When Donald Trump talks about his desire to have good relations between the U.S. and Russia, it’s not a recent attraction. Trump’s attempts to expand his business and his brand there date back decades, and this history casts a shadow over his pro-Russian foreign policy. As a presidential candidate, he courts Putin’s favor, extending the charm offensive intended to build the Trump real-estate empire.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if actually we could get along with Russia?” Trump asked at a recent Republican presidential debate. It’s a line he’s used in rallies as well. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have exchanged praise and Trump said he “would probably get along with him very well.”
Trump’s attraction to Russia seems to be mutual. There is a Russian-language website that collects Trump news and offers sales of Trump books and products. There’s even a Trump 2016 Russian language mock campaign site.
What Trump rarely talks about is his decades-long effort to do business in the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia. Good U.S.-Russian relations are potentially very lucrative for the Trump Organization. The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.