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Intriguing: What Trump’s Advisor May Have Been Discussing in Moscow

"At the height of a presidential election campaign, these visits are not accidental"

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Famous economist, media personality and ex-Government official, Mikhail Delyagin, is grilled by a leading Russian conspiracy theorist.

A possible Donald Trump Foreign Policy Advisor, Carter Page spent a few days in Moscow, officially to participate in the graduation ceremony of the Russian School of Economics on July 7. The honored overseas guest gave a lecture to a hundred newly qualified masters and bachelors graduates: “How to increase potential in unstable times”. He underlined that he was in Russia as a private person, which was why he wouldn’t talk politics or answer questions about which Russian officials he met during his visit.

<figcaption>Trump advisor Carter Page</figcaption>
Trump advisor Carter Page

“At the height of a presidential election campaign,these visits are not accidental,” - Director of the Institute for Globalization Problems Mikhail Delyagin says. “They can also be about policy. Of course, the temptation is irresistible for American elites to give a lecture to a Russian liberal higher educational institution; however in this case, it is a cover for negotiations on relations between our countries after the probable victory of Trump.”

Of course, these talks can only be preliminary, but they are necessary: no responsible politician – neither Putin, nor Trump – needs surprises in a modern world that is changing rapidly and chaotically.

Y. Ch. The Russian Economic School traditionally invites famous politicians and economists to lecture at its graduation ceremony. Previously, Barack Obama, Polish Prime Minister Leszek Balcerowicz, the governor of the Bank of Israel and former Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Stanley Fischer, former President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo spoke there. How does this "famous economist" Carter Page stack up among them? Honestly, I had never heard of him.

M.D. Trump would look more credible among political personalities after his victory. His advisor, no matter how high-powered and respected he is, looks out of place compared to government officials, confirming the suspicion that the invitation is a cover for non-public but essential talks for both parties.

Y.Ch. In the event that Trump wins, Page could become the new US Secretary of State, or Minister of Foreign Affairs, as we call it here. Who is he? Why has Trump chosen him to be his Foreign Policy Advisor?

M.D. I wouldn’t be so certain of that. The Secretary of the State can emerge as a result of political combinations. It’s not necessary that a candidate’s Foreign Policy Advisor will hold this post. And the fact that Page was a Gazprom advisor can prevent a political career in the US, even if Trump wins.  

Y.Ch. A Gazprom advisor?

M.D. Right. In 2000, when Page was an investor at the London office of Merrill Lynch, he worked with Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk. Impressed, in 2004 his office sent him to open a branch in the new markets hub – Moscow.

Page had good relationships with the leaders of Gazprom (liberalization of shares), advising on large deals to buy shares in oil and gas fields in Sakhalin and the Sea of Okhotsk, participating in shareholder meetings in London and New York, becoming a key investment banker in Russia and parts of the government connected to this activity. In 2007, when Page returned to New York, many officials came to his farewell party in Moscow.

Experts praise Page, liberal moralizers excoriate him. One of the former directors of the Moscow office, Bernard Sacher underlined his ‘keen understanding of correlation between policy and energy’. Another director, Aleksashenko, called him ‘a would-be banker with a superficial understanding of the country’. Russia could hardly recover from the "professionalism" of Aleksashenko, who was Deputy Vice President of the Central Bank during the catastrophe that resulted in the 1998 default, for many years. In 2008 Page founded his own company and began advising foreign investors on buying assets, mostly in Russia, and Russian investors overseas.

Western sanctions against Russia destroyed several of Page’s projects, and he was against them, even after joining Trump’s team. Of course, this is only from the business point of view, since "trade restrictions negatively affect markets".

Y.Ch. You mean: "nothing personal, just business"?

M.D. Page stands for better cooperation with Russia, emphasizing that he does it for ideological but not commercial reasons.    

The Deputy Director of Gazprom’s Financial and Economic Department, Yatsenko, who worked with him, emphasized: “He understands what is going on in Russia, and doesn’t jump to conclusions.” Even if it’s an exaggeration, Page is the first high-ranking American politician of whom we can say something like that since US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbot in the 1990’s. I believe that understanding Russia doesn’t make American experts our friends, or even acceptable partners, but it does prevent them from taking reckless steps dangerous for both countries, and for the world as well.

Y.Ch. How do you evaluate Trump’s and Clinton’s chances? Who would be better for Russia?

M.D. Currently, Clinton’s chances are better. But there can be a lot of surprises, especially in terms of a global crisis. Political struggle in the current unstable social and economic environment usually leads to qualitative change, which is extremely hard to forecast.

As for a preferred scenario, not only our country, but the rest of the world, needs Trump as the US president.

Brzezinski, a Pole who lobbied for the creation of a nuclear weapon that would only kill Russians, looks like a role model of good neighborliness and cooperation compared to Clinton’s Russophobia, which will guarantee aggressive efforts by her global clan toward Russia. Clinton, who cackled with delight during a discussion of Muammar Gaddafi’s death, could unleash a third world war, a global catastrophe.

Trump, a US patriot, will sacrifice the architecture of global markets to solve the problems of his own country, for example, by restructuring the national debt, i.e. a virtual default. He has already mentioned this.

Trump would be an extremely uncomfortable partner for Russia, notwithstanding public pleasantries and backstage visits. He will likely want to repeat the success of George H. W. Bush, who squeezed huge concessions out of our country, such as closing the super-effective Krasnoyarsk Radar Station. However, but he will be a partner, not a maniac. Under him, US aggression will be tempered by the instinct of self-preservation. compared to Clinton.

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