During their joint press conference earlier today, Vladimir Putin sounded as confidently arrogant as Donald Trump did subservient. But when Putin sat down for an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News, we saw an entirely different side of him. Wallace was forceful and aggressive, and the usually cocky Putin came off as hesitant and rattled. In the process, Putin gave something away about Trump.
The Trump experiment was supposed to result in the easing of U.S. sanctions against Russia, so that the Russian oligarchs would get off Putin’s back, even as Trump’s bumbling created such an internal mess that the United States wouldn’t be in position to check Putin’s aggression in his own hemisphere. Instead the Trump-Russia scandal has created an environment where the sanctions never will be eased (Trump has only been able to fend off additional new sanctions mandated by Congress), and the U.S. is now more focused on Putin’s every move than ever.
Putin’s oligarchs are still losing billions of dollars because of his overrraching antics. Putin still doesn’t have control of mainland Ukraine. And now Robert Mueller just compromised Putin’s prized GRU hacking unit by exposing the identities and actions of a dozen of its top operatives. On top of it all, an increasingly desperate Donald Trump is at Putin’s doorstep, begging to be bailed out, at a time when Putin can ill afford to stick his neck out any further.
Vladimir Putin’s stumbling, reeling performance during his Chris Wallace interview gives away that the Trump experiment has been a failure for him. Putin thought he was getting an asset, and instead he got a liability. Trump put several more nails in the coffin of his dying presidency with that humiliating press conference today. How much longer before Putin cuts bait and lets Trump sink?
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report