Staunton, June 3 – Russian assessments of just how useful US President Donald Trump have been on a rollercoaster ever since his election. At first, many in Moscow expected that the new American leader would quickly make “a big deal” with Vladimir Putin, at a minimum, lifting Western sanctions and at a maximum, recognizing the Russian occupation of Crimea.
When that didn’t happen and when in fact Trump oversaw the imposition of new sanctions against Russia, Moscow analysts expressed disappointment in the man they thought was “theirs,” with many insisting Trump want to do the right thing from their point of view but has been stymied by domestic American politics and the supposed “deep state” in Washington.
More recently, Russian analysts, looking beyond the sanctions and Ukrainian issues, have become enthusiastically positive about Trump once again, seeing his broader actions with the United States and internationally as unqualifiedly serving Russian national interests even if the US president is not yet doing all they hope for.
On the one hand, these analysts see Trump’s attacks on the US judicial system as undermining the confidence of Americans in the political system there and thus weakening the ability of Washington to act self-confidently and consistently in response to Russian advances in various parts of the world (topwar.ru/135288-tramp-opyat-nash.html
And on the other, they argue that Trump’s trade policies by alienating US allies are promoting exactly the outcomes Putin wants, undermining the connection between the US and Europe that Moscow has sought to disrupt since 1947 and reducing the influence of the US on the international system whose participants see him as irresponsible and unreliable.
This last argument, as US-based Russian journalist Kseniya Kirillova points out in a new article (tverezo.info/post/57586), has been made by Russian analyst Rostislav Ishchenko. In a commentary entitled “Thanks to Comrade Trump,” he says the Kremlin must be grateful to him for pushing Europe towards Moscow (alternatio.org/articles/articles/item/59849-spasibo-tovarischu-trampu).
It is precisely to Trump, Ishchenko says, that “we must be grateful for Europe’s epiphany” and the willingness of Western leaders to meet with Putin, something they would not have done only a few months ago. They haven’t come over completely; but they have come as far as they have only because of Trump’s actions.
Thus, the Russian analyst says, the American president is serving Moscow’s larger purposes -- regardless of what he says or does about sanctions and Ukraine.
Kirillova concludes with a citation to a Twitter post two days ago by Russian opposition leader Gary Kasparov. In it, he recalled that “in Jan. 2017, I gave a ‘Putin’s Wish List’ to explain what he most wanted from Trump. Lifting sanctions was #1, but Flynn got caught & blew it up. A trade war with NATO allies was #2 (twitter.com/Kasparov63/status/1002592276722352133).
Kasparov for his part was responding to an argument American commentator Max Boot made in the Washington Post and on Twitter as well. Boot says that “the transatlantic rift that Trump has created is a gift to Russia that amply repays Vladimir Putin’s investment in helping the Trump campaign” (twitter.com/MaxBoot/status/1002588568194355200).
“As we see,” Kirillov says, “Trump to the full extent is responding to Moscow’s desires; and in certain respects, he is even ‘overfulfilling’ them.”