Trump - Moscow is "a natural ally"
Paul Krugman suggested that "Trump would, in office, actually follow a pro-Putin foreign policy, at the expense of America’s allies and her own self-interest.... some of this is Mr. Trump’s deep ignorance of policy, his apparent inability to understand that you can’t run the U.S. government the way he has run his ramshackle business empire.... he has substantial if murky involvement with wealthy Russians and Russian businesses. You might say that these are private actors, not the government — but in Mr. Putin’s crony-capitalist paradise, this is a meaningless distinction. "
As early as 1990, Trump criticized Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev for not having a “firm enough hand.” In September 2015, Donald Trump said he would "get along" with Putin and deal with Moscow with respect, which in turn would bring an end to the current difficulties plaguing US-Russia relations.
The Russian president welcomed Trump’s call for better US-Russia relations during the annual press conference, which was held on 18 Dcember 2015. "He is a very bright person, talented without any doubt. It is not our business to assess his worthiness, but he is the absolute leader of the presidential race. He says he wants to move to a different level of relations — a fuller, deeper [level] — with Russia, how can we not welcome this? Of course we welcome this," Putin said.
Trump said he was honored to receive praise from Russian President Vladimir Putin on 18 Dcember 2015. "It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond," Trump said at a Thursday rally in Columbus, Ohio, as quoted by the DC-based political newspaper The Hill.
After Putin called Trump a "bright and talented" and the "absolute leader of the presidential race," Trump returned the compliments, hailing Putin as a "leader" and pointing to his high favorability numbers in Russia. "He's running his country and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country," Trump said when asked by "Morning Joe" Republican host Joe Scarborough about Putin's alleged killing of journalists and political opponents. "I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe, so you know. There's a lot of stupidity going on in the world right now, a lot of killing, a lot of stupidity," he said. Trump noted that Putin had called him smart, which Trump said is "always good, especially when the person heads up Russia."
Russian President Vladimir Putin had not been convicted in regard to the former Russian FSB secret service agent Alexander Litvinenko murder case, and hence should be presumed innocent, US presidential hopeful Donald Trump said on 26 January 2016. "The fact is, he [Putin] has not been convicted of anything. Many people say it was not him, so who knows who did it," Trump stated in an interview with Fox Business News. "I don't know that he did it."
Trump told a rally 03 February 2016 that the United States should welcome Russia as a full partner in the struggle to destroy the Islamic State. "Wouldn't it be nice if we got along with Russia so we could knock out ISIS [the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, which is outlawed in Russia] with them?" Trump stated on Tuesday evening. "Let them beat the s**t out of ISIS also. We'll beat the s**t out of them."
Trump and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush sparred 14 February 2016 over whether Russia could be a US ally in the Syrian conflict settlement. Bush argued that Trump had brought up the idea of wanting to "accommodate" Russia, saying that "it is absolutely ludicrous to suggest that Russia could be a positive partner" in Syria.
In an 04 March 2016 op-ed for The Washington Post, Neoconservative pundit Anne Applebaum, an Polish-American journalist known for her hawkish, stridently anti-Russian attitudes, laid out a worst-case scenario. "... next January we could have, in the White House, a man who is totally uninterested in what presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton, Reagan – as well as Johnson, Nixon and Truman – would all have called 'our shared values.' ...
"[Trump] brags that he 'would not care much' whether Ukraine was admitted to NATO; he has no interest in NATO and its security guarantees. Of Europe, he has written that 'their conflicts are not worth American lives. Pulling back from Europe would save this country millions of dollars annually'. In any case, he prefers the company of dictators to that of other democrats. 'You can make deals with those people,' he has said of Russia. 'I would have a great relationship with [Vladimir] Putin.' ...
" ... not only is Trump uninterested in America's alliances, he would be incapable of sustaining them. In practice, both military and economic unions require not the skills of a shady property magnate who 'makes deals' but boring negotiations, unsatisfying compromises and, sometimes, the sacrifice of one's own national preferences for the greater good."
In Donald Trump’s meeting with The Washington Post editorial board 21 March 2016 he said : "Ukraine is a country that affects us far less than it affects other countries in NATO, and yet we are doing all of the lifting, they’re not doing anything. And I say, why is it that Germany is not dealing with NATO on Ukraine? Why is it that other countries that are in the vicinity of the Ukraine not dealing with — why are we always the one that’s leading, potentially the third world war, okay, with Russia? Why are we always the ones that are doing it? And I think the concept of NATO is good, but I do think the United States has to have some help. We are not helped. I’ll give you a better example than that. I mean, we pay billions– hundreds of billions of dollars to supporting other countries that are in theory wealthier than we are......
"NATO was set up at a different time. NATO was set up when we were a richer country. We’re not a rich country. We’re borrowing, we’re borrowing all of this money. We’re borrowing money from China, which is a sort of an amazing situation. But things are a much different thing. NATO is costing us a fortune and yes, we’re protecting Europe but we’re spending a lot of money. Number 1, I think the distribution of costs has to be changed..... we are not in the position that we used to be. I think we were a very powerful, very wealthy country. And we’re a poor country now."
Foreign affairs analyst Vladimir Mikheev monitored the election campaign in the US with apprehension and cautious optimism. Among those in the running, he saw Donald Trump as a true alternative to the mainstream candidates, and one whose attitudes toward Russia and NATO make him an attractive proposition for Russia. He wrote April 1, 2016 "Trump’s treatment of NATO as a costly enterprise with little benefit to the U.S. (“We certainly can’t afford to do this anymore”) is a welcome change of tune. .... Trump’s reassessment of the value of the trans-Atlantic military alliance is one step closer to what many in Russia would like to hear: admittance that NATO is a Cold War relic."
Trump told a campaign rally in Racine, Wisconsin 02 April 2016 that allies in NATO "are not paying their fair share" and called the 28-nation alliance "obsolete." Trump said "We are protecting them and they are getting all sorts of military protection and other things and they're ripping off the United States and they're ripping you off. I don't care. I don't want to do that. Either they pay up including for past deficiencies or they have to get out. And if it breaks up NATO it breaks up NATO". Speaking at an event in Eau Claire, Trump said "I know about NATO. I'm not an expert on NATO, but I have a lot of common sense."
President Putin spoke for hours at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on 17 June 2016. When asked about his opinion of the candidates for US president, Putin explained his attitude towards “probably the only superpower,” as the president called it. “America is a great state... We accept it, and we want to and are ready to work with the United States,” he said, adding that no matter who is elected as America’s next leader, Russia will work with him or her. Yet, the Russian President hinted that Donald Trump’s foreign agenda might be more preferable to Moscow, “Mr. Trump has stated that he is ready to restore full format Russia-US relations... We all welcome it.”
Trump’s campaign rhetoric is the “biggest dream of everyone in the Kremlin,” Tina Khidasheli, defense minister of Georgia, a U.S. ally, told The Washington Post in June 2016. “It’s scary, it’s dangerous, and it’s irresponsible. ... It is a big problem if you have a candidate for president of the United States talking like this.” David J. Kramer, who served as deputy assistant secretary of state dealing with Russia during the George W. Bush administration, said he was “appalled” by Trump’s approach to the Russian leader. “Why would anyone welcome an endorsement from [Putin]?” Kramer asked. “Putin exploits weakness and an accommodationist approach. I shudder to think what would happen if he finds that in the next American president.”
Donald Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin 07 September 2016, saying he has been more of a leader than U.S. President Barack Obama. During an NBC News forum in which he was interviewed separately from Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, Trump said he thinks as president he would have a "very good relationship with Putin." He also said Russia and the U.S. have a joint interest in defeating Islamic State. "Russia wants to defeat ISIS as badly as we do," he said. "If we had a relationship with Russia wouldn't it be wonderful if we could work on it together and knock the hell out of ISIS?"
Obama responded to Trump's criticism during a news conference, saying the Republican candidate is not qualified to be president and has "either uninformed or contradictory or outright wacky ideas. ... This is serious business, and you have to actually know what you're talking about". Hillary Clinton reflected on the Commander-in-Chief Forum. Clinton said Trump has taken “the astonishing step of suggesting he prefers the Russian president to our American president.” Clinton said, "That is not just unpatriotic and insulting to the people of our country as well as our commander in chief,” said Clinton. “It is scary because it suggests he will let Putin do whatever Putin wants to do and then make excuses for him," she said. “I was just thinking about all of the presidents that would just be looking at one another in total astonishment. What would Ronald Reagan say about a Republican nominee who attacks American’s generals and heaps praise on Russia’s president?"
Former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, once the lead Republican lawyer on the Senate committee investigating Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Whitewater scandal, told Eli Lake at Bloomberg 03 October 2016 that “Trump’s sense of loyalties are misplaced,” he said. “Some of our NATO allies sent troops overseas, at the same time he is defending Russia and trying to dismiss what is widely acknowledged to be Russian intrusions into the databases of our political parties and political figures.” Chertoff said this amounted to “making enemies of your friends and cozying up to your adversaries.”
One day after firing FBI Director Comey, Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office. In his meeting with Lavrov, Trump appeared to be boasting about his knowledge about the threat, saying “I have people brief me on great intel every day”. Trump revealed highly classified information about a planned Islamic State operation to Russia’s foreign minister. The intelligence was shared at the meeting in the White House between Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. The information was supplied by a US ally through an intelligence-sharing arrangement and was tightly restricted even within the U.S. government. Bob Corker, the Republican head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said of the White House, “Obviously, they’re in a downward spiral right now and they’ve got to come to grips with all that’s happening".
Trump met the Russians on May 10th, the day after he fired Comey. The New York Times reported 19 May 2017 that Trump called ousted FBI director James Comey “crazy” and “a real nut job”. It said the president then told Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador that he “faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off”.
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