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Beltway 360 – Biden and Russia: Will Everyone Change So That Everything Stays the Same?

Continuity across presidential administrations is a hallmark of American relations with the outside world. Changes do occur, but more in response to changes abroad than in thinking along the Potomac, which remains remarkably consistent (even obtuse) despite alterations of political control
of the White House. Even Donald Trump was much more radical in rhetoric than in policy. Some of his most striking innovations — leaving the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal — will be reversed by Biden, restoring long-term continuity. One of the most consistent major components
of US foreign engagement in this period is Russia policy, which enjoys a basic unity not only between political parties but also between executive and legislative branches of government. Thus, continuation of an adversarial posture toward Moscow is almost certain from the incoming Biden
Administration, at least at the outset.

Beltway 360 – The Washington Revolving Door Revolves

President-elect Biden is moving fairly slowly to flesh out his upcoming administration. His choices for Secretary of State and National Security Advisor are uncontroversial and indicate that Biden favors familiar and collegial figures rather than a so-called “team of rivals.” As a long-time chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee himself, Biden will be his own foreign minister and will constitute a team of surrogates.

Biden Wins – Now What for Russia?

Joseph Biden is, de facto, President Elect of the United States. Converting that “de facto” status into “de jure” will take time, may be ugly and may even be violent. Still, no recounts or litigation are likely to alter the reality nor slow Biden’s progress to the White House in January.

Beltway 360 – A Long Hot Summer for DC

Much of the legislative season for 2020 in Washington is already gone, with precious little to show for it. The serious political season now begins, with all focus on the November national elections (not just for the presidency, mind you). A pre-election summer in America is always a contentious period, but this year looks to be the most combative — in every sense — since the infamous “long
hot summer” of 1968.

The Coronavirus and Russia sanctions

The coronavirus alters almost everything. That includes the potential for new or enhanced US sanctions on Russia. In practical terms, the Congress simply has more — and more important — issues to fill its time. Still, the Kremlin’s constitutional revisions, oil price war and cyber fiddling provide enough political motivation to keep the question very much alive.

Russia, Sanctions and the American Political Year 2020

In the US Congress, punishing Russia has attained the status of a collective obsession. During the intensely political year 2020 — from the Trump impeachment trial in January through national elections in November — the Congress will seldom, if ever, neglect this theme. The recent sanctions on NordStream2 are a foretaste of what is to come.

Beltway 360 – Political Pragmatism or, Economic Necessity

For most Americans, Ukraine is a faraway country of which they know nothing — except that it now dominates their television screens, newspapers and social media. How did this happen? In fact, Ukraine has been a strong underlying force (and sometimes a corrosive one) in the official life of the United States for over a generation.