Is Trump “Pro-Russian?” How will Russia Fare? Russians want to Know

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The Russian op-ed writers are intrigued with Donald Trump, who has spoken of improving relations between the US and the Russian Federation. But they want to know what the bottom line will be, given his equally strong tough guy bluster.

An editorial in the Russian from Nov. 15 pointed out that what Moscow hopes for from a pro-Russian US president is the recognition that Crimea is Russian, and an end to the sanctions placed on Russia after its unilateral annexation of that territory from the Ukraine.

The editorial, according to BBC monitoring, warns,

“But it is hardly likely that Trump, who criticised Obama as a “weakling” compared with Putin, will himself want to be known as a “weakling,” having made unilateral concessions to Russia.”

That is, the Russian observer is as confused by Trump’s unpredictability as everyone else. Does Trump want to play hard ball with Putin? Or does he want to work together with Moscow?

The editorialist also claims that Russian elites pushed for Brexit, for the exit of Britain from the European Union, and also have funded the campaign of far right French nationalist Marine Le Pen. These tactics, the writer said, aim at weakening the European Union. But the writer wonders aloud why anyone would think that a weaker, divided EU would be better for Russia. The EU is Russia’s largest trading parter

He adds, “If in France Marine Le Pen . . . [becomes] president, attempts at the further division of Europe and the chances of a lifting of the European sanctions may be expected.” But he clearly does not approve.

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Leonid Radzikhovsky writes in an editorial for Rossiyskaya Gazeta on 15 November, according to BBC Monitoring, that a “Washington is ours” euphoria has washed over Moscow. He is skeptical of that idea but admits that the election results were “a definite psychological victory for the Kremlin.”

He denies that Russia hacked the US elections.

Radzikhovsky argues that Russian President Vladimir Putin has become a classic conservative, in favor of “Euro-scepticism” and “traditional values.” But in any case, he concludes that the purpose of a good foreign policy is for a government to achieve is domestic policy goals, and he is hopeful that a US-Russia thaw will help Putin in that regard.

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Wall Street Journal: “Putin on U.S.-Russia Relations After Trump Win”

22 Responses

  1. There has evolved a US attitude that the rest of the world is either ‘for us or against us’, other nations being either allies, or enemies all set to injure the US if it doesn’t injure them first. The economic and military power of the US has served to carve this confrontational perception fairly deep, if for no other reason than that injuring, or threatening, another nation compels it either to pass beneath the yoke or adopt a defensive response and growl back. The US has never actually faced a major power on the ground, for all that is claimed for WWII the Russians had crucially weakened German power well before the Normandy invasion and, since the disintegration of the USSR, US conflicts have been with modest size nations with modest military resources and haven’t anyway been won in any meaningful sense. Trump’s change of US foreign policy need be no more than the recognition of that reality with a consequent movement of military resources and capability from action to threat. I remember a story current after WWII when we (UK) still endured serious rationing. It told of a box of oranges acquired by a trader who sold it at profit, a transaction repeated by subsequent buyers until it came to a family man who bore it home with great pride and expectation only to discover the oranges spoiled and uneatable. Taking them back in high dudgeon, the seller exclaimed, ‘Eat them? You must be mad! These are not oranges for eating, they’re oranges for doing business with’.

    Searching my recesses for some character Trump’s approach might perhaps resemble, I came up with Marlon Brando in ‘The Godfather’.

  2. The Russians achieved their goal: Erode faith in the US government and its systems and help elect their Manchurian Candidate by promoting fake news. And today, a couple of nonpartisan research groups are releasing their own findings detailing the reach of Moscow’s propaganda campaign: link to

    It’s a sad day. I’m no Cold Warrior and do not support pushing Moscow into a corner. But let’s recognize that the Russians are deploying a cynical and rancid foreign policy that is hurting millions of people while fostering the spread of an intolerant and chauvinistic ideology – Putinism.

    The accession to the White House of Donald Trump – it pains me to write that phrase – will harm us and the world in so many ways that it makes me cringe. Our only hope is that they find evidence of corruption and impeach him – and Pence as well (who may be worse.) Our only hope would be a GOP putsch that leads to a Romney presidency. I didn’t vote Romney in 2012, but he’s an honorable man and would not lead us to the disaster that is soon going to be upon us.

    • Putin’s strategic argument – supported by his US apologists – is that we should return to the era of cynical Great Powers, essentially undemocratic in their policymaking, complete with their “protective belt” of puppet border states. So Moscow should get its wretched empire of unwilling non-Russians back.

      But the basis for this cynical argument is that the Great Powers will respect the old rules about not interfering with each other or even their inner belt of satrapies. But states outside of those belts are fair game for the most destructive intervention. Dig it, isolationists, that’s as good as the good old days ever got.

      Yet Putin undermined even that argument by aiding Trump’s online smear campaign. He broke the china shop, he owns the mess that we will make of each other. If it’s that easy for Great Powers to destabilize each other’s governments, then the Great Power system and its subjugated spheres of influence don’t create any security at all, do they? Bismarck spending money to change who becomes the Prime Minister of Britain? Of course not. That gets you all the faster to the equivalent of Archduke Ferdinand getting killed by a Russian-supported terror group, and all the weapons come out.

      There have to be rules, and those rules are probably impossible for genuine democracies to agree upon. But they’re also impossible for genuine dictatorships to obey.

      • Much of my study as a undergrad and grad student involved the USSR and communism. It has been said that the Russian people themselves are similar in many ways to Americans and have many admirable qualities. Whatever the case, their international record has not been sterling. Consider, too, that Putin was a former KGB officer. To succeed in the KGB you had to be ruthless and unsentimental and a fervent nationalist and supporter of the regime. It was anything but a democratic organization and was guilty of stupendous horrors over the decades. I once read that the Poles have a saying that with the Germans they lose their freedom, with the Russians they lose their souls. Whoever and whenever dealing with the Russians, especially a Putin government or any authoritarian Russian government, wariness and skepticism should be the watch words.

    • “find evidence of corruption . . .”? My God — we’re practically drowning in it. But the GOP Congress impeach him? In your dreams.

      But that’s not our only hope anyway. Our only hope is to ACT.

    • When you look at Presidents who were considered corrupt–Grant, Harding, Nixon, etc. they were mostly corrupt administrations wherein cabinet members and other administration officials were corrupt. When you consider the Presidents themselves, as soon as Trump takes the oath of office he will have the distinction of being the most corrupt President in US history–fraud, sexual assault, misuse of charitable funds, illegal campaign donation to an attorney general considering indicting his company, and who knows what else. The Republicans impeach him? Highly unlikely unless he does something liberal they can’t stand.

    • That depends on what a single man in Russia wants as his price. There’s no one who can say no to it now in any case.

  3. And in the latest update to “Shi*s and Giggles from a Mad Magazine Glimpse into our Future,” the latest round of leaks has Rudy G’s chances of getting named as Sec. of State gaining currency. Romney, according to the leaks, will have to “apologize” for….essentially speaking his mind and telling the truth about Drumpf earlier in the year. I’m hoping this story is accurate and also hoping Romney remains true to his principles and does not bow before this clown. In a way, Truth be told, I’m almost hoping that Rudy DOES get to become Sec. of State. Along with Jeff Sessions, Wilbur Ross, DeVos and the other second raters he’s assembling, we will suffer so greatly that even the dimwits who got suckered into believing Drumpf’s bigoted nonsense will realize the error of their ways.

    Can you imagine Giuliani attempting to negotiate a complex and delicate deal with, say, Iran? I can’t.

      • Giuliani was a paid lobbyist for the MEK, an Iranian cult formerly designated by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terror organization; he spoke in France for MEK alongside its leader, Maryam Rojavi:

        link to terror-organization/

      • “Russian observer” observed by BBC? And if Giuliani wants a regime change in Iran, he will have to take a number as there is a long list of people ahead of him some of which have died waiting.

  4. In my opinion, Trump prides himself as a deal-maker. He would likely package recognition of the Crimean annexation in a deal where Russia returns Snowden and promises to cut off ties to the Donetsk region.

    • Maybe, just maybe, you could make a deal like that with Otto von Bismarck. Any willingness I had to give Putin the benefit of a doubt that he was one-tenth the man Bismarck was pretty much went down the tubes, when I recognized the colossal damage that Trump and his racist zombie army are willing to do dragging America back into its bloody past. Putin didn’t care about the consequences of that, or he did care and he welcomed it. And Putin’s support of similar racist parties across Europe is reinvigorating the spirit of White supremacy that made the 20th Century so reckless and violent. But the man who sees the Slav as his brother in Whiteness today can turn on a dime tomorrow, and Putin’s responsibility to his people was to consider what monster he was feeding. Racists don’t hesitate to betray their agreements with subhumans.

  5. I hope you do a story on the news from the Washington Post on the “shadowy” group that is exposing websites that are pushing Russian propaganda in the U.S. I looked to see if my usual political sites were listed, Informed Comment and Talking Points Memo and I did not see them listed, thank goodness. But I did see Truth Out listed. It’s too bad we don’t have a Congress that is willing to do full hardcore hearings and investigations on this issue.

  6. Americans continue to ignore this election’s most alarming fact: the successful effort by a hostile foreign power to manipulate public opinion before the vote.

    Trump owes Putin a great deal and Putin knows it. How will Putin collect?

  7. Russia is run by a bunch of thugs. we could say its a Russian mob country. Its run by Putin and his oligarch buddies. A weakened E.U. works for them because with G.B. out, so is their police and intelligence forces to a great extent. It allows the Russian mob to make inroads into Europe.

    Now the average Russian will see no improvement in their lives with trump even if he is pro Putin. I wouldn’t say he is pro Russia, just pro Putin. The billiionaires of the world tend to roll together. some times there are squabbles, but on the whole they share common interests and that is making money. With Trump in office Putin and his oligarchs see a chance to move into the U.S.A and scoop even more money. The Passionate Eye ran a great documentary on Putin and his accumulation of wealth since becoming president. His friends haven’t done so badly either.

    When you look at how South Africia’s president’s family has made out like bandits, expect the same from the president elect in the U.S.A. Government by thugs, for thugs.

    There is no gain for an working person in Russia or the U.S.A. with this merry little band of billionaires.

    • ” The billiionaires of the world tend to roll together” and billionaire Trump is currently assembling his gang of hillbilly thugs to do his bidding at our expense.

  8. Despite some interesting claims, the overall problem I have with Craig Timberg’s article in the Washington Post is that he misses half the story, thus to my mind making his whole argument suspect. There has been lots of “fake news” published by the mainstream media, and lots of valid opinions and facts on RT. Countless times the MSM has ignored real issues (like all those raised by Bernie) in favor of superficiality and distortion.

    Timberg ignores these very real problems, and seems to label anything critical of the US establishment as Russian propaganda.

    The best way to deal with Russian propaganda is honestly. That means acknowledging your own failings. And the MSM has failed us miserably, as has in so many ways our government.

    TYT, Democracy Now, Truthdig, Truthout and Informed Comment are where I tend to go for news that seems fairly accurate.
    Truthout is not perfect but is no Russian propaganda site, that is ludicrous.

    Just like these sites, RT has partly filled the space left by the superficial, empty and biased reporting of the MSM, much like Al Jazeera before them. It is an irony that the bias of the MSM
    has come back to bite them- and the bite will be much worse once Bannon takes over as Trump’s Goebbels. They will be squeezed between Trump’s repression (threats of lawsuits?) and the truth-telling (or not) of internet news.

    The overall problem seems to be one of multilevel corruption, in Russia, in the US, of Trump, of the Democrats, of the media…which is taking over and destroying the world. Yes, there seem to be too many fake scandals, but there are also more than enough real ones, on all sides.

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