“I think NATO is obsolete,” Trump told ABC News on Saturday. “NATO was done at a time you had the Soviet Union, which was obviously larger — much larger than Russia is today.”
“There is no such thing as a former KGB man.” – Vladimir Putin
Oh really, Donald?
Quick primer – in case you don’t know why NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was formed:
NATO was formed in 1949, in short, to keep the Soviet Union in check. The chart, above, shows a decade’s worth of Russian military spending, up to the last Presidential election. Within that timeframe, now-President, ex-KGB, and USSR loyalist Vladimir Putin has grown in the ranks from Director of Federal Security Service (starting in 1998), to President of the Russian Federation. Within that timeframe, Putin, whose nostalgia for the old USSR is evident (while claiming not to re-assemble the old Eastern Bloc), expanded Russian influence and borders into Georgia, Crimea and the greater part of eastern Ukraine – all a part of his ideology within his own doctrine that he has the right to protect ethnic Russians at any cost.
This includes the territories of Kazahkstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Turmenistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Lithuanua, and even Poland. For those of you who aced world history, you will recognize this as a greater chunk of the former Soviet Union and/or Eastern Bloc expansion (and the Eastern Bloc didn’t stop there). Putin, in theory, has a legitimate claim of loyalty to aiding ethnic Russians in these territories – if for nothing more than loyalty to the motherland, but the loyalist (nationalist) claim and right is a basic loophole around rebuilding the former Eastern Bloc, and history has shown he is willing to do this.
NATO’s expansion follows a similar, west-to-east, expansion of allied forces to include countries like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and planned expansion of other former Soviet states and territories within the rival Warsaw Pact (formed as the eastern answer to NATO). Additionally, the European Union expansion in these same territories have somewhat pitted the EU against expansion of the Russian Federation. This was seen clearly in 2014, when negotiations with Ukraine entering the EU fell apart, and Putin’s Russia answered back with a territorial expansion of influence into both Crimea and eastern Ukraine – all in the name of protecting the sovereignty of ethnic Russians in the country.
We can also give a primer on the creation of the EU, in short, as a secondary means of protection against the expansion of Soviet Russia and the spread of communism. The EU also seems to be a union of disdain for Trump – given not only his anti-EU statements as well as his support for Brexit – which also increases the Federation’s admiration of Trump. Both NATO and the EU are a thorn in the side of Putin’s Russia, both in expansion and trade, so there should be zero questions as to why Putin would speak fondly of Trump as well as endorse Trump’s Presidential campaign. A Western anti-EU Presidential nominee who cheers the possible first step in the dissolution of the EU, as well as taking an anti-NATO stance, who both believes NATO is obselete and that some countries should be left to deal with Russia?
That’s a Putin dream come true.
So we now know why Russia and Putin have built a loyalty to a potential Trump Presidency. Trump is anti-EU, anti-NATO, and has made comments that sometimes sympathize with Russia’s That’s not necessarily to say that Trump is willfully building a pro-Russia foreign policy platform (although his adoration of Putin as a leader should make one pause and question such a platform), but there are other factors that need to be examined within the Trump Campaign and the Russian government. These factors include investment deals, authoritarian stance, as well as his own campaign hirings (Paul Manafort). There are a lot of muddy waters within Trump’s history and present campaign that signal sympathy toward the Russian Federation, and we’ll discuss that in the next chapter.