After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian population felt a great loss. This historically powerful and proud people had spent the last seventy years a superpower; now that was gone, replaced with shame and hardship as their economy collapsed and their geopolitical priorities were humiliated by the West around the world. The worst of these was the conflict in the Balkans, as the ethnic cleansing against Muslims in Bosnia by Serbs was halted with NATO bombing and the Serbs were forced into a peace agreement. The long-term Soviet ally’s leaders were hunted by the World Court for war crimes and in Russia’s eyes, unfairly prosecuted. Russians still bring up the fact that NATO acted alone, without Russia’s vote in the U.N. Security Council.
This shame continued for a decade with Russian President Boris Yeltsin routinely drunk and falling down at international events. The first Chechen war was a devastating defeat for the Russian armed forces and morale collapsed.
Then, enter stage right, Vladimir Putin.
Putin used the second conflict in Chechnya to convincingly put down the rebellion in his first brush with Islamic violence. He was not afraid to use brutality to win the conflict and re-establish Russian control over the primarily Muslim area.
As President for the next decade and a half, officially or not, Putin oversaw a vast increase in the average Russian’s standard of living. Millions of Russians were brought into the middle class. He is seen as a strong, effective leader who stands up for his country and his people, hence his sky-high domestic popularity ratings. The comment I hear most frequent in Moscow is, Russia is strong again. No one will mess with us now.
In Trump, Putin sees himself in many ways. He relates to Trump’s love of country, to his slogan of “making America great again.” He understands Trump’s brilliant assessment of the American peoples’ views and frustration at the United States being humiliated around the world–economically and geopolitically; its borders being overrun and its leadership complicit in an illegal immigrant invasion.
Putin, as well as tens of millions of Americans, doesn’t understand President Obama’s weakness, his obvious hatred of what his country stands for, its past success, and his intentional weakening of American power globally. He doesn’t respect Obama. I’m sure Putin wonders, “How could America elect someone like that? Twice?” That doesn’t stop Putin from taking advantage of Obama’s characteristics on the world stage, however.
Therefore, it is only natural that Putin would give heartfelt admiration for the gains Trump has made in the primary election process. It’s a simple voicing of respect for Trump’s campaign style and his priorities.
The problem for Trump is that Putin is also a dictator who has no problem rubbing out the opposition whether they live in Moscow or London. Putin is also rumored to be the richest man in the world, with upwards of $200 billion stashed around the globe, along with his other oligarch friends running the country. Obviously being president of Russia has its perks.
I find it humorous that the Left is now calling Trump a dictator when it is their President Obama who routinely abused his power and that of the federal government. Whether it be using the IRS and other agencies to target the political opposition, stoking racial tensions for political gain, or stonewalling other branches of government investigating executive branch corruption, the Obama administration has to be the most corrupt in U.S. history. We will not know how deep the rabbit hole goes until he is out of office. The Democrats’ leading presidential candidate is under investigation by the FBI for goodness sake, so it doesn’t look like another Democrat administration will change much.
Trump’s putting America first, securing our borders, and going after the enemies who want to kill us, is all well-and-good. America needs a strong leader. However, Trump has to be careful to separate these inclinations from the corruption and dictatorial tendencies of Vladimir Putin, or Barack Obama.