From Russia with love

Donald Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin could threaten decades of U.S. foreign policy


The Donald Trump administration has an unusually close relationship with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, one that might threaten years of U.S. policy.

Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, is well known for his ties to Russia. Over his 10 years in control of the multinational oil and gas company, Tillerson cultivated strong ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In fact, John Hamre, a specialist in international studies, stated that Tillerson “has had more interactive time with Vladimir Putin than any other American.” Tillerson even received Russia’s “Order of Friendship” in 2013.

Since then, Putin has invaded Ukraine, allegedly murdered journalists critical of his regime, ordered airstrikes on Syrian hospitals, interfered with the U.S. election process, and shot down a commercial airliner carrying 298 civilians. There were no survivors. In addition, Tillerson refused to label Putin a war criminal during his congressional hearing, despite strong pressure from Marco Rubio to do so.

Trump has also mostly shown complete disregard for the American intelligence community consensus that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee. As a matter of fact, he only admitted for the first time on January 11 that Russia was even behind the cyberattack. He also placed limited blame on Vladimir Putin, admitting only that “he shouldn’t have done it. I don’t believe he will be doing it more.” Before that, Trump stated the hacker could have been “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.” Trump also spoke against sanctions ordered on Russian diplomats by President Obama.

Trump does not seem to think Russia is a danger. He has said that, if Putin likes him, “That’s called an asset, not a liability.” Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and once a potential pick for Secretary of State, has in the past called Putin “a leader,” unlike Barack Obama. This is not only wrong, it is dangerous. Positive relations with Russia could cause Trump to overlook the multitude of human rights violations Russia has committed. There is a difference between a diplomatic relationship and a friendship between the two nations.

Putin has sought better relations with the Trump administration as well. The hacks of the DNC appear to be specifically targeted on the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. During the 2016 presidential election, Trump took to praising the Putin regime. The hacks afterwards were clearly positioned to put Trump, the pro-Putin candidate, in the White House. Trump has been extremely reluctant to admit that the hacks helped his candidacy, stating on January 6 that the hacks had “absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.”

These actions are representative of a president-elect who will ignore decades of American foreign policy in favor of a journalist-killing, civilian-murdering, manipulating fascist leader. If there is no proper investigation done of the DNC hacking, Russia will face no consequence for infiltrating the election process. If Congress accepts Tillerson’s nomination, Putin will have an ally in the highest echelons of the American government. Congress has a responsibility to stop Trump from giving power to a man who has committed countless human rights violations and shows no remorse.