Heat rises. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. Don’t believe a damn thing Putin says. What do these phrases all have in common? They’re all such common knowledge as to be aphorisms, or at least in the case of the last one, should be an aphorism. But why is this a big deal?
On Thursday, Vladimir Putin said that Russia’s relations with the US are “deteriorating, getting worse by the hour.” Congress has levied a number of sanctions against Russia since Trump took office, with some directed at punishing the oligarchs, Putin included. With this in mind, it makes sense that he would be angry at Trump for not having a truly dictatorial grasp around the neck of Congress, but don’t think this means he’s going to stop supporting Trump any time soon.
Putin is a grandmaster of sowing discord and doubt. He’s a man who passionately bemoans the fall of the Soviet Empire, and his career since that time has been directed full steam ahead to reestablishing Russia as a true superpower and bruising everyone on the path to achieving that wish. Stating publicly that the US-Russia relationship is rapidly deteriorating is yet another chess move; specifically, he’s trying to get us to let our guard down. It’s widely accepted that Russia engaged in a cyber war directed at bolstering support for Trump for a few major reasons. Trump, for whatever reason, seems to admire Putin and actively seeks his approval. Trump also had and still has a number of key people in his administration with suspicious Russian ties. But perhaps the most important reason for the Russians’ support of Trump and why they’ll continue to support him in 2020 despite Putin’s chide is that Trump is a fundamentally and epically weak leader.
Russia benefits from a weak America and, moreover, a weak western alliance. In the same breath as criticism of US-Russia relations, he was happy to commend Russia’s recent successes with regards to their trade with China, which exceeded expectations. This comes amid Trump’s trade war with China and a weakening American presence in the east as China’s Belt and Road initiative makes harrowingly fast and broad inroads not just in the east, but now the west.
Putin’s comment Thursday, if nothing else, portends that this game isn’t over for him, which means it isn’t over for Trump either. With the impeccable timing of a Soviet gymnast, Trump blurted out that he’d be happy to accept help from Russia or other foreign governments for his 2020 campaign. So there you have it – straight from the horse’s ass.