It’s a lonely world out there for President Trump, especially when he’s among European leaders. But there’s one great power that’s not judging him too harshly for pulling out of the Obama-negotiated landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement, and that was Vladimir Putin.
“I wouldn’t judge President Trump because maybe the acting president didn’t think they [the accords] were well thought out,” Putin said at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum on Euro News.
That is more or less what President Trump himself said at his announcement on Thursday in the White House Rose Garden.
“The Paris climate accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States, to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers, who I love, and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories and vastly diminished economic production,” the president said.
After what’s been widely blasted as a disastrous European tour in May, President Trump might be looking for some kind words. Angela Merkel, the powerful Chancellor of Germany and leader of Europe’s biggest economy, has frosty relations with Trump, and the new French president, Emmanuel Macron, recently engaged in what apparently was a very intentional handshake war with the American president; one that Macron confirmed was fraught with meaning.
This contrasts starkly with the warm welcome former President Obama received just days later in Germany.
Russia is also a participant in the Paris agreement. As of Friday morning, only Syria and Nicaragua had refused to join. They will now be joined by the United States.
Trump and Putin’s relationship has long been warmer than many Americans are comfortable with. Meanwhile, a Congressional investigation into the Russian hacking of the 2016 election has trained its sights on Jared Kushner, Trump’s powerful son-in-law, who is being investigated for possible links to the Russian government.
Trump campaigned on the promise of a relations reset with Putin and Russia, seeing Putin as a critical ally in the war against Sunni supremacist terrorism. Putin has deployed thousands of troops to Syria to prop up his tottering ally, Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting a civil war with factions that include Sunni supremacists. Trump also refused to condemn Putin’s invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014, something that caused considerable worry among America’s allies, especially the NATO Baltic states that feel directly threatened by Russian power.
But the relationship goes deeper than just international politics. Putin praised Trump as a “simple, direct person.” Some on Twitter saw that as a backhanded compliment for a president who has as a candidate had been slammed for talking like a 3rd grader.
"Vladimir Putin praises Donald Trump as simple, direct"— FixIt_Fitz (@fixit_fitz) June 2, 2017
They spelled insulted wrong. "simple" is not a compliment.https://t.co/3gXhQP6ryE
It’s not all roses between the two, however. In March, Trump bombed Putin’s ally, Bashar al-Assad, in Syria after Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. Later U.S. and Russian troops stared one another down in the Syrian town of Manbij while protecting their favorite proxies. On top of that, the United States recently tested an anti-ICBM defense system successfully; something that Putin sees as a direct threat to Russian power, which still relies heavily on its nuclear-armed forces.
That also comes along with revelations from a top U.S. general that the Russians are arming the anti-American Taliban in Afghanistan; something especially shocking considering the battlefield successes of the Taliban after 16 years of war. Trump has made no public comment on that.
Most analysts believe Putin wants to see the United States isolate itself as much as possible so Russia can take advantage of a power vacuum in Europe. Putin’s long believed the collapse of the Soviet Union was a geopolitical disaster, and many believe he seeks to restore Russian power to its USSR days.
[Featured Image By Dmitry Lovetsky/AP Photo]