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Vlad would be disappointed

When it became clear that Trump was winning the election, the Russian parliament (Duma) burst into loud applause. The Russian MPs took the triumph of The Donald as their own. And that's no surprise: the Kremlin openly declared its sympathies for Trump more than a year ago, when he was still considered an underdog. And now, after this lengthy campaign, the Russian elites are feeling validated, relieved, happy. Because it turns out Putin has bet on a winning card yet again.

As has been discussed here before, there are two main reasons for Russia's love for Trump. First, Russia hated Hillary in their guts, because all signs pointed to a possible hard-line US stance to Russia in case of a Clinton administration – on issues from Ukraine and Syria to human rights. Secondly, Russia was intrigued by the signals that Trump was sending on the campaign trail: he regularly spoke of warming up to Russia, and even hinted he could accept the annexation of Crimea. And this was quite something for Putin!

The Russian president was hoping (and probably still is) that Trump would forgive his sins in Crimea, and work for dropping the sanctions against Russia. This hope is reinforced by the impression that good business could be done with a fellow macho authoritarian like Trump, even some friendship could be started. After all, they're both on the same page in terms of their worldview. Or at least a similar page. Trump seems like something like a second Berlusconi, only much more powerful.

But let's think about this a bit more. Will Putin's calculations actually work? No one really knows how the political rookie will work in the White House. How much will he heed his advisors, will he respect his party, will he work with Congress and the Senate, will he hold his European partners in high or low a regard? The notion that exists in some heads in Moscow about the possible partnership between the two leaders sitting at the negotiation table and being put on an equal footing, splitting the world into new spheres of influence between themselves like in that Yalta meeting back in '45, might have some shortcomings, though.

Trump was elected president largely because of his promise to make America great again. This greatness goes through both domestic economic success and a global leadership role. Except, it's doubtful that he could deliver those jobs to his supporters in the Midwest that he wants to bring back from China and some other countries. One thing is for sure though: structural change tends to take a lot of time. Will Trump, success-hungry, and spoiled by a string of big victories, have the patience to wait for so long?

Granted, now he has a huge international stage at his disposal, where he could launch a series of impressive PR stunts and initiatives, and create some sense of power projecting from America – at least for a short while. And here's the problem. Let's remember who was the one who constantly questioned America's pretense for global leadership? Well, Vladimir Putin. His professed concept of a multipolar world where, in his view, Russia is again a global player, doesn't fit well into Trump's vision of America the greatest nation on Earth. This, of course, won't necessarily lead to a heavy conflict between the world's two biggest nuclear powers, as some are so hasty to predict. But the impulsive Trump could be tempted to shake up Putin in a demonstration of power, and the latter would then demonstratively attempt to stand in his way in response. Syria and ISIS are a good ground for testing each other's limits, for example. If this happens, the Russian dream of a Moscow-Washington power axis could soon evaporate. And we'll be back to square one, and the Reset turning into an Overcharge (according to that prophetic lost-in-translation incident) would be repeated once more.

But even if Trump remains true to his isolationist promises and takes it down a notch in terms of foreign policy, his domestic economic policy for America doesn't promise anything good for Russia. Because it would threaten a major source of income for them: the revenue from energy resources. The future POTUS is not particularly concerned with protecting the environment and countering climate change, and he's bound to heavily rely on fossils.

He could scrap some ecological standards to boost shale gas and fracking, aiming to create jobs and decrease the country's dependence on imports. Such a move would lead to another drop in the global oil prices. And the increased shale gas production, plus the spike of coal-based energy production, would allow the US to export a lot more liquid gas to Europe, which would hit Gazprom's revenue big time.

In short, the applause in the Duma looks rather premature. In reality, it's very likely that Putin will soon find out that The Donald's victory, just like Crimea, may look like a glorious tactical victory, but in fact is a devastating strategic defeat.

Source: Talk politics.

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