Russian President Vladimir Putin has at various points in the last year called presidential candidate Donald Trump “a bright person,” and “absolutely the leader in the presidential race.”
Meanwhile, his views of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are substantially less favorable, with Putin saying in April, “As they say in Russia, a husband and a wife are the same Satan.”
A Russian professor at the University of Michigan, Ekaterina Mishina, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Trump “is saying things which sound very appealing to the Russian president.” Mishina declared, “I’m absolutely positive that so far, Putin wants Donald Trump to be the President of The United States.”
She added, “For Vladimir Putin, Hillary Clinton is too much of a challenge.”
The challenge Mishina refers to is the restoration of U.S.-Russian relations in the wake of the Ukrainian conflict. After Ukraine’s 2013 civil war, Russia annexed the former Soviet territory of Crimea despite widespread international condemnation. Russia was also accused of sending non-uniformed soldiers into Ukraine, to fight on behalf of pro-Russian separatists.
The U.S. and the EU imposed sanctions on Russia since its annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine. The EU’s energy sanctions against Russia are particularly crippling, plunging Russia’s currency value and contracting its economy by two percent in 2015.
The crux of the Kremlin’s embrace of Trump stems from the presidential candidate’s willingness to restore relations with Russia after the Ukrainian crisis.
“U.S. Russian relations are worse than at any point since Gorbachev,” Dr. Angela Stent, a Russian policy expert at Georgetown University, told TheDCNF. Stent explained the U.S. cut off many high-level ties with the Russian government since the Ukrainian crisis, and the Kremlin wants America and its allies to lift its financial sanctions.
Aside from Putin’s praise of Trump’s unique personality, his approval centers around the need to “restore the level of cooperation” between the U.S. and Russia.
Professor Paul Josephson of Tomsk State University, told to TheDCNF that Russia believes it has a right, and has shown a willingness, to act in affairs within the former USSR. Stent explained that Trump’s willingness to travel to Moscow would be an implicit embrace of Putin’s desired world order.
Clinton’s Russia policy would likely reject Putin’s desired world order and continue the U.S. policy of Russian isolation.
“Moscow has taken aggressive military action in Ukraine” Clinton said in a June foreign policy speech. “If you don’t know exactly who you’re dealing with, men like Putin will eat your lunch.”
While Trump said before a large audience in April, “I believe an easing of tensions, and improved relations with Russia—from a position of strength only—is possible, absolutely possible.” He furthered his position saying, “Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out.”
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