If Mr. Trump’s slavish devotion to Putin persists in office, it will continue to raise questions about the exact nature of their relationship. If the president-elect wants to put such suspicions to rest, he should get as tough with the Kremlin as he vows to do with America’s other enemies.
When Rex Tillerson, Exxon Mobil Corp.’s longtime chief executive and now Donald Trump’s choice to be secretary of state, appears before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, he will get a lot of questions about his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. If senators want a better conversation with Mr. Tillerson, they should get him to acknowledge—or dispute—the basic facts of Russian-American relations. Stephen Sestanovich presents three questions aimed at getting Tillerson to admit how much sanctions have accomplished.
Last week’s rollout of new sanctions against Russia by the Obama administration answered many questions about Moscow’s alleged hacking activities. But it didn’t address one crucial question, writes Stephen Sestanovich.
The Obama administration continues to search for some sort of payback against Vladimir Putin, so that Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. election will not have been completely cost-free for the Russian president. Yet, by all accounts, President Barack Obama has rejected the idea of trying to expose the hidden wealth and financial shenanigans of the Putin inner circle. That, we are told, would be a big yawn: the Russian public just doesn’t care.
This was a serious strategy pursued energetically by leaders of both the United States and Russia. For many years it seemed to work. That it has lately yielded to acrimony and division does not mean there was a better choice, argues Stephen Sestanovich.
As reports increasingly indicate that Russia interfered with the U.S. presidential election to benefit Donald Trump, the president-elect has forcefully pushed back on the intelligence community. Admitting that Moscow played a role in the election, Trump believes, would delegitimize his victory, so he has doubled down on his position that Russia was not involved in the hacks on Democratic Party officials, writes Robert Knake.
Trump is too mercurial a figure to pursue any policy with any consistency, even a pro-Russia policy. We can only hope that Russia does not succeed in reestablishing its empire and swallowing some of America’s more vulnerable allies in Eastern Europe before Trump wakes up to the fact that Putin is not America’s friend.
Our democracy is under attack by Russia, but almost no one is treating the situation with the gravity it deserves. President Obama is loathe to retaliate. Would-be president Donald Trump denies that any attack is happening. And the media are acting as enablers for the attackers.
Russia is more estranged from Europe and the United States than at any point since the end of the Cold War, and perhaps much longer ago than that. The president of Russia is simply a poor judge of the country’s interests, writes Stephen Sestanovich.
Donald Trump has gotten a lot of well-justified criticism for his paeans to Vladimir Putin, Russia’s anti-American dictator. But Trump isn’t backing down from his effusive praise of Putin, and neither are his supporters. On both foreign and domestic policy there is simply no comparison between the democratically elected president of America and the thug who has seized control of Russia. Putin is not serving Russia’s interests, only his own and those of his crooked cronies and it’s terrifying that Trump sees Putin as an admirable leader, and shameful that his supporters have fallen in line to defend his indefensible views.
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