The Kremlin would deny it, but the Donald Trump years have been pretty good for Russia, whose analysts are already calculating the costs of Joe Biden winning November’s U.S. presidential election.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has watched Trump pick fights with European allies, sow doubts over NATO’s future, and hand Moscow its biggest strategic victory in the Middle East in decades by pulling U.S. forces out of Syria.
Resentful over years of Washington’s criticism of rights abuses in Russia, the Kremlin also has enjoyed seeing bitter U.S. domestic divisions undermine its global leadership as a role model of freedom and democracy.
Now Russian officials are war-gaming what a Democratic victory would mean on issues ranging from sanctions and energy exports to arms control and regional hotspots. As Henry Meyer and Ilya Arkhipov report, people close to the leadership believe Biden will be bad news.
While Trump avoids any criticism of Putin, Biden labels Russia an “opponent.” He’d likely move swiftly to repair relations in the western alliance, preventing Putin from exploiting tensions on issues such as gas pipelines and the confrontations over Ukraine and Belarus.
Trump has weathered persistent accusations that he is Putin’s man in the White House. He denies Russia meddled in his favor in the 2016 election campaign, despite the U.S. intelligence community’s unanimous conclusion that it did.
While the Kremlin predictably denies any interference, the FBI last week said Russia is making “very active” efforts to denigrate Biden.
Facing a choice between a second Trump term and a Biden presidency, there is little doubt where Putin would mark his ballot if he had one.
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