In his first interview after the 2020 presidential election, former President Trump said that “getting along with Vladimir Putin (of Russia) is a good thing, and I get along with him very well.” Trump also said, however, that nobody was tougher on Russia than he was. And in John Bolton’s book “The Room Where it Happened”, Bolton says that Trump did tell him that both Russia and China were a threat.
It would seem that the U.S. has shared interests with Russia. Russia is a mostly Christian country that is geographically close to countries with extremist Muslim movements (like Afghanistan) and to countries with extremist Muslim governments (like Iran and Turkey). Russia’s wide-open spaces borders a crowded and powerful China. And some conservatives such as Pat Buchanan believe that Russia is morally superior to the hedonistic West.
One big reason to be on the good side of Putin is, as Putin accurately pointed out at a banquet, that Russia was the only country that could “destroy America in half an hour or less.”
Putin has been described as rightly embittered by the expansion of NATO to former Soviet Bloc countries. Donald Trump said in 2014 that “We’ve hurt Russia and we’ve done certain things that have really hurt Russia…” He added that Putin is “wounded” and that “wounded people and wounded animals can do lots of strange things and we’d better be a little bit careful.”
Whether the reasons for Russian behavior are understandable or not, its’ government has made the decision to be an adversary to the Western democracies.
Apart from the Russian troop buildup to Ukraine, on March 24 Daily Street News reported that “Tanks and other heavy armor” are “on-the-move in Grodno, Belarus, [heading] toward the borders of Poland and Lithuania.” Grodno is at the western-most road-hub leading to the Sawalki gap, considered to be “the most vulnerable stretch of land in Europe.” It is the ideal staging area for a Russian/Belarussian invasion of Poland and Lithuania. As reported by Time Magazine, “If Moscow gained control of the [Sawalki] corridor the Baltic States would, catastrophically, be cut off from other NATO allies.
It would seem that Russia would be cautious about China, but Russia and China are allies, and as an example, they agreed last January, to develop a joint Ballistic Missile Early Warning system.
It would also seem that the Russians would be cautious about extremist Muslim nations, but Russia supplies the very anti-American Muslim nation of Iran with arms. In addition, American General John Nicholson, while he was head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan said this: “We’ve had weapons brought to this headquarters and given to us by Afghan leaders [who] said, this was given by the Russians to the Taliban. We know that the Russians are involved.”
A country where Russia, China, Cuba, and Iran are all involved lies 1000 miles away from the U.S. That country is Venezuela. Nicolas Maduro’s Marxist dictatorship that leads that country got help in a rough spot from Russia. When it looked as if an uprising against Maduro’s regime in Venezuela might succeed, Russian paramilitaries arrived to protect Maduro.”
According to Bolton’s book “The Room Where It Happened”, “Moscow’s menace was undeniable, both military and financial, having expended substantial resources to buttress Maduro.”
Venezuela hands out passports to Iranians (and has Hezbollah (an Iranian supported Muslim terror Group) within its borders. An agreement between Venezuela and Iran was signed during a visit of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Tehran on October 19, 2010. The contract provided for the establishment of a jointly operated military base in Venezuela..
Maduro has defied Western pressure with the assistance of Cuban security forces, as well as Russian and Chinese support. Russia startled U.S. officials in December 2018 by sending to Venezuela for military exercises two bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons. It also dispatched about 100 members of the military to repair Maduro’s S-300 anti-aircraft missile defense system after a nationwide power outage.
Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, boasted that his air force could sink the U.S. Fourth Fleet in the Caribbean because it had received 24 Russian Sukhoi Su-30MK2 combat aircraft.
So, to sum up, Russia works with America’s enemies, and concessions to it are of dubious value. Trump, according to Bolton’s book, did privately float the thought of getting out of NATO entirely, and Biden in practice has been worse than Trump, signing an extension to the New Start nuclear weapons treaty without conditions that the Republicans had been pressing for. Wishful thinking – that Russia has been pressed to the wall and is acting reasonably given the circumstances, is dangerous. During the cold war with the Soviet Union, which was then Communist, Americans had apologists for it as well – and our president called Stalin, who turned out to be a mass murderer, “Uncle Joe”. Winston Churchill, who was prime minister of England during World War II, said of Russia in 1939 “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” Russia saw its national interest differently than we would have – it signed a treaty with Nazi Germany, and they both carved up Poland, among other developments.
Russia still acts like an enemy.