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Trump’s Curious Relationship with Russia: From 1987 to Present

Donald Trump (Credits: The New York Times)

Anne Applebaum, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, recently penned a striking observation: “Donald Trump, who is not the president, is using a minority of Republicans to hand a victory to Russia, and to weaken American power and credibility.” It’s a puzzling assertion, isn’t it?

As we find ourselves at this juncture, with Trump clinching his third Republican presidential nomination, it’s easy to dismiss his unconventional stance on U.S. defensive alliances and the integrity of American institutions. His fixation on a “rigged election” and “American carnage” is well-documented, but what lies beneath these sentiments?

What if we pause to reconsider the genesis of Trump’s views with more gravity? When did he first articulate the ideas that culminated in his recent suggestion that Russia should have free rein over our supposed non-paying allies?

Trump (Credits:

Many may recall Trump’s bold proclamation in September 1987, when he took out full-page ads lambasting U.S. allies for their perceived reluctance to contribute to our common defense.

“Why are these nations not paying the United States for the human lives and billions of dollars we are losing to protect their interests?” the ad provocatively questioned. However, what’s lesser-known is that Trump’s foray into such rhetoric came mere months after his first of four trips to Russia.

In August 1987, at the invitation of Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin, Trump embarked on a journey to Moscow aboard a private jet accompanied by “two Russian colonels.” While his anticipated meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev did not materialize, other encounters ensued.

Following this trip, Trump seized every opportunity over the next two years to reiterate his grievances. Addressing the 1988 Lehigh University graduating class, he declared, “Forget about our enemies — Russia, we don’t deal with them that much … Our friends are making billions of dollars and stripping us of our dignity.”

Donald J Trump (Credits: CNN)

These sentiments strikingly echoed the propaganda disseminated by the KGB during that era, aimed at eroding public support for NATO and undermining American institutions.

By 1990, Trump’s perspective on Soviet leadership had shifted. In an interview with Playboy, he forecasted the impending collapse of the Soviet Union, criticizing Gorbachev for his perceived leniency. Interestingly, Trump admired unnamed Soviet officials, lauding their intellect and toughness.

Trump’s subsequent visits to Russia in 1996, 2007, and 2013 for the Miss Universe pageant and his children’s ventures underscored his enduring fascination with the country. Despite his intentions to establish business ties, a substantial deal never materialized.

The narrative takes a familiar turn: The inverse proved true while Trump failed to secure investments in Russia. By 2014, Eric Trump boasted of their reliance on Russian funding, a statement vehemently refuted after his father’s ascent to the presidency.

While Trump’s actions may seem erratic, his consistent messaging spanning over three decades, rooted in his earliest interactions with Russia, sheds light on his strategic intent to weaken NATO.

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