Russia is not only trying to reassert itself in Eastern Europe, it has found ways to reassert itself in American politics.
I hate to agree with 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, but he was correct in his assertion that Russia is the biggest geopolitical foe the U.S. has. Flashback to the third presidential debate between Obama and Russia from 2012:
Members of both parties have cozied up to the Kremlin over the decades. The majority of the Democrat Party has been reluctant to condemn Soviet crimes, but apparently voiced their disdain for Vladimir Putin at their convention in Philadelphia last week. (What took them so long? Smells like opportunism to me.) Some Republican lawmakers have sung the praises of Putin given his apparent “strength” and machismo-including the current *Republican nominee for president.
Let’s see where the top candidates for president stand on Russia, according to their past actions or affiliations:
Donald Trump certainly desires to be a American oligarch in the image of Putin, but with far less brutality. He recently joked that Russia should reveal all 33,000 emails belonging to Hillary Clinton. Of the two candidates, Trump appears more pro-Kremlin than Clinton. (More on her Russian dealings later.) His key advisors are Putin stooges who’ve meddled in Ukraine’s elections to help elect pro-Kremlin politicians like Viktor F. Yanukovich to power. Trump also said that those in Crimea already feel Russian so no need to give control back to Ukraine–which he backtracked this week. Trump said if he’s president, Crimea won’t be invaded by Russia–although Russia invaded and usurped it from under Ukraine’s nose in 2014. Here are his full remarks on Crimea and Russia:
“He’s not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want.”
…“I’m going to take a look at it,” he said. “But you know, the people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were. And you have to look at that, also … just so you understand, that was done under Obama’s administration.”
Hillary Clinton is no saint with respect to Russia either. She helped orchestrate the failed Russian “reset” deal with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in 2009. She handed him a button assuming it read “reset” but it actually translated to “overcharge.” Watch the exchange below:
And more incriminating? Mrs. Clinton and her husband Bill Clinton raked in $145 million for their Clinton Foundation in the controversial Russian uranium deal. Below are the full details on the shady deal:
At the heart of the tale are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One.
Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.
And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.
During her stint as Secretary of State, Clinton also pledged billions of American dollars in the “creation of a Russian “Silicon Valley” whose technological innovations include Russian hypersonic cruise-missile engines, radar surveillance equipment, and vehicles capable of delivering airborne Russian troops,” writes Peter Schweizer. Scary.
Both candidates have made troubling statements or awful gestures that have emboldened Russia militarily, financially, or morally to some degree. Although American interests should come first, it’s imperative to be aware of Russia’s influence – however direct or indirect – on American electoral politics.