‘I want to ride around Moscow with an American flag in my car. If I find one. Join me! They have earned it‘. If you were wondering who else was celebrating Trump’s win, it was the Editor-in-Chief of Russia Today Margarita Simonyan. Overnight, a deep-seated Russian Anti-Americanism and disbelief in American democracy was turned into almost unending love, although Russian Prime-Minister Medvedev still finds the name ‘Americano’ too unpatriotic for coffee and proposed to rename it into ‘Rusiano’.
The US election results came as a big surprise in Russia as well. According to many sources, most Russian TV talk shows had already prepared panels of ‘experts’ that were supposed to prove how democracy in the US is dead, how the elections were rigged, how American mass media were unfair to Donald Trump and how Clinton cash bought everything. Sound familiar?
At some point The Daily Show with Jon Stewart joked Russia is the ultimate red state. In fact, the Russian government and a significant part of the Russian population turned itself almost into the Republican Party under the Obama administration. Criticizing Obama’s foreign policy? Check. Fear-mongering about the refugee crisis? Check. Questioning President Obama birth certificate and making racist ape jokes? Check, Check and check. Even in the civil rights area, there is evidence of how American activists on the right briefed and directed anti-gay activists and lawmakers in Russia that ultimately resulted in the infamous ‘gay propaganda law’.
The Putin-Trump bromance will probably last right until some of the neo-con establishment that Washington DC was supposed to be drained of come back in cabinet appointments. Although, for the time being, things are looking up for Russia: retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn who sat next to President Putin at Russia Today 10th anniversary dinner, was offered a post of national security advisor in the incoming Trump administration. Most importantly, however, he is from the J. Mearsheimer school of West blaming for the Ukraine crisis, which means that Crimea will be most likely recognized as Russian. As Mearsheimer reiterated at ISA’s ‘manel’ on the Ukraine crisis in Atlanta this year, small countries have to make peace with the fact that their neighbors are great powers. In other words, tough shit, Ukraine.
What is going to happen next in Russian-American relations under the Trump administration? It depends on whether Trump will actually listen to those State Department and Pentagon briefings he has not had the time for. Also, it depends on how many mainstream Republicans are willing to bend over and completely reverse their position on NATO and Russia altogether. Baltic countries and Ukraine fear that a Russia-friendly Oval office might encourage Putin to pursue a military takeover. Not that has not happened before. The question many might need to ask is whether Latvia is worth risking a World War III.