Now, all of a sudden, not only are the Russians public enemy no. 1, they’d supposedly been in cahoots with a Republican presidential candidate and now-President. Vladimir Putin did admit that he preferred President Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election at the Helsinki Summit (leading some liberals to cite this as “proof” of collusion), but those same liberals didn’t notice (or care) that Putin also preferred Obama over Romney in 2012.
It’s not hard to see why. As the left-leaning Brookings Institute reminds us:
- Obama turned a blind eye to Russia’s war with Georgia in 2008.
- In 2009 Obama axed missile defense plans for Poland and the Czech Republic, which Russia interpreted as America retreating from the European continent. Russia then became more interventionist in Europe.
- Obama didn’t utter a peep as Russia annexed Crimea and invaded eastern Ukraine in 2014.
- Obama ignored calls from Congress, foreign policy experts, and members of his own cabinet to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine.
Obama has also been criticized by his fellow Democrats for not doing enough in response to the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC (which they now claim didn’t occur), or the alleged Russian hacking of Hillary Clinton’s private email server (which we now know was done by the Chinese).
Biggest of all however is the failure of Obama’s attempted “Russia reset” in 2009, which began with Hillary Clinton literally traveling to Russia with a “reset” button” that vaguely resembled one of those “That Was Easy” buttons you’ll see in a Staples commercial. The word “reset” was misspelled on the button, and things only went downhill from there. U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul was the architect of the reset plan – and encouraged future administrations to not pursue the same policies that the Obama administration did. Bill Clinton also deemed the attempted “reset” a failure.
Unlike Obama, Trump hasn’t been weak on Russia. Trump has said he’s the “toughest on Russia,” and while he’s no stranger to hyperbole, there’s no question that he was tougher than his predecessor.
While Trump isn’t shy to heap praise on Putin, you wouldn’t think the two had a cozy relationship if we were to judge Trump only by the actions he’s taken towards Russia as President.
- Trump did approve the sale of lethal weapons to Ukraine in December 2017.
- On the annexation of Crimea, Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated “We do not recognize Russia’s attempt to annex Crimea. We agree to disagree with Russia on that front. And our Crimea sanctions against Russia will remain in place until Russia returns the peninsula to the Ukraine.”
- Trump has ordered missiles to be fired at Syrian military sites (after President Assad was accused of using chemical weapons on his own people), which have a strategic alliance with Russia. In response, Putin accused the U.S. of “making the already catastrophic humanitarian situation in Syria even worse and bring[ing] suffering to civilians with its strikes.”
- In August 2017, Trump signed into law CAATSA, the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,” which imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia. In the words of the geopolitical intelligence platform Stratfor, “CAATSA demonstrates that the United States is more strident than ever in pushing other countries to reduce their defense and energy ties with Russia.”
- In March, following the poisoning (presumably by the Russian government) of former KGB agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Trump expelled 60 Russian diplomats.
- In April, Trump imposed more sanctions on Russia following the indictments of 13 Russians for “malicious cyber activities” earlier in March. Russia’s stock market dropped 11% on the news. Shares of the Russian aluminum giant Rusal (which is the world’s second largest aluminium company) tanked 40% on the news.
And what’s the evidence that Trump has been kind to Russia? Because Trump says nice things about Putin, and vice versa?
In reality, the two are respectful to one another despite politics – not because of them.