While much of the early enthusiasm surrounding Trump has faded, Moscow still maintains some optimism about possible cooperation. Pushkov says that there is clear common ground between the United States and Russia, especially as far as the fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups is concerned. He even raises the prospect of a “mutual position on North Korea,” though he argues that Russia would like to see a greater commitment to a diplomatic resolution from the United States on this issue. Likewise, Sushentsov pointed to the fact that Trump seems “personally invested in success of talks” with Putin as a good sign for the future.
How much longer these remaining positive feelings will last is far from certain. Trump’s first six months in office show that changing the course of U.S.-Russian relations is a more titanic task than he seems to have imagined. Facing domestic pressure on one hand, and growing dissatisfaction from Moscow on the other, Trump is forced to navigate tumultuous waters. Finding a solution that will mollify the public’s and Capitol Hill’s concerns about his closeness to Russia while simultaneously making inroads with the Kremlin seems like an insurmountable challenge. Then again, few expected the billionaire and reality TV star to become the Republican nominee, let alone win the White House. Perhaps Trump will once again find a way to surprise the world, but the odds, at least unless and until the president finds a way to deal effectively with the Russia collusion investigation, are clearly against him.
Dimitri Alexander Simes is a reporter-intern at the National Interest.