Russian President Vladimir Putin made an effort to suck up to President Donald Trump, according to a Russian proposal obtained by BuzzFeed.
According to the report, Moscow hatched a plan to stage their own version of a “reset” with Trump in the wake of his election as news spread they were involved in the hacking of the election. One thing the Kremlin assumed, Trump likely wouldn’t share the anger many in the U.S. felt over the 2016 hacks.
“This document represents nothing less than a road map for full-scale normalization of US-Russian relations,” said Andrew Weiss, from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
A former national intelligence officer on Russia during George W. Bush’s administration also reviewed the documents and found them shocking.
“It just ignores everything that caused the relationship to deteriorate and pretends that the election interference and the Ukraine crisis never happened,” said Angela Stent.
While the Russian Embassy in Washington refused to comment, the White House and State Department didn’t dispute the authenticity of the document.
Here are some of the things the Kremlin tried with Trump and his team.
1. Dispatch every Russian government big-wig.
By the time Putin met with Trump for the first time, every head of the CIA, FBI, the National Security Council and the Pentagon met with their Russian counterparts. Every “channel” that had been closed since President Barack Obama’s “reset” in his first term was suddenly available.
Though many meetings have taken place, little, if anything, has come from it. The timeline set up in the secret memo has dates that have come and gone with nothing to show for it.
2. Open all channels previously closed to between the two countries.
Just three months after Trump’s inauguration, Putin told diplomats he wanted to restore the diplomatic relations as well as military and intelligence channels with the United States. The channels were previously severed after Russia invaded Ukraine and Syria.
3. Dispatch Russian cyber officials to talk to the U.S.
In April, Andrey Krutskikh was sent to meet with his American counterpart on “information security,” according to the documents. By May, the U.S. and Russia were talking about working together on the war in Afghanistan, the Iran nuclear deal, Ukraine as well as North Korea.
They hoped to reignite the bilateral working groups that were dealing with cyber security and counterterrorism. The collaboration was part of Obama’s “reset,” but given the intelligence agencies in agreement that Russia utilized cyber to steal information and manipulate the 2016 electorate and used it as an instrument to overthrow Ukraine that’s not likely to happen either.
The talks previously were blocked by infighting because Russia maintained it had the right to control information. That’s a non-starter with the U.S.
4. Russia completely disregarded Trump’s political problems with Russia.
According to BuzzFeed, the Kremlin seemed to be completely ignorant of the political perception of Trump working with Russia. They “underestimated the political blowback” Trump would get from Americans suspicious of why everyone in his administration seemed to be meeting with Russia.
“Putin doesn’t seem to understand that Trump’s powers are not the same as his,” said Russia expert Steven Pifer, of the Brookings Institution. “The checks and balances, the special prosecutor and congressional investigations have tied Trump’s hands in ways that didn’t occur to Putin.”
5. Promote trade and investment between the two countries.
BuzzFeed cited one hope of “resuming and promoting mutually beneficial trade and investment cooperation.” Any possibility of doing business with Russia has now been turned over to Congress, thanks to the bill limiting Trump’s sanctions control. So, if the White House wants to lessen the severity, not only will the Kremlin be forced to wine and dine Trump, they’ll have to do so to the Congressional leadership for their approval.
6. Russia assumed Trump would do what he promised during the 2016 campaign.
One major flaw of the Kremlin was one Trump’s own supporters also have. Whatever he promised is not necessarily what he’ll be willing or able to provide.
“When the Russians submitted this proposal, they were under the impression that Trump would do what he said he would do: Make a deal with Putin and normalize relations,” Stent explained.
“That’s a reflection of the way their own system works,” she continued. “If Putin wants something done, the Duma is compliant, the Ministry of Defense is compliant. But in the US, a lot of these things aren’t in the purview of the White House even if you have a president who is inclined.”
Ultimately, Moscow has been met with disappointments, but they haven’t given up, even in the wake of Congress taking away Trump’s sanctions power or after the expulsion of more Russian diplomats.
“We have always been interested in constructive interaction with Washington on the entire bilateral and international agenda,” said New Russian Ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antanov.
An anonymous State Department official said that they have informed Moscow that all paths to “normalization” go through Ukraine.
Defense Secretary James Mattis seemed to agree. “We are not in a position right now to collaborate on a military level,” he told reporters in February.