Is the Trump-Putin bromance coming to a screeching end? Certainly, Donald Trump’s recent embrace of China – not to mention China’s leader – at his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort appeared to change Trump’s view of China. As reported by The Hill, Trump has seemed to distance himself from Russia in many different areas, suggesting that Trump and Putin aren’t the pals they apparently used to be.
Fickle Donald Trump
Putin shouldn’t be surprised to learn that Donald Trump tends to shift his positions on a regular basis, and those shifts usually conform to whichever way the political wind happens to be blowing. And given the ongoing investigations into Trump’s administration ties to Russia – being carried out by both the Senate and the House of Representatives – it’s hardly a revelation that the Trump White House might want to distance itself a bit from Vladimir Putin.
Certainly the months of never-ending praise that Donald Trump heaped on Vladimir Putin during the 2016 election campaign is something the Trump administration no doubt thinks is better forgotten. Especially now that Trump is in the White House and facing potential impeachment charges should evidence be found that he in any way colluded with the Russians to tilt the election in his favor.
Suddenly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – who used to be the head of Exxon and actually received a medal from Vladimir Putin – has been forced to take a hard line with Russia on any number of issues. Instead of cooperatively working with the Russians on Syria for instance, the Trump administration chose to drop bombs on the Syrian Air Force following Syria’s chemical weapons attack on civilians there.
All of this couldn’t have been an easy pill for Tillerson himself to swallow, given the impact that it would have on Exxon’s business relations with Russia. For instance, the idea of lifting the sanctions on an oil deal between Russia and Exxon has pretty much gone out the window. The administration denied an Exxon request for a waiver for just such a deal this week.
Russians Respond in Kind
The Trump Putin relationship – which has been of considerable concern to many Americans – is cooling off on both sides. The Russians of late have been heavily critical of American activities in the Middle East, the Korean Peninsula, and elsewhere.
Multiple close flybys of American vessels and even the American coast have occurred in recent weeks. Russian bombers have – over the last few days – made barely legal but extremely close flybys of the Alaskan coastline. Having nuclear capable bombers in the air playing chicken with American fighter jets likely isn’t what Putin was hoping for from a Trump administration.
As noted by the Asia Times, Russia is also mobilizing forces close to its border with North Korea on the off chance that the United States under Donald Trump follows through on Trump’s threats to deal with the North Korean element of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Trump has suggested that if Chinese negotiators are unable to convince the North Koreans to back down, he’ll order unilateral military action.
Given the fact that North Korea borders both China and Russia, it’s easy to see where the situation could easily get out of hand – regardless of any lingering Trump Putin bromance. With the United States, Russian, Chinese, North Korean, and South Korean militaries all on high alert and mobilizing additional forces in the region, Donald Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin – and whether it’s gone sour – could actually help decide just how bad the current military situation on the Korean Peninsula could become. Worse for Putin and Russia, the Trump administration may decide that China could be a much more useful ally in dealing with rogue nations like North Korea.
[Featured Image by Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Images]