WASHINGTON, December 9. /TASS/. US president-elect Donald Trump and his team are poised to build a more friendly dialogue between Moscow and Washington, said Ret. Adm. James Stavridis, who is reported to be among contenders to the post of the US Secretary of State.
"From all I can see, the new Administration is sincere about opening discussions that could lead to more congenial relations," Stavridis, the dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University, told TASS, commenting on the possible development of ties between Moscow and Washington when the new US president takes office.
"I believe there is room for a shared effort to solve the challenges of Syria, for example, at least in a humanitarian stance. We may be able to cooperate on counter-narcotics, counter-piracy, the Arctic, arms control, and other specific issues," he continued.
However, the expert added that Russian-US relations are marred by serious disagreements that are not easy to overcome.
"Obviously we have a significant disagreement over Ukraine and Crimea, but with the Minsk agreement as a blueprint, we may be able to improve the situation there as well," he said. "So there are both disagreements but potential areas of agreement going forward."
Stavridis said that Moscow and Washington also needed to hold "a discussion about appropriate cyber activities."
At the same time, Michael O'Hanlon, a senior defense and foreign affairs expert at the Brookings Institution, told TASS that he does not expect "a rapid normalization of ties," although "some lessening of immediate tensions" was possible.
"I believe that there will be flexibility for a new approach on Syria," he said.
O'Hanlon, who co-directs the Center on 21st Century Security and Intelligence, believes that after becoming the president, Trump would "try to an extent" to fulfill his election promise to mend ties with Russia, "and that’s not all bad."
"Very few here agree with Trump’s view on Russia, even if many of us would like to see a less contentious relationship. I wish him well, but it will be hard," O'Hanlon said, when asked to comment on whether the Congress and the Republican establishment will support a possible move toward better ties.
Among the "core structural challenges" that exist between Moscow and Washington, O’Hanlon named "the war in Ukraine, the prospect of future NATO enlargement," as well as Moscow’s stance on the Western model of democracy.
In his turn, a former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Philip Gordon, said in a recently published article that Trump is likely to lift the sanctions, imposed on Russia by outgoing US President Barack Obama and his administration.
"In Syria, I suspect he will end US support for the anti-Assad opposition and unabashedly align the United States with Russia and the Assad regime in their efforts to "fight terrorists" as they define them," Gordon wrote in a Politico article.
"In Europe he will look to accommodate Russian interests by backing away from NATO enlargement and missile defense, accepting the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s presence in eastern Ukraine, and lifting sanctions on Moscow," he continued.