Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
18th January, 2016
Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin, has often been the cause for heated debates among the presidential candidates in the United States. Some observers seriously say that the winner of the upcoming election the United States has become Putin. This phenomenon appeared as a result of the policy of outgoing President Barack Obama.
The Presidential campaign in U.S. has gained momentum. During the debates the tension has grown to boiling point. The candidates for President speak on a wide range of issues. And every time one way or another it comes down to Russia.
A few words about Russia
On the eve of the debate, presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is currently the undisputed favourite in the presidential election campaign for the Democrats. She has described her relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin as “interesting” and “respectful”.
“We had very difficult moments of communication with each other,” she said. “Now we know that he, to put it mildly, has a mixed track record… And we need to understand how to deal with him. I know he’s someone you need to defend,” admitted Clinton, comparing Putin to a “badass that can take as much as you can give, until you start to agree”.
She noted that she was glad for the European sanctions against Russia because of the events in Crimea and Donbass. “We should be together and not let the fact that Putin took a more aggressive stance in Europe and the Middle East”, said the candidate.
Earlier, Clinton made a joke about the ability of Putin to be re-elected for a new term. “Putin has not many qualities that cause my admiration, but the fact that he can stand up and say, “I’ll be your next President” is sexy,” joked former us Secretary of State last fall.
Following this statement, Clinton had promised to exert additional pressure on Russia if she is elected President.
Another challenger from the Democrats, Bernie Sanders, in the same debate expressed the need to re-think the priorities in the field of defence and to spend more money on combating global terrorism, and not on “the Russian factor”. “Unfortunately, most of our (defense) budget remains devoted to the cold war with the Soviet Union. A very small part of the budget, less than 10%, goes to the fight against “Islamic State” and international terrorism,” he said.
Republicans about Putin: From love to hate
The Democrats talk about Putin and Russia on almost every televised debate. There is a similar situation in the Republican party, who talk and argue about Russia no less. The most popular candidate from the “elephants” is billionaire Donald trump, who strongly supports Putin. Although on Russia he is not the only one to say this. At the end of last week, the former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush stated that Russia and China defend their interests more successfully than the United States. “I don’t understand why the President believes that everything is going well. The terrorists are going unpunished, China and Russia promote their interests at the speed of light, and we are behind them,” Bush said.
In mid-December, Bush criticized trump for his sympathy for Putin. According to Bush, the Russian leader seeks to challenge US on a global scale. “We (USA) are losing our influence in the world, and Putin, on the contrary, it increases. He is not our ally,” said the former Governor, calling Putin “a bully,” adding that he believes a show of force is the best way to confront Russia in the international arena.
Recall that in mid-December, Trump called Putin a real leader unlike the current leadership of the United States. “He (the President) is running the country, at least he’s a leader, unlike what is available in our country,” said Trump.
He admitted that he was flattered by the feedback that was given to him from journalists in Moscow, the head of the Russian state. “It (the praise) is always good, especially if comes from a man who leads Russia”, – said the politician. Putin called trump a talented and “very bright man, no doubt”. “It’s not our business to determine his rank, but he is the absolute leader of the presidential race… he says he wants to move to a different level of relations – a more dense, deep – with Russia, how can we not welcome it? Naturally, we welcome that”.
Great attention has been given to Russia in connection with the election and in the media. Fox News columnist called Putin the winner in the upcoming U.S. elections. “Putin is sure that the next American President who will take office in January 2017, will help to make Russia great again,” wrote the author.
According to him, the United States currently is successful in leaving the world stage. But the statements of the leading candidates from both parties indicate that they appear to move in this direction. “And it was at this point Putin enters the game, after all, while withdrawal from the world stage will cost US, for the Russian President it will be a windfall,” says the columnist.
Speaking of candidates in US presidents, the author noted that the statements of the majority of them put Russia in pole position.
The Washington Post believes that neither trump nor Clinton are not fit to “put Russia in its place.” The columnist wrote that among all of the strategic errors of the Obama administration, U.S. policy towards Russia has the biggest concerns. “After we gave Vladimir Putin a piece of Europe and the Middle East, he ceased to fear that his aggression will be stopped,” says the publication, adding that the next American President must possess sufficient strength and dexterity to “put Putin on the spot.”
Blaming Russia is not fashionable
A political scientist in American studies, Dmitry Drobnitsky, in a conversation with the newspaper ‘VZ’ noted that Russia and Vladimir Putin, in the pre-election debate of candidates in US presidents, is not too big, but noticeable. Perhaps, after the issues of the US economy and ISIS related topics, are relations with Russia and the role of Putin.
“Russia and Vladimir Putin since 2012 occupy a prominent place among the American debates of all the presidential candidates in the United States. There are people who are willing to agree with him, and there are definitely those who are against dialogue with Moscow. Earlier the theme of Russia was used as a residual, but now it has taken a more prominent role. Overall, however, international issues are not the most important in the debate of candidates in US presidents. Most importantly for American voters is the economy. It will choose the President of the United States,” said the analyst. It is noted that the rigid and irreconcilable position in relation to Russia is considered outdated and unfashionable, as described by columnist Fox News channel’s Sean Douglas.
“The members of the Democratic party are not ready to deal with Vladimir Putin, Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley are quite prepared to approach it, but their ratings leave much to be desired. Hillary Clinton is almost 100% to win the primaries,” said the expert.
“Among the members of the Republican party is Donald trump, who is a supporter of dialogue with Moscow. He believes that the lack of normal U.S. relations with Russia is a personal fault and error of Barack Obama. Trump is sure that he, as a strong man, would be able to agree with another strong man. Second in the ranking is Ted Cruz, who is ready to talk with Putin, but with great reservations. He poses as a hawkish pragmatic. The neo-conservative Marco Rubio is ready to fight Putin to the end. He wants to establish a no-fly zone wherever possible, and to strengthen sanctions against Moscow”, said the analyst.