From Rossiiskaya gazeta, Aug. 5, 2020, p. 6. Complete text:

The US is entering the definitive phase of the [2020] presidential race, which will culminate in the fall. It makes no sense for us as outside observers to analyze it in detail, for several reasons. The first is the very nature of what is going on (the personalities of the two candidates and the circumstances make the whole saga look quite absurd). Second, it is becoming increasingly clear that the US is in the midst of a painful transformation. At some point, it will end, producing something fundamentally new, but right now it is still in its early stages, and it would be premature to say anything definitive. Third, even though the US objectively plays a key role in the world, its role is currently trending downward. So it’s time we drop the habit of following every twist and turn in US politics with bated breath.

Fourth, as I wrote elsewhere, there is no reason to expect a fundamental shift in US policy toward Russia. There might be slight variations between the candidates’ positions, but they are insignificant. For instance, it is possible that, should [presumptive Democratic nominee] Joe Biden win, key positions in the administration will be filled by people whose dislike for Russia is personal or ideological, as well as systemic. Yet that would not fundamentally change US-Russia relations, since they are not just hostile – they are right now also pretty much devoid of substance. For Moscow, more important than how the outcome of the 2020 election will affect relations between Russia and the US is how it will affect Washington’s relations with the rest of the world. Trump is so rude to many of his partners that even a change in style may affect global affairs. New developments in the US, ties with China, European nations, India, the Arab world, etc. will shape Russia’s situation in the international arena – and this is more important than US-Russia relations per se. Our view of US-Russia relations should be purely transactional: Do they benefit us at all, or not?

The 2020 race, given the nature of the two candidates, is the last hurrah from the generation that was shaped by the cold war and reached its political zenith after it ended. The next presidential term will be the last one for either candidate: for Trump because of legal limits, and for Biden because of his age. The biggest question is who will run for president in 2024 (and by “who,” I mean “what kind of person”) – and what that will mean for America and the rest of the world. In the previous campaign, some of Trump’s supporters believed that he and his followers were kamikazes whose mission was to stem the liberal tide at any cost and restore America’s past greatness. As this unexpected presidential term draws to a close, it seems that the kamikazes honestly strove to accomplish their mission, but it backfired. The radical sentiment sweeping across America today is precisely what Trump supporters sought to end. In the meantime, Trump’s rival, who has no remarkable political strengths of his own, is the clear front-runner precisely because of this extreme polarization.

Heightening the sense of a left-wing comeback is the fact that we hardly see any public pushback, the expected knee-jerk mobilization of right-wing nationalists. Perhaps some steam is currently building up inside – for example, US statistics show that firearm sales have gone up recently. Democratic politicians and media outlets predict clashes in November if Trump loses and refuses to concede defeat. Yet those predictions are politically motivated. The big picture looks like this: What we can loosely describe as “Trump’s America” is definitely losing ground – even in numerical, demographic terms. That is why political disputes in the US have been so fierce in recent years. To Trump supporters and sympathizers, this is their last line of defense, their “Stalingrad,” whereas their opponents are up in arms because they view Trump supporters as a reactionary rebellion, a “Vendée revolt” of sorts, which they believe is on the wrong side of history.

The US will emerge from this battle transformed. So far, it appears as if, after being “made great again,” America will pass on the reins to the champions of global leadership. Biden is a compromise candidate, and his administration would be a transitional one. It would be a transition from the people who worked with [former US presidents] Bill Clinton and [Barack] Obama to younger people who are more committed to fighting racism in any form. Some commentators think it is this wave that will provide ideological content for the next period: They will try to put global leadership on a high moral ground. This will stand in stark contrast with the presidency of Trump, who clearly cannot stand moralizing rhetoric.

Yet this does not mean that Trump’s nationalist interlude will vanish without a trace. It is unlikely that America’s attempts to focus on its own affairs, which the current president has taken to a shocking extreme, will end once he is gone. The US is clearly overburdened with extensive international commitments, and the left wing of the Democratic establishment favors dropping some of them. In reality, the US will pursue a much more calculated and selfish foreign policy, much in the same vein as Trump’s transactional diplomacy – only without his repulsive excesses. This is more or less what we should expect from the “America Last” foreign policy approach.