Since Donald Trump was elected president, there has been an endless barrage from the mainstream media of disinformation suggesting that President Trump isn’t tough on Vladimir Putin due to Putin “having dirt” on him. This is on top of the collusion narrative, which many in the media sensationalize on a daily basis as a prelude to the downfall of Trump, in spite of the fact that the Special Counsel and numerous congressional investigations by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have found no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia after almost a year in a half.
Through all of this, however, the Trump Administration has implemented and extended crushing sanctions and penalties on the Russian government for its actions over the past year and a half, the most recent one being the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats from the United States and the closure of Russia’s consulate in Seattle. This action is because of Russia’s poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his 33-year old daughter, who both resided in the United Kingdom. The U.S. acted in conjunction with its allies on these diplomatic expulsions to send Russia a message that its disregard of a sovereign country’s borders will not be tolerated.
This pushback by the United States on Russian actions was virtually unheard of under the Obama Administration. During President Obama’s tenure, Russia tried its boldest actions yet. They invaded Crimea and annexed it under the pretext of a “democratic referendum.” They also supported the vile Syrian regime in the Syrian Civil War and gave them weapons of terrible power and destruction, such as poisonous gas, which the Syrian government used on its own innocent civilians. Finally, they tried to influence American elections by spreading disinformation on all candidates involved. The Russian government took these actions because they knew they could get away with their actions.
Some people in the Democratic Party accuse Trump of trying to appease Russia. They cite President Trump’s reluctance to call out Putin by name as evidence of this. However, actions speak louder than words. In regards to “appeasement,” it is quite ironic for the Democrats to accuse Trump of that, mainly because of what Obama said on tape to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in his reelection year in 2012, which was “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility,” in which Medvedev replied, “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.”
Obama’s entire Russian plan was all about appeasement from the beginning, with him sending his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Moscow at the start of his first term in order to hit a plastic reset button to “reset” American-Russian relations. From that moment on, Russian leaders like Vladimir Putin knew he was a joke, and took advantage of Obama under the guise of “good relations.” Trump’s entire strategy with Russia is similar to Ronald Reagan’s strategy for the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
By increasing military spending and not cutting like under the Obama years, Trump is now forcing Russia to try and match the United States in terms of military power, something that the Russians cannot do due to its small GDP in comparison to the United States. However, they will try to anyway and that increase in military spending on top of the sanctions already on Russia will eventually force them to the bargaining table, just like how Reagan forced Gorbachev to negotiate for better relations. This strategy, in which President Reagan famously called “peace through strength,” is the only way to deal with an aggressive Russia run by Putin.