There are numerous theories as to why Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to turn Donald Trump into his political puppet, but there’s only ever been one correct answer: money. Putin answers to his billionaire oligarchs, who have been unhappy ever since his invasion of Crimea resulted in costly sanctions and an expulsion from the G8, which reverted back to the G7. At this week’s G7 summit, Trump revealed that he’s no longer following Putin’s instructions.
If you’re less than sure that Putin’s primary motivation here is money, all you need to look at is Trump’s plea over the weekend for the G7 to reinstate Russia. For Putin, this is all about sanctions and trade and the billions of dollars that he and his oligarchs have on the line. If Trump recklessly busts up America and the West in the process, then so be it – but this is about money. To that end, there was only one way Russia was ever going to be allowed back into the G7 this past weekend.
If Trump had acted friendly to the other G7 leaders, and if he had promised them something of value in return, then perhaps they’d have considered allowing Russia back in. The odds of that would have been very remote, but playing nice would have been the only way to give it any chance at all. Trump may be too stupid and reckless to understand this, but Putin certainly understands how these thing work. Instead, Trump went into the G7 causing as many problems as he could, meaning that by the time he delivered Putin’s plea, he’d already wrecked the entire plan.
So now we know that Donald Trump is no longer willing or able to fully follow Vladimir Putin’s instructions. Putin certainly told Trump to go into the G7 and make nice before making a plea for Russia. We don’t know if Trump went in picking fights because he was that desperate to push them into handing him a personal victory on trade, or if he’s so far gone psychologically that he just couldn’t help himself. Either way, this is not at all what Putin wanted. For him, this is about money. It always has been.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report