Trump’s Russia problem, with Ambassador Kurt Volker

ONE ADMINISTRATION, TWO RUSSIAS: This week’s Global POLITICO looks at the essential schizophrenia of President Trump’s Russia policy: the more or less perfectly predictable mainstream version pursued by his advisers – and that of Trump himself. Our guest for the podcast is Ambassador Kurt Volker, an unlikely Trumpite who has been the Trump administration’s special envoy dealing with the conflict in Ukraine since this summer. In his first extensive interview, Volker talked about just how troubled relations are with Russia these days despite Trump’s hoped-for reconciliation, how the several rounds of talks he’s held with a top Putin adviser have not yet made any progress, and what it’s like to be a special envoy for a secretary of state who’s vowed to get rid of them. You can read it here: http://politi.co/2BmvTut. And listen here: http://bit.ly/2AATjPM.

THE TRUMP-PUTIN BACKSTORY: Reminders that Volker’s Russia policy is not exactly Trump’s come just about every day. Just a few hours before my interview with Volker, in fact, Trump had made a point of calling Putin, and the official readout of their more than hour-long conversation portrayed it as a wide-ranging discussion of Syria, Ukraine, North Korea, ISIS, the Middle East and Central Asia. The decision to speak with Putin drew literal groans from some administration Russia hands, given that it came the day after Putin had been photographed physically embracing the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad during a meeting in Sochi, and Trump’s statement about the phone call made no mention of any criticism toward Putin’s backing of the Syrian regime or his recent decision to veto a U.N. investigation of the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons…http://politi.co/2BmvTut

RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA: The Global Politico has spent a fair amount of time this year on Washington’s current Russia obsession, from looking inside the unfolding Russiagate investigation to what’s actually happening in Moscow these days.

A few of our episodes you might want to go back to:

1. The myth about the great and horrible Putin, with leading Russian dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky and historian Anne Applebaum: http://bit.ly/2Bp4esW

2. The new Cold War? With Angela Stent, former top US national intelligence officer for Russia, and Dan Yergin, the Pulitzer-winning energy historian: http://bit.ly/2j04fOW

3. And from the time machine: an early interview with Congressman Adam Schiff, who’s becoming a leading public figure pressing for answers on Trump and Russia: http://bit.ly/2jsaND4

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