Trump's warming to Russia raises questions about 'America First' pledge
Donald Trump is not a Russian agent, nor has he committed treason by asking Moscow to release Clinton's deleted emails, nor has he broken any laws in doing business with at least one Russian oligarch.
But Trump's suggestion that he would consider recognizing Moscow's illegal annexation of Crimea as well as lifting sanctions imposed as result of Russia's war in Ukraine raises legitimate questions about whether he really would follow an "America First" policy in dealings with foreign governments.
The Russian government is looking favorably on Trump's comments.
Russian state media covered Trump’s statement with responses from officials who said that it reflects a growing desire among Americans for better relations with Russia.
Russian lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev wrote on Facebook that Trump’s comments in favor of improving ties with Russia indicate that “similar sentiment is becoming more and more popular in US, and it can bring political points.”
“Trump has repeatedly proven that he, like no one else, understands the public’s demand for a change in course, and the attitudes of a large part of voters who have grown tired of the Clintons and the Bushes,” Kosachev wrote, according to Russia’s state-run TASS news agency.
“Only time will tell whether Trump is ready or, which is no less important, capable of implementing this,” he added. “It is definitely too early to celebrate.”
Sergey Aksyonov, the Russian separatist who now serves as leader of the Crimean Peninsula, responded similarly to Trump’s remarks.
“Trump says only what his voters want to hear. This means there is a desire to improve ties with Russia in American society,” Aksyonov wrote, noting that it remains unclear “how he will behave if he wins the election.”
“The Crimean people don’t need recognition from Western leaders. We have made our choice once and for all,” Aksyonov wrote. “If part of the US political establishment, such as Trump, is ready to recognize the reality, we can only welcome this.”
The Kremlin’s official reaction to the comment was more muted. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov toldreporters Thursday that the government’s attitude toward Trump had not changed as a result of the admission.
“It seems impossible to draw conclusions on the basis of pre-election rhetoric,” Peskov said. “We know perfectly well that candidates say one thing in the heat of election campaign but later after taking office and under a burden of responsibility, the rhetoric changes, becoming more balanced.”
Rohac told the Free Beacon that legitimizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea would undermine the United Nations resolution condemning the aggression and align the United States with North Korea, Syria, and other repressive nations that have deemed it legal.
Improving Russia-U.S. ties is solely up to the Russian government. They are the aggressors. They are the violators of international law and order. How can Trump claim to be a super-negotiator if he's willing to give Russia what they want in Crimea without receiving anything in return for the United States?
"Improved relations"? A rather nebulous return for giving the Russians concrete concessions. Besides, recognizing Russian aggression in Crimea will only embolden Putin to flex his muscles in the Baltic and Eastern Europe. Would Trump recognize a Russian takeover of Lithuania in the name of "improving relations"?
Trump may admire Putin. But he doesn't have to damage U.S. security to show it.