MOSCOW, After years of icy tensions, the United States and Russia might soon enter a new era of allied cooperation — thanks to voters putting Donald Trump in the White House.
The Kremlin has been in the United States’ doghouse for several years over a long list of grievances that involve human rights, terrorism, sovereignty rights and economic sanctions. With Trump’s stunning upset, however, it’s not a stretch to say that could all now change.
For them, Russian leaders and citizens awoke to great news on Wednesday when they learned the controversial billionaire had effectively snatched away the election from Hillary Clinton. Russian President Vladimir Putin, for example, has been a major proponent of Trump’s — and citizens frustrated with a sagging economy that owes itself to crippling U.S.-imposed sanctions are right there behind him.
“Today I want to ride around Moscow with an American flag in the window, if I can find a flag,” Margarita Simonyan, editor in chief of the Kremlin-owed RT news channel, said.
“Tonight is a night of Trump for all Americans and the world,” added Putin party supporter Boris Chernyshev. “Tonight we can use the slogan with Mr. Trump: Yes we did.”
Moscow’s resurgent jubilation, though, rings with a touch of hypocrisy. In recent weeks, Russian leaders who were convinced Clinton would win relentlessly derided the American electoral process. Now, though, they don’t think it’s so bad.
“This is a great day for American democracy,” Russian Sergei Markov said. “We have to respect American democracy.”
In contrast to American indices, the Russian ruble and financial markets surged on Wednesday due to Trump’s victory.
Things, in fact, couldn’t have worked out better for the former Soviet Union. Under Obama and presumably Clinton, Moscow faced continuing troubles and ongoing fiscal penalties over a host of disagreements. Trump’s victory might now let Russia sidestep what could have been a very difficult near future.
In recent weeks, the Obama administration has accused Russia of trying to interfere in the election. For many months, Moscow has stood in lock-step with the authoritarian regime of Bashar Assad in Syria. And for more than a year, American intelligence officials have claimed that Russian “actors” have been responsible for a series of U.S. website hackings — two of which impacted the Democratic Party.
With Trump on their side, Russian leaders now see an opportunity to go forward with multiple unpopular foreign policy matters — including those related to the annexation of Crimea, Moscow’s continuing military mobilization and the Kremlin’s cold approach of NATO, the U.S. and European peace coalition that Trump repeatedly slammed during his campaign.
In other words, Russians believe they now have an ally for their efforts in direct access to the Oval Office.
“They’re drinking in the Kremlin now,” Alexei Venediktov, editor in chief of Echo of Moscow, said. “We’ll see what happens later.”
By Doug G. Ware