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The government of President Putin retains its long term control of Russia. It is true that real GDP has been declining over the past three years, falling to 12th place in the world, but Russia’s influence over other countries is still enormous.

Trump’s support rating in Russia today is the highest anywhere in the world. Putin’s supporting rating is over 80%, but Trump’s is probably close to 100%. Ever since the election battle, Trump has been proclaiming “reconciliation with Russia,” and so Russians anticipate that he will lift the sanctions.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, has also stated that “President Trump’s enthusiasm towards Russia gives cause for hope,” while director Oliver Stone, fiercely critical of Trump during the election period, has expressed approval of his policy towards Russia in recent interviews.

The Trump administration’s Russia policy has been making gradual course corrections. President Trump has declared that the Crimean Peninsula should be returned to Ukraine, while Secretary of State Tillerson, said to be friendly towards Russia, warned Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to observe the ceasefire in Ukraine, and did not mention the word “Russia” during his first speech to Congress on February 28th.

However, in view of Russian influence, improved relations with Russia are an absolute necessity. Think back to the former Cold War. Many people lost their lives in the direct American interventions in conflicts caused by the Cold War, such as the Vietnam War or Korean War, or in the invasion of Afghanistan, which America supported indirectly. One aspect of the situation may be the assistance which Russia can give in allowing America to take a more resolute stance towards some of the Middle Eastern states, such as Iran, and China, seen as problems by the Trump administration. A second Cold War must be avoided.

When speaking of the Cold War, there are those who say, “Russia is not a superpower on the scale of the Soviet Union, and so things will not lead to the Cold War; or if they do, it will be one with China.” However, China does not have good relations with many countries in the way that the former Soviet Union did, being more or less isolated and friendless, and so such a conflict could probably not be called a Cold War.