Ms. Gao: Indeed, resetting U.S.-Russia relations could help the United States in a variety of areas, including Syria, Iran, and North Korea. But looking at it from a different angle, it could also help the U.S. in its trade war with China. Although Russia still poses a threat to the United States, the Chinese regime is a much bigger one. So what exactly is President Trump’s strategy towards Russia and China? And can he accomplish it? I spoke with senior political commentator Wen Zhao about it.
Ms. Gao: What is President Trump’s purpose in restoring relations with Russia? Would it give America any advantage in the trade war?
Mr. Zhao: The Trump administration views China as its primary opponent. Restoring the relationship with Russia would help the U.S. to focus on its main threat. Although it’s still difficult to accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea, from a global strategic perspective, Russia isn’t a real opponent for the U.S. Russia has a population of 146 million, more than twice that of South Korea. Its land area is 170 times that of South Korea’s. However, its economy ranked behind South Korea in 2017. It’s difficult for Russia to make waves. For Russia to become a world power again, it first needs to re-integrate all former Soviet Union countries. This will be difficult to accomplish during Putin’s lifetime. So Russia has a long way to go before it can be considered an equal to the U.S. But Russia is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. To push Russia to Beijing’s side is not a wise strategy. Russia interfered with the U.S. election in 2016. The U.S. won’t let go of that even though Russia would not admit or apologize for it. So during Trump’s first term, restoring the relationship with Russia remains a great challenge.