Russian president Vladimir Putin might as well have been grinning like a Cheshire cat as he gave his annual foreign policy address to his nation today. He used the occasion to celebrate the fall of the United States as a moral exemplar for the world and the decline of America’s power and influence over other countries. Given that this was exactly the outcome that he had hoped to achieve through the Kremlin’s covert interference to help elect Donald Trump as president, Putin must have been extremely self-satisfied.
The Financial Times reported that the Russian leader ignored his country’s deteriorating relations with the Western world going back to its annexation of Crimea and fomenting war in Eastern Ukraine, to its support for Syrian President Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own citizens, to its poisoning of dissidents on foreign soil, to its persistent attempts to influence outside elections through devious social media manipulation.
Instead, Putin focused on Russia’s warming relationship with countries in Asia and the Middle East, touted his nation’s new hypersonic nuclear missiles as the world’s best, and praised the end of a world dominated by a single superpower as an opportunity for Russia.
“Empires often think they can make some little mistakes . . . because they’re so powerful,” he said. “But when the number of these mistakes keeps growing, it reaches a level they cannot sustain.”
“A country can get the sense from impunity that you can do anything,” Putin told an audience at a ski resort close to the southern city of Sochi. “This is the result of the monopoly from a unipolar world . . . Luckily this monopoly is disappearing. It’s almost done.”
Putin tipped his hand by praising President Trump for working to restore U.S. relations with the Kremlin while condemning the U.S., mischaracterizing Russia’s tactics along the way.
“Building up tension and hysteria is not our way . . . We are not creating problems for anyone,” Putin said. “I hope we can build dialogue.”
“It’s better to talk, to have a conversation, than to be like cats and dogs that keep fighting each other,” he said.
Whatever Putin had to spend to obtain the Kompromat he must surely have on Trump to control him so thoroughly, he must consider it a bargain, given how much his investment has paid off. Until Trump can convince his Republican-controlled Congress to withdraw the punishing sanctions against Russian companies and the oligarchs who control them, however, you can expect Putin to maintain his anti-American propaganda fusillade.
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