International

Putin shadows American campaign field

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a meeting on the Russian armament program in Moscow, Russia, on Friday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a meeting on the Russian armament program in Moscow, Russia, on Friday.  

more-in

Democrats and media reports accuse Mr. Putin of hacking into the Democratic National Committee computer network and trying to influence the U.S. election, but Mr. Trump rejected this notion two days in a row.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s assessment President Vladimir Putin of Russia a better leader than President Barack Obama has set off new controversy. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton condemned Mr. Trump’s effusive praise for the Russian leader, while Republican Speaker Paul Ryan said Mr. Putin is an adversary of American values.

Mr. Trump’s admiration for Mr. Putin has been open, and has been based, among other things, a purported statement by the Russian President that he considered Mr. Trump a brilliant leader. It later turned out that the Russian word that Mr. Putin used is better translated as ‘colourful,’ than ‘brilliant.’ In an interview, Mr. Putin himself has said he meant ‘colourful.’ But Mr. Trump has run with the original misreporting, even embellishing it, claiming that Mr. Putin called him a ‘genius.’

“Well, I think when he calls me brilliant, I’ll take the compliment, OK?,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday, talking to military veterans. “…certainly, in that system, he’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader,” Mr. Trump said, comparing Mr. Putin to Mr. Obama. That is an “inarguable” point, said vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, supporting Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump’s stance on Russia and Mr. Putin is in stark contrast with the conventional Republican position. In 2012, GOP candidate Mitt Romney had called Russia, America’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe” and accused Mr. Obama of being soft towards it.

Relations with Russia remain a complicated territory of American foreign policy. The renewed American debate that personally drags Mr. Putin into the picture is taking place even as the Obama administration is in a frenetic effort to strike a deal with Russia on Syria. Just as Mr. Putin was the target of ire in America on Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry was flying to Geneva where he is meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. A U.S. State Department spokesperson said both countries had divergent views on multiple issues regarding the path forward in Syria, but hoped an agreement could be reached.

Mr. Trump is, however, unequivocal. “And, you know, the beautiful part of getting along, Russia wants to defeat ISIS as badly as we do. If we had a relationship with Russia, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could work on it together and knock the hell out of ISIS? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?” he said. “I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Putin.”

Democrats and media reports accuse Mr. Putin of hacking into the Democratic National Committee computer network and trying to influence the U.S. election, but Mr. Trump rejected this notion two days in a row. “Well, nobody knows that for a fact. But do you want me to start naming some of the things that President Obama does at the same time?,” he said on Wednesday. On Thursday, in an interview broadcast on a Russian government owned channel, Mr. Trump said: “I think it's probably unlikely. Maybe the Democrats are putting that out -- who knows…If they are doing something, I hope that somebody's going to be able to find out so they can end it. Because that would not be appropriate at all.”

"Bizarrely once again, he praised Russia's strongman, Vladimir Putin, even taking the astonishing step of suggesting that he preferred the Russian President to our American President. Now, that is not just unpatriotic and insulting, to the people of our country as well as to our commander in chief, it is scary. Because it suggests he will let Putin do whatever Putin wants to do and then make excuses for him,” Ms. Clinton said.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Dec 11, 2019 5:30:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/Putin-shadows-American-campaign-field/article14630941.ece

Next Story