Russian President Vladimir Putin is “pleased” with Donald Trump’s successful campaign and rise to become the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, but veteran U.S. diplomats are not so sure if his call to improve relations with the Communist leader is such a good idea.
“There’s a mythology about foreign policy that it’s just like deal-making in the business world, and if you don’t like ‘the deal,’ you can just walk away,” Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia under Obama and a vocal Trump critic, told The Wall Street Journal. “In foreign policy, you can’t walk away. It can come back to bite you. It can create vacuums.”
Putin was praising Trump in a gesture that raised eyebrows in the United States and worldwide, Putin said that the New Yorker “says he wants to move to another level of relations, to closer and deeper relations with Russia — how can we not welcome that? Of course, we welcome it.”
Trump’s friendly words, though, come at a time, when the west sees Putin as trying to spread its influence, including with the annexation of Crimea. In addition, Washington opposes Putin’s backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad,
The Obama administration has tried to reset its relationship with Russia, but conservative foreign policy experts say they don’t always agree with Trump, even if they do think it’s time to thaw the dealings between the two countries.
“What we have now in the dynamics between Putin and Obama is very unhelpful,” Dimitri Simes, president of the Center for the National Interest, which hosted Trump’s foreign-policy last month, told The Wall Street Journal.
Russia, said Trump, will “respect us, and I’ve had a sort of a semi-nice relationship with Putin.”
Trump’s opinion on Putin were far different from those of his rivals, with Democratic front-runner calling him a “bully” and Sen. Marco Rubio, before he dropped from the presidential race, said Putin is a “gangster and a thug.”
But Trump, after Putin praised him, called the Russian leader “very bright” and a “strong leader.”
“I believe an easing of tensions, and improved relations with Russia — from a position of strength only — is possible, absolutely possible,” Trump said at his foreign-policy speech, in April. “Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out.”
But on that same day, Trump met with Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, at a VIP reception along with three other foreign ambassadors.
Trump has also met with positive approval from Russia after suggesting the member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization shift their focus to fighting terrorism instead of Russia, leaving Ukrainian and Baltics officials concerned that they would be left unprotected.