Putin Has Already Got Most of What He Wanted from Trump

The West is divided. Assad no longer needs to go. The only thing left on Russia’s wish list is sanctions relief.

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras answers a question from a reporter in Moscow as Russian president Vladimir Putin looks on, April 8, 2015
Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras answers a question from a reporter in Moscow as Russian president Vladimir Putin looks on, April 8, 2015 (Presidential Press and Information Office)

Collusion or not, Vladimir Putin has already got most of what he wanted from Donald Trump.

As Rachel Maddow reported on MSNBC last night:

  • Russia wants the West divided, not united.
  • It wants to be recognized as an equal partner to the United States in the war in Syria.
  • It wants to keep Bashar Assad in power.
  • It seeks to defang American diplomacy.
  • And it wants back the “diplomatic” (spy) compounds in Maryland and Upstate New York the Obama Administration seized in retaliation for Russia’s attack on the 2016 election.

Trump has given Putin all this.

  • He has alienated America’s Canadian and European allies, disparaged the European Union and weakened NATO. At last week’s G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, Trump was isolated.
  • Unlike Barack Obama, the new president does not condition peace in Syria on Assad’s ouster.
  • He has failed to appoint dozens of diplomats and high-level State Department officials, effectively neutering American diplomacy.
  • And Trump has returned the aforementioned compounds to Russia.

The only thing he hasn’t done is lift sanctions, but this was reportedly one of the first things his administration looked into when it took office in January.

The president will soon have to decide whether to sign or veto a bill that keeps the sanctions in place.