Nonetheless, pro-Russian (or at least anti-anti-Russian) arguments have become fairly common not just among conservatives but among a contingent of libertarians, such as former Rep. Ron Paul and Antiwar.com Editorial Director Justin Raimondo. The new Republican affection for Russia is largely a matter of political polarization: Since Putin is the Democrats’ boogeyman du jour, he can’t be all bad. But quite a few conservatives also genuinely see Putin’s Russia as a Christian ally against Islam, a perspective recently endorsed by Ann Coulter in a March column trollishly titled “Let’s Make Russia Our Sister Country.”
That view manages to ignore not only Russia’s coziness with Iran but the fact that one of Putin’s staunchest domestic allies, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, runs a de facto sharia state within the Russian Federation. This spring, Kadyrov was in the news for throwing gay men in prison camps and threatening a fatwa on Russian journalists who exposed the persecution.
Meanwhile, Ron Paul–style libertarians are inclined to see Russia as a check on U.S. foreign adventurism and Russia hawks as hardcore proponents of the American imperial leviathan. “Unfortunately, there is a small contingent who fall victim to the fallacy that ‘the enemy of the enemy is my friend,’ and if the Kremlin is the enemy of my enemy, then it must be my friend,” Palmer says.