For all the various motivations that Russian President Vladimir Putin might have had when it came to helping his puppet Donald Trump cheat his way into the presidency, the number one reason was U.S. sanctions against Russia. The existing sanctions put in place by President Obama have personally cost Putin billions of dollars, and they’ve weakened his standing among the Russian oligarchs, who have also seen their wallets hit severely. Trump has spent his time in office bending over backward trying to prevent both parties from applying even harsher sanctions against Russia, but now he just blew it. Badly.
We still don’t yet know whether Trump, who seems more removed from fact and reality by the day, ever did figure out that Congress had snuck new Russian sanctions into the bipartisan compromise spending bill that it placed on his desk this week. Those sanctions may have been the reason Trump tweeted on Thursday that he was considering vetoing it, or that may have merely been him briefly pretending to flex political muscles he knows he doesn’t have. Either way, Trump backed down and signed the bill today, thus enacting tougher sanctions against Russia into law, whether he realized he was doing it or not. So now what?
Congress passed harsher sanctions against Russia last year in nearly unanimous and easily veto-proofed fashion, which left Trump little choice but to sign it. Trump then flatly refused to implement the sanctions after signing the bill, but he did finally cave after Putin recently poisoned several British citizens while trying to take out a Russian spy in the UK. So he’s learned that merely signing off on tougher sanctions, and then refusing to implement them, is not a solid strategy for protecting Putin. In turn, Putin doubtless knows full well that Trump signed off on new sanctions today, which may indeed find their way into being enacted.
This comes at a time when Donald Trump is at his absolute weakest and most vulnerable. He’s reduced to spitefully firing people who are irrelevant to his Trump-Russia criminal scandal, because he knows he can’t get away with firing the people who are in position to take him down for his crimes. His approval rating is in the toilet, he’s costing his own party one election after another, and he may have just picked the wrong time to blow it for his puppet master Vladimir Putin. Trump was supposed to make the sanctions situation better for Russia. Instead he’s made it worse. How much longer will Putin continue with his failed Trump experiment?
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report