Whip or cookies: What is Nuland really bringing to Russia

Peter Akopov

US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria N-uland’s visit to Mo-scow is attracting increas-ed attention – clearly inadequate to his diplomatic level. Just a few days ago, the Russian-American consultations on strategic stability (for the second in two months) were held in Geneva, at which the US delegation was led by First Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. And nobody, except for specialists in relations between the two countries, was not interested in them.

Of course, Victoria Nuland herself has long become in Russia the main symbol of American control over Ukraine – they always remember her visit to the Maidan with the distribution of cookies. Then she was assistant secretary of state – and after the overthrow of Yanukovych, she several times participated in Russian-American negotiations on Ukraine, including visiting Moscow. After Trump came to power, Nuland lost her post, but Biden, who took the White House, returned her to the State Department, and with a promotion: now she is the Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

Nuland was part of the US delegation at the June summit of Putin and Biden, but even before that it was clear that she would be responsible for the Russian direction in the American administration. Because of the entire Biden team, he knows Russia best of all – in total, she lived with us for about three years, from working on a Soviet fishing vessel during Andropov’s time and ending with serving at the embassy in the early 90s.

In addition to her, in the Biden administration, only William Burns can boast of knowledge of Russian and a long stay in Russia – but the former ambassador to Moscow is now the director of the CIA, that is, he is not very suitable for negotiations. Unlike Nuland, for whom contacts with Russians again became the main professional duty.

But here’s the bad luck: since 2019, Victoria has been banned from entering Russia – in response to another expansion of American lists with the names of our officials. Washington has long made its own work with Moscow difficult with its sanctions lists. For example, with the secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev, whom they blacklisted, they only have to meet in Europe or Moscow.

The issue of Nuland’s arrival was worked out for several months – Russia was in no hurry to respond to the American request, but in the end agreed to give her an entry visa in exchange for excluding one of the Russian officials from the American list. This gave rise to, among other things, a reaction in the style: “Well, you shouldn’t have let her in – why did we bow down?” But in this case we are talking about bilateral negotiations on a wide range of issues, moreover, on the American initiative, so transferring all Russian-American contacts to neutral territory would be unreasonable and inconvenient for us in the first place.

Arriving in Moscow, Nuland immediately announced that the main goal of her talks would be “stable and predictable relations” between the two countries, that is, she repeated the wording that Biden himself had repeatedly used. Almost four months have passed since the Geneva summit of the two presidents, but there has been no progress towards withdrawing US-Russian relations from the stage of tough confrontation. More precisely, there is only one thing: the parties began to talk to each other. There have been two rounds of consultations bet-ween Ryabkov and Sherm-an, now Nuland is arriving – but what effect will her three-day visit have?

The only practical result may be agreements on softening the “ambassadorial war”, that is, on facilitating the work of the diplomatic missions of the two countries. There are no guarantees that it will be possible to agree on this during Nuland’s visit. But the parties (with the American filing) have already made it so difficult for the embassies and consulates to work that even small indulgences will now look almost like a breakthrough.

Although Nuland’s main talks will take place with Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov, two other meetings will be the main ones – with Putin’s aide Ushakov and deputy head of the presidential administration Kozak. Ushakov Nuland, in fact, will convey a message to Putin from the “collective Biden”. That is, he will discuss with him what the American administration wants to convey to the Kremlin on a variety of issues on the bilateral agenda (and here not only relations between the two countries, but also a variety of regional topics – from the Middle East to the Far East).

However, the most painful topic will be Ukraine, which Nuland will discuss at a meeting with Dmitry Kozak. Painful not only for bilateral relations, but also for the Kiev authorities, which no longer trust their American patrons, even those “hot” like Nuland.

Moreover, on the eve of Nuland’s arrival in Moscow, Dmitry Medvedev’s article dedicated to the Ukrainian leadership appeared in the Russian press – in which Putin’s deputy on the Security Council clearly stated that any negotiations with dependent and non-obligatory Ukrainian leaders, including Zelensky, make no sense:

“It makes no sense for us to do business with vassals. Business must be done with the overlord.”

More than a clear hint that Russia will discuss Ukraine with the Americans. However, in recent years, Moscow has already admitted that it does not consider the Kiev authorities a subject even in bilateral relations.

Indeed, our country is fighting for Ukraine not with the Kiev elite, but with the American, Anglo-Saxon elite. Does this mean that Washington, on some conditions, can surrender Ukraine, abandon it, recognizing the futility of attempts to atlantize it? Of course not – including no “exchanges” are possible, that is, the recognition by the United States of the simple fact that Ukraine is not only in the zone of Russia’s national interests, but is also a part of historical Russia and will inevitably return to an alliance with it.

The States cannot agree to this under any circumstances. They will try to use the Ukrainian card for as long as possible to contain, demonize and weaken Russia. No options for “exchanges” – we give you Ukraine, and you weaken the Russian-Chinese alliance – are impossible. Absolutely impossible for Russia (we will return ours anyway) and practically incredible for the States.

That is, in theory, Wash-ington would be happy to pay Ukraine for the destruction of the Russian-Chinese alliance, but they understand that Russia will not accept such an offer (and if it did, the Americans simply would not believe that Moscow would fulfill its obligations)…

Because by agreeing to such an “exchange”, Russia would shoot itself in the foot – a power that changes its strategic attitudes and interests on a global scale at the request of another country (even if it received a payment from it) ceases to be a subject of global politics. cannot claim to be one of the architects of the new world order. Ukraine is of fundamental importance for Russia, but hoping to return it at such a price, at the cost of betrayal (not even of China, but of its own interests and its own strategy) is senseless and harmful. It will be necessary to return Ukraine on its own – relying, of course, on its people.

And while the time has not yet come for this, everything must be done in order to reduce the influence of her Antlantic patrons on her. It is for this that Moscow needs negotiations with the “overlord” of the Kiev government.

Nuland, as its representative, wants to make sure that Ukraine is still effective in putting pressure on Russia, that the carrot-and-stick method can be applied in the Ukrainian direction with Moscow: first, publicly discussing Ukraine’s admission to NATO, and then promising Moscow behind the scenes – they say, ” worry, we will never admit her to NATO. ” Nuland wants to understand to what extent Moscow can be teased on the Ukrainian front, so as not to risk too much at some point losing such a valuable asset as the “vanguard of the West on the path of Russian expansion.” She will try to grasp the mood of our leadership, to understand the seriousness (“are these Russians going to start a war next spring?”) Of its intentions.

But, trying to probe, to scout out Russian plans, Nuland will not be able to understand the main thing in our attitude to Ukraine: that we treat it the same way as we treat ourselves. And we are not going to either give our own, or fight for him with the same as we – to the delight of our enemies. But we will return ours – no matter how and whoever tries to interfere with us. And if the United States thinks that the Ukrainian topic will help them to occupy a strong position in relations with Russia for a long time to come, they will be deeply disappointed. Even more than Afghan.

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