Russia: Second thoughts on celebrating Trump
We can put away the champagne now, said Maxim Trudolyubov in Vedomosti. President Trump is apparently not going to be the Russia-friendly, sanctions-lifting U.S. leader that so many Russians had expected. Ever since Trump was forced to dump his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, over alleged improper contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., the Trump administration has lurched into anti-Russian overdrive. Over the past week, administration officials have accused Russia of interfering in Western elections, urged NATO to ramp up defense spending, and even demanded that Russia return Crimea to Ukraine. Obviously, Trump is under tremendous pressure “to appear tough on Russia.” At this point, it’s “hard to imagine the president has any flexibility” in negotiations, as his every move will be “under a microscope.”
Russians winced as they watched the “painful and depressing spectacle” of Trump’s recent press conference, said Mikhail Rostovsky in Moskovsky Komsomolets. Trump’s wild statements were met by hostile press questions in what looked like “female mud wrestling, that popular, no-holds-barred American entertainment.” Alas, it wasn’t amusing. It’s quite obvious that President Trump, who “seemed like a breath of fresh air for Russian-American relations,” is a figurehead with no real power. His railing against “fake news” is “a recognition of his own impotence, his inability to change anything.” The powerful business and defense lobbies control Russia policy in the U.S.— not the president.
Now that Trump has been revealed to be so ineffectual, the “bromance is over” between him and President Vladimir Putin, said Ivan Tsvetkov in Russia-Direct.org. Rumor has it that the Kremlin recently ordered state TV to “stop kowtowing to Trump.” That’s bad news for ordinary Russians. The Kremlin had been exploiting the obsession with Trump, making the U.S. president the main news topic, to “distract Russians from current day-to-day and economic problems and bring more drama into their lives.” What will fill that void now? Some experts fear the Kremlin may invent “a new short victorious war.” It could even ratchet up tensions with NATO in order to “reinvigorate the ‘besieged fortress’ narrative” ahead of Russia’s 2018 presidential election. And that would be “extremely dangerous, for the entire international security system.”
The West’s growing sense of insecurity heightens those risks, said Fyodor Lukyanov in Rossiyskaya Gazeta. In contrast to the smugness of the Obama years, the Americans under Trump are in a “period of self-doubt.” They are “in a panic” over alleged Russian intervention in their elections, and their fear has infested Western European countries that have upcoming elections, notably France and Germany. People across the West point to a strange cocktail of hackers, trolls, Russia’s English-language RT TV channel, and so-called fake news—“a new name for disinformation”— as proof of Russia’s supposed omnipotence. At the same time, they portray their own societies as “totally defenseless and vulnerable.” Will Trump, with his fragile ego, overcompensate? This unpredictability is dangerous for us all. ■