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Who’s Vladimir Putin’s Best Friend in the World?

Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

The mainstream media doesn’t seem to want to talk about this, but it’s important that America and the world face what seems increasingly clear: Vladimir Putin’s best friend in the world — the person prepared to allow Putin to mount additional wars of aggression in Europe — is the leading Republican contender for president of the United States, Donald Trump.

On Saturday, during a rally at Coastal Carolina University, Trump ramped up his attacks on NATO, claiming he suggested to a European leader that he would encourage Russia to do “whatever the hell they want” to member countries he views as not spending enough on their own defense:

“One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, ‘Well, sir, if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?. I said, ‘You didn’t pay. You’re delinquent.’ He said, ‘Yes, let’s say that happened.’ No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want.”

Trump’s comment puts into context his strong opposition to providing more aid for Ukraine, and why Republican lawmakers are now backing off such funding.

It’s a giant turnabout for the Republican Party. Shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, only 11 Senate Republicans voted against providing aid to Ukraine. This past Thursday, 31 Senate Republicans voted against it. (It’s unclear whether House Republicans will even permit a vote on the package.)

Trump is also promising that if reelected president, he’ll resolve Putin’s war against Ukraine within 24 hours. Putin says he “cannot help but feel happy about” Trump’s promise. Of course Putin is happy. Trump has indicated he’d trade away Ukrainian territory,

 

Trump, in turn, is pleased by Putin’s happy response. “I got along with Putin. Let me tell you, I got along with him really well,” Trump said. “And that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.”

It’s a love affair made in hell: a vicious Russian dictator who detests democracy and a would-be American dictator who detests democracy. And the logic is inescapable: Putin rules Trump, and Trump rules the Republican Party; hence, Putin rules the Republican Party.

When Russia first invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Trump praised Putin as “a guy who’s very savvy,” and Trump characterized the invasion of Ukraine as “genius.”

Trump continues to cozy up to the Russian dictator. In a recent campaign speech, Trump even quoted Putin saying that the legal case against Trump “shows the rottenness of the American political system.” That Trump can get away with this, without anyone pointing out the rottenness of Russia’s political system under Putin, is evidence of how Putin’s and Trump’s anti-democracy movement has been normalized in America.

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