POLITICS
11/06/2018 06:11 SAST | Updated 11/06/2018 06:44 SAST

5 Times Trump Helped Putin When He Probably Shouldn't Have Done

'For Putin, this is return on his investment.'

Jorge Silva / Reuters
Trump and Putin in Vietnam last year.

It's no secret that Donald Trump isn't afraid to openly criticise pretty much anyone - Theresa May, fellow Republicans and Oprah to name just a few.

But one person conspicuously lacking from the list is Vladimir Putin.

In fact with few notable exceptions, Trump has had nothing but glowing praise for the Russian President and has made a number of decisions while in office that appear to have been to his benefit.

1) The G7 Should Become The G8 Again

Just yesterday Trump said Russia should be attending a Group of Seven summit in Canada, a controversial idea that even Moscow seemed to reject.

Russia was expelled from what was then called the G8 in 2014 because of its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Trump's suggestion of readmitting Russia was unlikely to gain any traction at the gathering of the group that includes the United States, Canada, Japan, Britain, Italy, France and Germany.

"You know, whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run and the G7, which used to be the G8, they threw Russia out, they can let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table," Trump told reporters before leaving Washington.

"Today crystallises precisely why Putin was so eager to see Trump elected," said Ned Price, a former CIA analyst and the National Security Council spokesman under then-President Barack Obama.

"For Putin, this is return on his investment, and it's safe to say that his investment has paid off beyond even his wildest dreams."

2) Election Meddling? Could Have Been Anybody

Trump has repeatedly put himself at odds with practically the entire US political and security establishment over Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential Election.

The President has continuously tip-toed around and avoided criticising Putin for interfering in the fundamental democratic processes of the country he is supposed to lead.

During a call with Putin in March Trump was urged to discuss allegations of Russian meddling and to condemn a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in England earlier this month.

He did neither.

3) Who Even Needs Election Meddling...

... when Trump did quite a good job of undermining the integrity of his own election all by himself.

4) CONGRATULATIONS!!!

During that same call, which came shorty after Putin's latest election victory, Trump was given explicit instructions in his daily briefing materials to avoid congratulating his counterpart.

But despite the all-caps notation reading "DO NOT CONGRATULATE," Trump did so anyway.

5) Sanctions? No Thanks

Earlier this year the White House refused to impose sanctions on Russia that were passed into law almost unanimously last year and was designed to punish Moscow's alleged meddling in the 2016 US election.

But the legislation was signed reluctantly by Donald Trump, who wanted warmer ties with Moscow and had opposed the legislation as it worked its way through Congress.

Commentators questioned why the Trump administration would move to protect Russian interests at the expense of punishing them for alleged election interference.