Russian Politicians Can No Longer Contain Their Glee

Russian officials from Vladimir Putin’s ruling party are beginning to find it difficult to contain their glee at the election of Donald Trump in the US presidential electionCBS News reported that a Russian governor recently shared his view of who he thinks really won the American election,

“It turns out that United Russia won the elections in America,” Viktor Nazarov, the governor of Omsk, Russia, declared in a radio interview. 

Nazarov’s “United Russia” is a reference to Putin’s ruling party. Under the Russian autocrat, United Russia has maintained semi-permanent majority control of the Russian Duma. The party’s ideology evolves over time, recently trending more toward traditional Russian conservatism, but its goal is always to support and enable Putin’s kleptocratic regime, and its privatization and militarization.

CBS News reports that Putin’s party believes that Trump’s win in the Electoral College is a win for Russia, because they believe that Trump is going to undo the sanctions that President Barack Obama slapped against Russia. The sanctions targeted Russian oligarchs following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

For Putin, sanctions relief is a gateway to the ultimate goal of establishing Russia as the political and economic equivalent of the United States. Mr. Trump, who has extolled Putin’s leadership and called for a tempered approach to U.S.-Russia relations, may be a conduit to achieving that.

“It’s much more about institutions, not about personalities,” said Robert Amsterdam, an international attorney who has a number of high-profile Russian clients. Putin “was seriously impacted by the sanctions because it targeted his closest friends and now they think Trump is going to change that.” 

Given recent developments surrounding Trump and Russia, Nazarov’s view that United Russia won the election is probably accurate. it is becoming clear that Russia supported Trump in the election, that Trump’s transition team is using propaganda in an effort to muddy the waters on that issue, that Trump is increasingly actively hostile toward US intelligence, and the president-elect is appointing people who embrace Russian foreign policy interests.

On Saturday, Trump blasted the CIA after it issued its findings that Russia had supported Trump. Also on Saturday, Trump tapped Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be his Secretary of State. Tillerson established a business partnership with Russia that Putin estimates is worth half a trillion dollars. Tillerson and Putin have sought closer relations between the US and Russia since the sanctions were implemented.

The question of whether Trump is a Russian stooge is effectively settled. The question now is how much Trump, who is reportedly ignoring most of his intelligence briefings, will serve Russian interests and attack American interests, or whether he can be reigned in by other forces in Washington.

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