In a crazy political year, its one of the crazier questions out there: Is the hard-line leader of Americas historic enemy trying to get Republican candidate Donald Trump elected president? Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have exchanged compliments and suggested their two countries could become closer allies if Trump is elected. Some Democrats are warning that Putin is actually trying to influence the election in Trumps favor. Now Trump is pretty much urging Russia to do just that.
1. What have Trump and Putin said about each other?
Putin praised Trump as talented and colorful. (One thing Putin didnt call Trump is “a genius,” as Trump has repeatedly claimed.) Trump called Putin “a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.” Trump also said, “You know, he feels good about me. I feel, frankly, good about him.” Trump says Russia and the U.S. should work more closely together. “Wouldnt it be nice if like Russia and us could knock out an enemy together, not us bear the full cost sometime?” Trump said at a campaign rally in December.
2. Have they ever met?
Apparently not, despite Trumps hints to that effect. In a 2013 tweet, Trump wondered if Putin might join him at a beauty pageant in Moscow and “become my new best friend.” Though Putin didnt show, an associate of his, Vladimir Kozhin, did, and met with Trump.
3. Why does this matter?
Though the Cold War is over, that face-off between the U.S. and the Soviet Union still frames much of the worlds military posture. Thats why Trumps suggestion that he might not deploy the U.S. military if Russia attacked a fellow member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization caused alarm throughout eastern Europe and drew condemnation even from Republicans. The suspected involvement of Russia in hacking and leaking e-mails and internal reports from the Democratic National Committee raises the equally alarming prospect that Russia is trying to meddle in an American election.
4. Was Russia really involved in the e-mail hacking?
5. What other ties are there?
Trumps campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, worked for Viktor Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine, who was ousted from office in 2014 because of his closeness to Putins Russia. Carter Page, an investment banker who is advising Trump on foreign policy, built a career on deals with Russia and its state-run gas company.
The Reference Shelf
- QuickTake explainers on cooling U.S.-Russia relations, Putins popularity at home and Ukraines struggles.
- A story on the investigation into the e-mail hacking.
- A column on how Trump could trigger a war with Russia.
- President Barack Obama doesnt think much of Trumps global savvy.
Read more: www.bloomberg.com