On Wednesday, Donald Trump told the New York Times that he would not necessarily come to the aid of NATO states threatened by Russia and would make his decision to defend them from an attack after reviewing whether they “have fulfilled their obligations to us.” It was the latest statement from Trump that was likely greeted with delight in the Kremlin. Earlier this month, Franklin Foer wrote on the frightening ways in which Trump seems to be playing right into Vladimir Putin’s plans for destabilizing the West.
Vladimir Putin has a plan for destroying the West—and that plan looks a lot like Donald Trump. Over the past decade, Russia has boosted right-wing populists across Europe. It loaned money to Marine Le Pen in France, well-documented transfusions of cash to keep her presidential campaign alive. Such largesse also wended its way to the former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, who profited “personally and handsomely” from Russian energy deals, as an American ambassador to Rome once put it.
The destruction of Europe is a grandiose objective; so is the weakening of the United States. Until recently, Putin has only focused glancing attention on American elections. Then along came the presumptive Republican nominee.
Donald Trump is like the Kremlin’s favored candidates, only more so. He celebrated the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU. He denounces NATO with feeling. He is also a great admirer of Vladimir Putin. Trump’s devotion to the Russian president has been portrayed as buffoonish enthusiasm for a fellow macho strongman. But Trump’s statements of praise amount to something closer to slavish devotion.
Read the rest of Putin’s plan on SLATE