Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to see Donald Trump become the next president of the United States. To that end, Putin and his government have taken unprecedented steps to influence our electoral process to help the Republican Party's nominee. Whether Russia's interventions will succeed is not obvious. But it's clear that Putin's government has the motives — and the means — to try.
Putin has rational motives for wanting Trump to win: Trump champions many foreign policies that Putin supports. Trump's most shocking, pro-Kremlin proposal is to "look into" recognition of Crimea as a part of Russia. President Barack Obama and nearly every member of Congress — Republican and Democrat — have rejected that idea vigorously. Only Afghanistan, Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela have recognized Russia's annexation of Crimea. Naturally, Putin would love to see the United States join that list.
U.S. electoral experts, not me, must judge whether Russian efforts will sway the elections this fall. From my amateur armchair, the tactics seem crude and counterproductive. Does Sputnik tweeting #CrookedHillary really win over any undecided voters? I hope not, but I don't know. What I do know is that Secretary Clinton could well become President Clinton on Jan. 20, 2017. Russian officials — from Putin to the person running the Sputnik Twitter account — might want to start thinking about what they plan to do then, and stop playing around with our electoral process now.
Washington PostEurope Russia Donald Trump Vladimir Putin Hillary Clinton Barack Obama Bashar Assad