In the first seven weeks of the Donald Trump administration, Russia has been as hot an issue as it gets. Amid the scramble to do damage control, the most reasonable advice for Washington is to take a breath, sort out the sequence of moves, and draw appropriate "red lines."
It's often assumed that the Russian leadership will merely wait for the whirlwind of scandals to blow over—but there's a real risk that President Vladimir Putin will take a proactive stance and throw another of his trademark surprises.
In principle (which in Russian political lingo means "in a different world"), it makes perfect sense for Moscow to be patient. The scarlet letter marking He-Who-Spoke-With-The-Ambassador will fade, to be replaced by interactions with reliable interlocutors in the bureaucracy. Nevertheless, many experts in Moscow are now inclined to argue that the chance of striking a deal with Trump's team is lost, and that only tough tests of will are forthcoming.
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Putin, quite possibly, holds a different opinion. Doing deals is what he understands best and excels at—he'd be reluctant to give up on Trump as a negotiating partner. Putin's recent meeting with Darren Woods, ExxonMobil's new CEO, was probably intended as a signal to U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson and his boss about Russia's readiness to bargain. He probably is, but he might be pushed in a different direction.