The following is our translation of an op-ed from mainnews.ru.
“After Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election in November 2016, many experts cherished hopes for an early bilateral "thaw" and the end of the conflict in Ukraine with more or less favourable results for Russia. Another round of the massacre, in which people are still dying and infrastructure is being destroyed, eloquently tells us that some were clearly too quick to cheer the arrival of the eccentric Republican in the White House.”
Jumping the rails: Trump raises his hand against Putin
The situation in the world continues to grow hotter. The fierce fighting in Donbas, an extremely tense situation in south-western Syria - all this threatens a new escalation in relations between Russia and the United States.
Washington occasionally issues virtual ultimatums to Moscow, demanding a review of its foreign policy. The chances for a warming of relations between the two countries with the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House are rapidly melting away. The American leader raised his hand again, threatening a new blow to Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. Whether it is inflicted will become clear in the near future.
The last couple of weeks the messages from Donbas again acquired the character of full-fledged military reports. The shooting, attacks, occupation of settlements - all this testifies to the next serious military crisis in the region, and therefore, to a complete failure of the notorious Minsk agreements. After Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election in November 2016, many experts cherished hopes for an early two-sided "thaw" and the end of the conflict in Ukraine with more or less favourable results for Russia. Another round of the massacre, in which people are still dying and infrastructure is being destroyed, eloquently tells us that some were clearly too quick to cheer the arrival of the eccentric Republican in the White House.
Now after one and a half years of Trump's tenure as head of state, it is safe to say that those who operated on such assessments seriously miscalculated. Well, at least, they conducted an inadequate analysis of the situation. A clear marker that allows one to judge the commitment of the Republican administration to escalating with Russia is the supply of Javelin missile anti-tank complexes to Ukraine. The fact that they are already in Independent Ukraine [this is intended sarcastically since Ukraine is hardly independent now that the US has meddled there—NSS] was reported by local media at the end of April. The conflict in Donbas arose at the outset from internal contradictions and became the fault line of the rift in relations between Russia and the United States. The administration of former President Barack Obama unconditionally supported the current Ukrainian leadership. A small hitch occurred during the change of power in the White House. Some seriously predicted that the days of the Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko are numbered: they said the new American leader will reconsider his attitude towards Kiev and will stop supporting him to the same extent.
Soon after this, another round of military confrontations began. The main arena of combat clashes was the Gorlovka district, which is located to the north-east of Donetsk. The Ukrainian media, citing a high-ranking source in the armed forces of the country, said that the army intends to occupy the heights dominating the city and gain a foothold on them, making defence of the settlement pointless.
To this end, the Ukrainian troops seriously increased their reserves in the direction of the strike and in the first half of May began to test the defences of the divisions of the self-proclaimed Donetsk republic. The main goal of the Ukrainian armed forces is to occupy the city and create a springboard for attacks on Debaltsevo and Enakievo. If this is successful, the situation in Donetsk will be greatly complicated. Further strikes by Ukrainian forces from Gorlovka south-east towards Shakhtersk, supported by an attack from the western direction along the Dokuchaevsk-Starobeshevo-Amvrosievka line, could lead to a complete encirclement of the capital of the Donetsk republic, destruction of the armed forces of the DNR in the cauldron and capture of the city that four years was one of the symbols of the resistance of the Donbas people to Ukrainian aggression.
Kiev's actions are fully supported by Washington. Trump's special representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, the other day again put the responsibility on what is happening on Moscow. "Russia must make a fundamental decision to establish peace in the east of Ukraine, to withdraw its troops and allow the peacekeeping force with the UN mandate to replace them," he said. At the same time, everyone knows that we do not have armed forces in the Donbas, as confirmed by the International Court of Justice last July, rejecting the Ukrainian party's claim to recognize Russia as an aggressor.
But the American leader does not care. The tactics of dashing "cowboy swag," which he displays (remember the crisis around the DPRK in April last year), is designed to intimidate the opponent into further accepting the conditions put forward by the White House. In addition, in a few weeks, the World Cup starts. Under such conditions armed conflict is absolutely the last thing Russia needs, so Trump is clearly hoping to pressure Putin at this "delicate" moment.
And to make the attack more effective, Syria must be added on top of Ukraine. The situation there is developing favourably for Moscow as a whole. The army of the Arab Republic, with the help of our military advisers and aerospace forces, cleaned up the terrorist enclaves around Damascus - Yarmouk and East Ghouta - that existed for many years and also forced the so-called Rastan cauldron, which blocked one of the country’s main transport highways, to surrender.
Next in line is one of the last strongholds of militants is the south-western province of Daraa. The Syrian army has already begun to transfer to that province units that have been freed up following the storming of Yarmouk, including the elite Tiger Force unit. The military has already thrown down leaflets to the militants with an appeal to lay down their arms. But the terrorists are not willing to do so.
And it is understandable why. The other day, US State Department spokesman Heather Nauert said the US will take "decisive action" in response to the activity of Syrian military and Russian advisors supporting them in the province of Daraa. In parallel, in this province there is an accumulation of forces of the so-called Syrian Free Army militants, to which the United States supply arms and ammunition through its channels in neighbouring Jordan.
In the event of an attempt to clean out this terrorist rat-hole, militants can undertake a large-scale attack on the government army. Against this background, the news in the media in April of this year is very interesting, namely, the so-called "moderate opposition," supported by the United States, plans to create some kind of "autonomous state" in the south-west of Syria.
Will there be a new escalation? All the facts indicate that the Americans will continue to raise the stakes in the geopolitical confrontation with Moscow. However, over the past four years, Russia has clearly demonstrated that it is firmly committed to protecting national interests in both Ukraine and Syria. And dashing "cowboy swag" does not intimidate it. In any case, the summer of 2018 will not be boring.
[While negotiations are still ongoing, the threat to Syrian troops in the southwest may have passed thanks to an agreement reached between Russia and US and allies: https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5276197,00.html]