Exclusive interview of the Valery Kavaleuski, Senior analyst of Belarusian Institute of America ( USA)
How can You assess the latest SCO summit for the USA?
The summit highlighted a growing divergence of the United States from mainstream international affairs, conducted in mostly traditional ways. While the U.S. administration is ramping up isolationist trade policies, SCO member states release a dedicated statement on simplifying international trade procedures. While U.S. recalls signature from joint G-7 statement, SCO speaks of the need to join efforts in resolving common matters. Appears that SCO led by China steadily moves to fill the growing void the United States is leaving. Summarizing, SCO and G-7 summits demonstrated opposite trends, one of consolidation and advancement, the other of crisis and retreat. As a result, the United States risks facing a shrinking space for diplomacy and foreign policy.
What can be expected from the oncoming NATO Summit in Brussels?
G-7 summit could offer some hints on what should be expected of the NATO summit. U.S. president Trump is increasing his assertiveness and even boldness in breaking away from major traditional allies. His idea about closer engagement with Russia and opinion on the jurisdiction of Crimea, both expressed in Quebec, can be further elaborated, this time within NATO confines. The uncertainty of further outlook of U.S. towards NATO is growing given recent reports that Trump is not seeking advice from secretary of defence James Mattis, who could be seen as a guarantor of continuity of U.S. relations with military allies. Trump rarely backtracks from his ideas, normally he doubles down to prove the point, even his expressiveness compensates the lack of arguments and facts.
Which position of USA in the projects of energy transit and security in Europe and Central Asia?
The U.S. has been a staunch opponent to the Nord Stream 2 project. While citing energy independence of Ukraine as a transit country for Russian gas, U.S. is also asserting that it is a much more reliable, convenient and politically neutral supplier of energy resources. In fact, media reports that U.S. has mentioned abandoning Nord Stream 2 as a condition for talks in trade pact between U.S. and EU.
The U.S. position on similar projects in Central Asia is less pronounced and not too visible. Specifically, China’s Belt and Road initiative has not received much attention from Washington, perhaps due to its relative remoteness from sea trade routes which the U.S. always watches closely. In addition, Washington’s leverage in Central Asia counties is way more limited and cannot match the efforts China constantly demonstrates in this region.