
Stant said that in recent weeks, people have had the same reaction to the Belarusian uprising and the Navalny poisoning incident. Stent said: “The president will not say whether Navani is poisoned. In Belarus, he will not say anything to criticize Putin.” “He is ready to criticize Germany or [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel who wants to import Russian gas instead of Putin. “
The US government has listed the second official, Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun (Stephen Biegun) as an important figure in the State Department. In recent weeks, he has met with Moscow and European officials and members of the Belarusian opposition in crisis diplomacy.
Biegun was a lobbyist for Ford Motor Company and a senior aide to the Republican Party on Capitol Hill. Biegun won praise from the Democrats and Republicans for his hawkish stance on the Kremlin in this position.
On September 11, Biegun criticized the Russian government for failing to conduct a thorough investigation of the use of banned nerve agents against Russian citizens on his territory.
Bigon said: “We can’t believe this will happen on the territory of any country, and the government will not take appropriate emergency measures to investigate and hold criminals accountable.”
The Russian government rejected allegations that the Kremlin was involved in poisoning.
Last weekend, in Belarus, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets for the sixth consecutive week to protest the August 9 presidential election, which they believed was caused by the former Soviet collective farm owner Alexander Lukashenko (Alexander Lukashenko) Manipulative, he has ruled the country for 26 years. . The protesters argued that winning in a flawed election was Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the wife of an arrested opposition figure, who should become the next president.
In Europe, Begaon met with Tikhanovskaya, who fled to neighboring Lithuania under pressure from the Belarusian authorities after the election. Begon promised to impose new sanctions on the demonstrators’ human rights violations and to impose new sanctions on Belarusian officials, but he said that the leadership of the country is determined by the people of Belarus.
The people of Belarus have the right to hold free and fair elections. They elect their leaders. On August 9, they were denied this opportunity. The August 9 elections did not confer legitimacy on the rulers of Belarus,” Biegun said in a conference call last week. He urged the Belarusian authorities to negotiate with the opposition and hold new elections under independent observation.
Behind the scenes, Biegun and other senior State Department officials have urged European allies to condemn the attacks on Navani and Lukashenko.
At the beginning of this month, NATO’s main decision-making bodies condemned Navalny’s poisoning with “the strictest conditions” for using “the banned Norwich Group nerve agent”.
Diplomats familiar with internal deliberations say that some countries in the 30-member coalition oppose the statement, while some countries, including France, seek softer language, but according to diplomats discussed within the United States, the United States urges members Approve stronger wording.
The diplomat said that US officials have also maintained a strong stance with Moscow on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSDO), which is a multilateral organization that Russia has joined.
A European diplomat said: “Begong is really a godsend.” He spoke anonymously to discuss diplomatic dialogue. “Although you usually want to see the firm position of the President of the United States, no one imagines that Trump will be a messenger, so we are satisfied with Biegan.”
But Biegun’s diplomacy has cast a shadow over Trump’s complex messages and relative silence.
Trump said little about the protests in Belarus. He pointed out that he “likes to see democracy” and that “there does not seem to be too much democracy”, and separately described the situation as “terrible”.
Two days after Merkel presented her so-called “clear evidence,” Trump said that Navalny was poisoned by chemicals similar to the Soviet-era nerve agent Novachok, which may imply the Russian government’s guilt. Trump said he I don’t know what happened to the Russian opposition figures.
Trump said on September 4: “I don’t know what happened. I think this is-it’s tragic. It is terrible. This shouldn’t happen. We don’t have any evidence yet, but let me take a look. “
Approximately 26 days since the poisoning incident, the United States has not issued any official government assessment report. According to publicly public telephone records, Trump has not filed a lawsuit with Putin. On Tuesday, Navalny posted a photo of himself in a German hospital and said he could breathe on his own after a few weeks on a ventilator.
“Biegen made me stop. He saw the people I met. He achieved all his goals.” said Daniel Fried, a former senior US diplomat, who is now a member of the Atlantic Council. “The question is, if you are listening to him, you are a European diplomat. … Is this guy speaking for the government, or for the part of the government other than Donald Trump?”
Critics say Trump made a confusing statement about the priorities of the United States after Navalny was poisoned, pointing out that he was unwilling to condemn the incident as a chemical weapons poisoning that may involve the Russian state. Trump told reporters at the White House on September 4, “We are now negotiating a nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which is very important.”
Trump said of the meeting: “This is a very important thing.” “For me, this is the most important thing.”
He asked reporters why they didn’t ask him more questions about China.
Begon later clarified that the United States could enter into nuclear negotiations with Russia to expand and expand the new “START Treaty” agreement and also deal with issues related to Belarus and Navani.
He concluded by saying: “In terms of election theft and brutal violence in Belarus, or the tragic poisoning of Alexei Navani, no one of us compares our position with any other parties, new START, negotiations or Everything else is tied together,” he said at last. week.
When asked about the Navalny poisoning incident, Trump quickly pointed out that he had a good relationship with Putin, even if his government took tough measures against Russia.
Trump briefly used questions about Navalny to criticize Germany for continuing with Nord Stream 2, a pipeline designed to transport Russian natural gas to Europe opposed by the Trump administration.
Andrew S. Weiss, vice president of research at the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace, said that former senior Russian officials in the Clinton administration had stated that the Obama administration had a Russian policy only with the support of the president.
“apart from [Trump] Willing to disclose his name. “In theory, the United States should shape the West’s policy toward Russia. As the election approaches, what we see is that the United States does not have an effective policy towards Russia, let alone can assemble other people who support us.
Anne Gearan contributed to this report.