12072019What's Hot:

For Russia and Putin, a Surprise Gift From America

If Europe was important, however, finding the means to sow doubt and insecurity about the political system in the United States, the last remaining superpower, was the big prize.

Television has been relentless in trying to paint the American system as flawed, suggesting that the process was not better than that in Russia. One prominent Russian politician even joked about it before the votes came in.

Gennady A. Zyuganov, the longstanding leader of the Communist Party, said that Mrs. Clinton was smart but not good for the country. “If Americans will vote honestly, I think Trump will make it, but if they will vote like here, then Hillary will win,” he said.

If the Cold War was rooted in ideological differences, the new Russian goal is to show that all political systems are equally bad. Also by interfering in conflicts like those in Ukraine and Syria, Mr. Putin has sought to reassert Russia’s role as a global power to be reckoned with.

Dmitry Kiselyev, the most prominent anchor on state television, called the United States election campaign the dirtiest in that country’s history, saying it provoked “disgust” toward what is somehow still called democracy. He also said that whoever was elected would not be legitimate and would face constant legal challenges.

As voting started, Margarita Simonyan, the head of the English-language RT satellite television network and a former high school exchange student in New Hampshire, posted on Twitter, “Democracy. R.I.P.”

More directly, senior security officials in Washington linked Russia to hacking attacks at the Democratic Party headquarters that led to leaked emails in October that proved embarrassing to the Clinton campaign.

Mr. Trump encouraged Russia to disclose more of Mrs. Clinton’s emails, leading her to accuse him of being a “Russian puppet.” Mr. Trump, in the last debate, shot back, “Not a puppet, not a puppet.”

Mr. Putin denied any direct state role in the leaks, saying that the American news media should pay attention to the content, not the source. Still, he gloated that Russia was front and center in the campaign, no longer ignored.

“Today, the No. 1 problem in the entire election campaign is Russia. It is the main talking point,” Mr. Putin told a group of mostly foreign Russia experts in October.

“That is very welcome of course, but only partially,” he continued. “Why partially? Because all participants in this process are abusing anti-Russian rhetoric and spoiling our interstate relations. And this is bad both for our countries and for the entire international community.”

As the results began to hint at a Trump victory, his Russian supporters could not quite believe it. “Operation Unthinkable. World history has changed its course,” Egor Kholmogorov, an outspoken nationalist, wrote on his Facebook page.

Of course, various more sober policy analysts were sanguine about whether Mr. Trump’s positive statements about Russia would result in improved ties and perhaps easing some economic sanctions imposed after the annexation of Crimea and the destabilization of Ukraine.

“I don’t think we should exaggerate the importance of the kind words that Trump has said about the Russian leadership,” Aleksei Arabatov, an international relations expert, said in an interview on Echo of Moscow radio station. “He said good things at the beginning, he said bad things, and now he said that he doesn’t know. This is a man who adjusts himself to the circumstances and to the public he speaks in front of.”

Source: NYT > World

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