John E. Herbst

  • Trump Picks Putin

    US President Donald J. Trump on July 16 appeared to believe Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials over the US intelligence community’s assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 elections, saying he saw “no reason why” Moscow would have acted in that way.

    Speaking at a joint press conference following his first summit with Putin in Helsinki, Trump said: “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today” on meddling.

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  • Trump-Putin Summit: Expect the Unexpected

    Just in the past few months, US President Donald J. Trump has blown up the G7 summit in Canada, berated the United States’ NATO allies, criticized British Prime Minister Theresa May on her handling of Brexit, described Germany as a “captive” of Russia, characterized the European Union as a “foe,” and directed the Pentagon to review the cost of withdrawing US troops from Europe.

    In sharp contrast to remarks directed at US friends and allies, Trump has been reluctant to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin whom he has described as “fine.” Acting against the advice of his advisers, Trump went so far as to congratulate the Russian president on his victory in an election widely viewed as unfair. He even suggested that Russia be invited back to a G8—a grouping Russia was expelled from after it annexed Crimea in 2014. On July 16, Trump will meet Putin in Helsinki for the leaders’ first summit. The rest of the world will be watching anxiously.

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  • Herbst Quoted in TIME on the Trump-Putin Summit


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  • Herbst Joins Bloomberg to Discuss Trump-Putin Summit


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  • Stop Freaking Out. Trump Has Less Power Than Everyone Thinks.

    If one took the punditry seriously, it would be easy to conclude that the Western liberal order is being unmade before our very eyes. Some worried that US President Donald Trump would destroy the North Atlantic Treaty Organization this week. He didn’t. Instead, he reaffirmed his commitment to it.

    Yes, he undermined the credibility of the alliance and potentially created deep rifts among its members. He bashed Germany and told the Europeans and Canada that they need to pony up more dough. He was crass, and the United States’ image abroad took another hit. But NATO still stands.

    Trump’s next big meeting is with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16. The president has an unexplained soft spot for the Russian strongman and wants to mend US-Russian relations badly. After last month’s flop in North Korea, Trump needs a win.  

    On June 29, Trump told reporters that he might recognize Crimea as Russia’s. In 2014, Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, which had been part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic since 1954 and then of an independent and sovereign Ukraine since 1991. The United States has maintained that Crimea belongs to Ukraine—full stop, and so has the European Union. The White House later walked back Trump’s statement and said that US policy has not changed.

    Still, Kyiv remains understandably anxious. The nation of 44 million worries that Trump will bargain away Crimea for better US-Russian relations. Others fret that Trump will lift sanctions on Russia.

    The truth is that Trump can’t do as much as people think he can. 

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  • Herbst Quoted in RFE/RL on Democracy in Moldova


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  • Q&A: What’s Behind Moldova’s Massive Protests?

    Protesters are taking to the streets of Moldova’s capital of Chisinau again.

    On June 3, Andrei Nastase was elected mayor of Chisinau with 52.5% of the vote. Nastase, a pro-European prosecutor and anti-corruption activist, defeated Socialist Ion Ceban who favors closer ties to Moscow. On June 19, a Chisinau court struck down the election results, and the Moldovan Appeals Court upheld the decision on June 22. The case now rests with the Supreme Court of Justice.

    Nastase claims that the decision to cancel the results is politically motivated. He was one of the organizers behind Moldova’s large protests in 2015 after $1 billion vanished from the banking system.

    Why is an ostensibly pro-Western government in Moldova allowing a court to invalidate these election results? Are the court decisions politically motivated? Is this government really committed to democratic values? What does it mean for Moldova’s long-term prospects? We asked Atlantic Council experts and UkraineAlert contributors to weigh in.

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  • Herbst Quoted in the Washington Post on the G7 Summit and Russia


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  • Herbst in The American Interest: Why Nord Stream 2 Will Not Be Built


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  • The Atlantic Council Must be Open to Dialogue—Even if Critics Disagree

    I am sorry to see the letter from a group that opposes a private dinner that we are holding with Peter Aven and Mikhail Fridman of Alfa Group.

    I have the greatest of respect for this distinguished group of people, and we have more often been on the same side when it comes to campaigning on Russia, its aggressive foreign policy, abuse of human rights, and corruption.  Still, I am a bit bemused by the views they express in this statement.

    They are clearly critics of Fridman and Aven and they provide the reasons for their criticism. We are happy to provide them with the means to express their views.

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