You don't have to be a foreign policy expert to see how much Russian President Vladimir Putin is relishing the bomb Donald Trump has dropped into the global world order. Before meeting with seven countries who used to be the U.S.’s closest strategic allies, Trump's opening salvo Friday morning was to invite Russia back into the fold after it was excommunicated for annexing Crimea in 2014.
“Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run," Trump said, before boarding Marine One for the summit in Canada. "They should let Russia come back in,” Trump said of the G-7 group, which includes the U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.
Trump’s completely undeserved overture was especially striking given the fact that Putin has been poking his finger in Trump's eye all week. Some 24 hours earlier, Putin thumbed his nose at America's one-time staunchest allies, saying they should have known better that the U.S. would eventually betray them. The Washington Post writes:
With Trump’s new metals tariffs, Putin said, Europeans are now finally getting their comeuppance for showing excessive deference to Washington — and getting a taste of the way the United States had long treated Russia.
“In essence, these are sanctions,” Putin said of the tariffs. “What, did they ‘annex Crimea,’ as many of our partners say?”
Putin went on: “Our partners probably thought that these counterproductive policies would never affect them. . . . No one wanted to listen, and no one wanted to do anything to stop these tendencies. Here we are.”
Putin's reference to Crimea in the midst of his I-told-you-so snub was as notable as Trump's Friday invitation back into the erstwhile G-8 global alliance.
Exactly—why? Not to mention the fact that a Kremlin spokesperson immediately shrugged off the invitation.
“Russia is focused on other formats, apart from the G7,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a brief statement reported by the government-controlled Sputnik news agency.
In diplomacy speak, that's effectively: We don't need your stinkin' alliance, so you can stick it where the sun don't shine.
In the meantime, Putin is making the most of the U.S.'s escalating tensions with China over Trump's new tariffs. On Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping awarded Putin a "best friend" friendship medal at the outset of a weekend security summit between the two countries.
“No matter what fluctuations there are in the international situation, China and Russia have always firmly taken the development of relations as a priority,” Xi told Putin at the start of their formal talks.
As for Trump's lobbying efforts on behalf of Putin, it's the latest—but certainly not the only—sign that we've got "a big problem" as TPM's Josh Marshall put it.
If candidate Trump and President Putin had made a corrupt bargain which obligated President Trump to destabilize all U.S. security and trade alliances (especially NATO, which has been Russia’s primary strategic goal for 70 years) and advance the strategic interests of Russia, there’s really nothing more remotely realistic [Trump] could have done to accomplish that than what he has in fact done.
We don't just have a dictator for a pr*sident—we have a dictator who, for all practical purposes, is functioning as an agent of an adversarial foreign power.