Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to see Donald Trump become the next president of the United States. To that end, Putin and his government have taken unprecedented steps to influence our electoral process to help the Republican Party’s nominee. Whether Russia’s interventions will succeed is not obvious. But it’s clear that Putin’s government has the motives — and the means — to try.
Putin has rational motives for wanting Trump to win: Trump champions many foreign policies that Putin supports. Trump’s most shocking, pro-Kremlin proposal is to “look into” recognition of Crimea as a part of Russia. President Obama and nearly every member of Congress — Republican and Democrat — have rejected that idea vigorously. Only Afghanistan, Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela have recognized Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Naturally, Putin would love to see the United States join that list.
Trump also has made clear his disdain for the United States’ alliances around the world. Demonstrating his misunderstanding of how NATO works, Trump has demanded that other NATO members essentially pay us for protection, making many of our allies, especially in the eastern part of Europe, nervous about his commitment to defend them.