Trump’s Main Messages to Russia


Since the election of the US 45th president Donald Trump, even before his election, during the whole campaign, the US-Russia relations have continuously been among the actively discussed topics. After the meeting of the US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the sidelines of G20 Summit, it is interesting to review the main comments Donald Trump addressed to Russia to understand what his rhetoric towards Russia was that became one of the main factors contributing to their meeting. 

The analysis of Trump’s main comments to Russia prove that since the very beginning of the campaign Donald Trump consistently insisted that the improvement of the relations with Russia will be only positive. 

For example, still on February 15, 2016, when the first stage of the elections, primaries, just began, during his press conference Donald Trump noted: “You want to make a good deal for the country, you want to deal with Russia – and there’s nothing wrong with not fighting everybody, having Russia where we have a good relationship as opposed to all the stupidity that’s taken place.”

On April 26, 2016, when it turned out that in the primaries Trump led his republican opponents, in his speech Trump noted: “We’re going to have a great relationship with Putin and Russia.”

On May 3, 2016, after being appointed as the main Republican candidate in the second stage of the elections, Trump continued to insist that the US should improve its relations with Russia. Trump consistently continued to dwell on that in his speech in California on June 3, during his press conference  on July 27, during presidential debate on October 9, etc.

It is interesting to note that still during the campaign, Trump spoke about the necessity of the meeting with the Russian president. On October 17, 2016, in his interview, he even noted, that it would be prefect if he could meet RF President before being appointed as a president.

Did as a President, Trump’s rhetoric towards Russia undergo any changes?

For example, on January 11, 2017, as a president-elect in his first press conference, referring to the possible hacking against Democratic National Committee, he accepted that it could be Russia, however adding: “At the same time, I think that we are hacked also by other countries and people.”

In his same speech, Trump continued to speak about having good relations with Russia, particularly noting: “If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability, because we have a horrible relationship with Russia. Russia can help us fight ISIS.”

On January 20, after his inauguration, followed by number of scandals on Trump-appointed officials’ connections with Russia, one can note some caution in Trump’s comments addressed to Russia.

For example, during press conference on February 17 in the White House he noted:  ”I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don’t have any deals in Russia… ”

After 100 days of his presidency, in interview to CBS, in response to the question on Russia’s meddling in the elections, he just noted: “I don’t know.”

However, after the meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the White House, Trump noted: “We had a very-very good meeting with Russian Foreign Minister and we are going to stop blood and killing in Syria.” White in response to the disseminated news that assumingly Trump shared secret information with Russian officials during the meeting, he just responded: “As a president, I wanted to share with Russia, the absolute right of which I have…”

The Trump’s team attitude towards Russia was also expressed in the fact that in contrast to the US Senate, the US President Donald Trump and his team posited against the sanctions towards Russia. After the approval of the sanctions by the US Senate, the White House stated that they would work with the Republican congressmen in the House of Representatives, to ease the sanctions against the RF as much as possible. In his turn US State Secretary Rex Tillerson noted, the sanctions would have a negative impact on the US attempts to improve the relations with Russia. 

The analysis of Trump’s main comments addressed to Russia so far demonstrate that in general his team has a positive attitude towards Russia. However it is interesting to note, that it is not the same, when we refer to the statements towards Russia of the representatives of the US defense sphere. For example, the US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, in his comments continuously accused Russia “in challenging the secure and peaceful post-war order.” In addition he accused Russia in violating the international law, referring to “the annexation of Crimea.”

To sum up, we can note that generally positive rhetoric towards Russia by Trump’s team demonstrated so far became one of the factors that contributed to the meeting of the two presidents. What refers to tougher statements made by the defense representatives, we should note, that in that way Trump’s administration possibly tried to keep the balance, which would allow the US to have stronger stance in the further negotiations with Russia.

Liana Hovhannisyan