Before winning the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump frequently claimed that other countries around the world, particularly America’s economic and military adversaries, were “laughing” at the United States. In fact, prior to the election, The Washington Post compiled a list of 103 instances, going as far back as 1987, in which Trump claimed that another country, or simply “the world,” was “laughing at us.”
Whether those countries were actually “laughing” at the U.S. or not is uncertain, but over the past days, one country has definitely been laughing at the U.S. — Russia. Judging by the news and political broadcasts on the country’s state television — as documented by journalist Julia Davis, who monitors Russian television via her Twitter feed — Trump’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, leaving the large Russian military force there to take free reign over the civil war-torn country, has provoked celebrations and gloating in Russia — even leading one commentator to ridicule Americans as “losers.”
Russian TV political commentator Olga Skabeeva, speaking on a Russian program titled 60 Minutes, said that Trump’s Syria withdrawal proves that Americans are “losers, since Putin has defeated them in every way.” Davis reported Russian media reactions to Trump’s announcement for The Daily Beast.
Skabeeva’s co-host then replied, “Trump is ours again — what are you going to do?” Skabeeva also said that by pulling troops out of Syria, Trump has proven that he is “beholden to Putin,” Davis reported, a reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Discussing the planned departure of the U.S. from Syria, state TV host Olga Skabeeva pondered why Trump suddenly decided to leave at this point in time: “Americans say, it’s because he is beholden to Putin. Is that logical? Yes, it is.”https://t.co/mGZ4lSv1si pic.twitter.com/Zhk9V6f1So— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) December 22, 2018
The Russian commentators also delighted in the fact that Trump’s Syria pullout sparked the resignation in protest of widely-respected Defense Secretary James Mattis, as The Washington Post reported.
“It seems to Americans that we won on every front,” added the 60 Minutes co-host, Evgeny Popov, per Davis’s translation. “The U.S. Secretary of Defense has been removed, we unquestionably secured a complete, unconditional victory in Syria.”
Though Trump has claimed that Putin is “not happy” that the U.S. is departing Syria, according to MSNBC, Putin himself contradicted Trump’s claims when he spoke at his annual press conference.
Putin called Trump’s decision the “correct” one, according to a New York Times report, and Russia’s TV political commentators agreed.
“It is really good news for Putin,” said Konstantin von Eggert, Russian TV pundit, quoted by The Times. “Putin’s main goal from Day One of his intervention was to establish himself as the global authority to prevent regime change. In this he has succeeded.”
With Trump seeming to do Putin’s will by pulling troops out of Syria, the Russian leader appeared emboldened, as he also criticized the U.S. military presence in Japan, which has been in place since the conclusion of World War II in 1945, according to a Reuters account of Putin’s press conference.