Now that the House and Senate have both passed a bill in near unanimous fashion which takes away Donald Trump’s ability to ease sanctions on Russia, Trump has been left with no choice but to swallow it. In turn, Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced swift and severe retaliation against the United States, vowing to expel more than seven hundred U.S. diplomats from Russia. The trouble: most of those diplomats don’t exist.
In yet another round of games between Putin and Trump, this “retaliation” on the part of Russia is largely of the imaginary type. It began when AFP News Agency reported “755 US diplomats must leave Russia, President Putin announces” (link). That led Michael McFaul, the recent former United States Ambassador to Russia, to point out that “We dont have 755 American diplomats in Russia” (link) – and he would be in a position to know. So what’s really going on here?
Putin clearly wants to put on a good show, creating the appearance that he’s retaliating against the U.S. sanctions bill in dramatic fashion. He appears to have picked the “755” number out of thin air, simply so he could make it sound like he’s uprooting a large number of Americans and cracking down harshly. While the media in the U.S. will end up exposing this as a drastically inflated number, it’s possible that the Russian media – which is largely controlled by Putin himself – will allow his false claim to stand. If so, the Russian people won’t know that he’s taking imaginary action. But there may be more to this where Putin and Trump are concerned.
Vladimir Putin’s primary motivation for installing his puppet Donald Trump in the White House was so that he would lift U.S. sanctions against Russia, which have been severely impacting Putin’s own personal fortune. Now that Trump has officially and permanently failed in this task, Putin’s decision to announce sweeping retaliation – even of the imaginary variety – may be his way of sending a signal to Trump that he’s about to face real retaliation of the more personal kind. Might we now see Putin begin leaking some of the blackmail material that he’s been using to control Trump all along? Regular readers, feel free to support Palmer Report
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report