“The opportunity that [President-elect Donald] Trump opens to us is turning over a new leaf in relations with Russia,” Brenton said, adding that the incoming US president is quite enthusiastic about restoring relations with Russia and would likely pursue at least some initiatives in this direction.
The former diplomat also stressed that such improvement of relations is badly needed as Russia and the West are “heading down to the blind alley at the moment” and their relations “are unnecessarily bad.”
In his article published by the Telegraph on Monday, Brenton drew attention to the fact that the current Western policy towards Russia has led to nothing but further confrontation and worsening of relations.
“Our present approach has failed (sanctions have boosted Russian determination), and if we are to avoid slipping into a dangerous new Cold War, we need to listen to the Russians instead of lecturing them,” he wrote.
However, Trump’s electoral victory gave hope for the potential improvement of these relationships, as before the elections, “Russians really feared the [victory] of Hillary Clinton, who was even more deeply anti-Russian than [the acting US President Barack] Obama,” Brenton told RT.
He went on to say that the US and Russia have a real chance of finding a common ground in such fields as combating international terrorism.
“I very much hope that the very early item on agenda between the incoming Trump administration and Russian administration will be finding ways on working together on that,” Brenton said, referring to the issue of fighting Islamic State terrorists in Syria and Iraq.
However, the former UK ambassador to Moscow also said that “in Washington, there is quite a lot of doubt about how far he will be able to go” in improving relations with Russia and emphasized that it just equally depends on Russia.
Brenton called for caution in making forecasts by saying that Trump’s decisions are still interim ones and not the final ones, so everybody has to see “how relations will evolve when Trump [enters] office.”
At the same time, Brenton criticized Trump’s approach toward NATO and said that the Alliance’s “unity” still plays an important role in dealing particularly with Russia.
“NATO solidarity is absolutely crucial” in the face of “new active and troublesome Russia,” he said, criticizing Trump for the statement in which he said that the US may consider dropping out of the alliance because European members of NATO were not pulling their weight.
Brenton called such an approach “mistaken” and emphasized that US “security is not just about America but it is also about American key allies.” Instead of planning to drop out of NATO, Trump should “encourage the NATO states to spend more on defense,” Brenton said, adding that the UK would “certainly” help the Trump administration in such efforts.