Trump and Putin: A controversial relationship

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President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin – Image courtesy of Slate

Trump has been vague and inconsistent with many of his policies, both domestic and foreign. Democrats and Republicans alike have condemned Trump’s relationship with a particular world leader: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

 The United States and Russia have had an unstable relationship since the Cold War. After the Soviet Union fell and the Cold War ended, both nations coexisted without serious conflict. Tensions arose again in 2014 during Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, and have only worsened as both countries backed different sides in the ongoing Syrian Civil War. Obama has since imposed sanctions on Russia as a way of punishing Putin for his actions on the world stage. Some consider these new tensions between two world powers with a history of disagreement to be a second Cold War.

Trump has promised repeatedly to improve relations with Russia, and this commitment to working with Putin on common interests has gained him widespread support in the country. According to USA Today, about a third of Russians feel that Trump will be the best president to lead America. Russians are enamored by Trump because he admires Putin and emulates his strong leadership style as much as they do: Putin has a 90% approval rating in Russia according to polls. In an interview with CBS, Trump praised Putin’s policy of attacking Syrian rebel groups and backing President Bashar Al-Assad.

Trump promised to work with Putin on a basis of mutual interest, rather than mutual values, as defeating ISIS. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Trump answered: “wouldn’t it be nice if we actually got along with Russia, wouldn’t it be nice if we went after ISIS together.”

Putin has also expressed admiration for Trump, calling him a bright and talented individual; however, this praising has been exaggerated by the president-elect himself.

Trump’s interest in Russia appears to be a constructive one, geared toward uniting two nations to create a more secure world. What Trump denies, however, is his extensive investment with Russian businessmen. Trump tweeted in July of this year that he has no investments in Russia. Although, according to Time, once Trump stopped receiving money from major banks in the United States due to recurring bankruptcies, he sought money from Russian investors inside of Putin’s circle. Trump’s son, Donald Jr., mentioned in a 2008 real estate conference, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” adding that “we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” His former campaign chairman Paul Manafort had business deals with Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was being ousted in 2014.  Independent reported that Donald Trump Jr. held secret talks in Paris to coordinate with Russia to end the Syrian conflict.

Trump refuses to acknowledge his ties to Russia because he wants his admiration for Putin to seem political, rather than commercial.
In any case, his relationship with Putin shows again his anti-establishment mentality as he adopts policies that are disapproved by Republicans and Democrats alike.

Article by Katerina Muraviyova, COM’19

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