Russian officials have clearly figured out how to use Trump's vulnerabilities against him.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is not happy about the new sanctions imposed by the U.S. this week, and his cronies are using one of the Kremlin's most popular state-run media programs to get the message across to Trump.
Investigative reporter and Russian media analyst Julia Davis reported Friday that Russian state TV devoted an entire panel on a news program this week to a discussion about how Russia should retaliate against the U.S. for the new sanctions, which were imposed in response to the Kremlin's involvement in the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter earlier this year in Salisbury, U.K.
The assassination attempt on Skripal was carried out using the nerve gas Novichok, which violated the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act, and as a result, triggered the mandatory enforcement of new sanctions.
With the previous round of sanctions taking its toll on the economy, Russian officials are not happy about the prospect of facing additional punitive measures.
The Prime Minister even declared this week that imposing new sanctions would be tantamount to an "economic war," while guests on the Russian TV show "60 Minutes" talked about the need to take more "decisive" actions to pressure Trump into easing up on the sanctions (even though Trump doesn't have much say in the matter, since they were enacted under a mandatory clause).
Vitaly Tretyakov, the dean of the Moscow State University’s School of Television, suggested that the Kremlin should "turn this into a headache for Trump."
"If you want us to support you in the elections, do what we say," Tretyakov said, according to Davis, who translated the exchange into English.
Trump, of course, still refuses to acknowledge that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election for the purpose of helping to elect him. As recently as last month, he denied Russia's interference while standing next to Putin in Helsinki.
While he likes to claim he's "tough on Russia," Trump can't seem to bring himself to criticize Putin. He has also reportedly complained that imposing sanctions on Russian could ruin his chance to develop a better relationship with Putin.
The Kremlin clearly has the upper hand in this dynamic, and this latest segment on state-run TV makes it clear that they know it.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.