Former US President Donald Trump has all but sealed-up the nomination to become the Republican nominee for the presidency as Americans prepare to go to the polls in November to choose their next commander in chief. However, for those who carefully watch Ukraine, Trump’s ongoing warmness towards Russia raises eyebrows.

On Monday, Trump, who has run a campaign focused on the topic of “revenge,” posted on his social media: “Remember when in Helsinki when a third rate reporter asked me, essentially, who I trusted more, President Putin of Russia, or our ‘intelligence’ low lives.”

He then went on to list some of the intelligence officers who were involved in investigating Trump’s relationship with Russia, before rhetorically asking: “Who would you choose, Putin or these misfits?”

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Trump’s admiration for Putin is not new. This past September, Trump said he liked being complimented by Putin “Because that means what I’m saying is right,” before explaining that if he were president he would “get [Putin] into a room. I’d get Zelensky into a room. Then I’d bring them together. And I’d have a deal worked out” per ending the invasion of Ukraine.

Jason Forrest, an American voter from California said that Trump’s statement makes clear that “Trump is again signaling to Putin that his administration will be RUSSIA FIRST in exchange for continued mass promotion of Trump across the Russian disinfo behemoth.”

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Throughout the 2016 campaign that first brought Trump to the White House, the future president mentioned Putin 80 times in what CNN described as Trump “consistently” breaking “from political orthodoxy in his effusive praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

Trump’s praise of Putin continued, within hours after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, 2022, saying during an interview in regards to Putin that “Here’s a guy who’s very savvy… I know him very well.”

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Continuing his point that he knows Putin, he said: “Very, very well. By the way, this never would have happened with us. Had I been in office, not even thinkable. This would never have happened. But here’s a guy that says, you know, ‘I’m gonna declare a big portion of Ukraine independent’ – he used the word ‘independent’ – ‘and we’re gonna go out and we’re gonna go in and we’re gonna help keep peace.’ You gotta say that’s pretty savvy.”

Whether Trump made the remarks about Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine as bravado to defend his earlier positions, or were his sincerely held beliefs, is unclear. As President, Time reported that when the former American leader was presented with intelligence on foreign affairs that contradicted his personal opinions or public positions, Trump would often become angry.

The same Time article indicated that Trump and his intelligence service often had an antagonistic relationship as: “Trump’s briefs and the briefers themselves, describe futile attempts to keep his attention by using visual aids, confining some briefing points to two or three sentences, and repeating his name and title as frequently as possible.”

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However, not all Republicans understand Trump’s logic of touting Putin. Steve Moore, a Republican strategist says he is “not sure what would make Trump speak favorably of Putin. The Russian dictator has an 86 percent unfavorable rating among self-identified 2020 Trump voters and is viewed unfavorably by 74 percent of the independent voters Trump needs to win the general election. Campaigning on Putin doesn't seem to be a winning strategy.”

Though some Republicans are perplexed by Trump’s statements, he has consistently managed a commanding lead over his opponents. The latest Republican polling shows an aggregated average of Trump garnering 70 percent of the vote against second-place Nikki Haley’s 13 percent among Republican voters.

The latest general election polls, should Trump and Biden be their two parties final candidates, are showing that Trump is leading by 3.8 percent nationally. Any victory of over 5 percent is considered a landslide and recent numbers show the Biden-Trump spread is increasing.

With less than 280 days until the future inhabitant of the White House is chosen, there is much uncertainty as to what will become of Washington-Moscow relations.

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The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.

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