Michael Flynn, President Trump’s National Security Advisor, resigned last night. He had been under fire amid accusations that he had not been fully truthful with the Trump administration concerning the content of his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Absent a resignation, it was expected that he would have been dismissed by the Trump administration.
Now, the Russians have released their own statements concerning Flynn which decry his departure. The Associated Press has a summary, but it is more interesting to look at Russia’s Pravda.ru online news site in which there is a longer Russian-language article concerning Flynn.
Both the AP and Pravda.ru quote Konstantin Kosachev, who is the head of the International Committee of the Federation Council of Russia (the Federation Council is the upper house of Russia’s parliament). Thus, he is a fairly high-level official as well as the recipient of numerous awards from the Russian state. Of Flynn’s departure, he said:
Either Trump hasn’t found the necessary independence and he’s been driven into a corner… or Russophobia has permeated the new administration from top to bottom.
Kosachev also sought to point out the apparent oddity of dismissing an American official for communicating with the Russian ambassador, saying:
[to] expel the National Security Adviser for contacts with the Russian ambassador (which is the usual diplomatic practice) – it’s not even paranoid, but something infinitely worse.
The Pravda.ru article also contains an analysis by Edward Lozansky who is president of the American University in Moscow and opines on US-Russian relations. He is quoted as saying, “This is certainly a great loss for the future of relations between Russia and the United States.”
The fact that the Russians had latched onto Flynn so tightly is odd and will only lend strength to suspicions that he was somehow compromised by them. It is not as if the Trump administration’s policy towards Russia will suddenly change with Flynn’s departure. It is therefore not clear why the replacement of the National Security Advisor should be a setback for relations between the two countries, as is assumed by many of today’s articles and by the Russians themselves.
The Russians, for their part, are now pinning their hopes on the planned Trump-Putin summit sometime this summer. According to Lozansky, this summit will be just the first step. The Russians also want Trump and Putin to later meet with the Chinese president Jinping to engage in a trilateral US-Russian-Chinese summit to discuss issues which affect all three countries.