Is Russia Souring on Donald Trump?

Russian President Putin greets the audience at the congress of volunteers in Moscow

Jacob Heilbrunn interviews Andranik Migranyan about Trump and U.S.-Russia relations.

JH: What’s the Russian response to the ban? Will it have a serious impact on the elections?

AM: The impact will be minimal. Putin said we can’t ban or let any of these sportsmen or women--they are welcome to do that on an individual basis. The Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev said they will be supported financially to travel if they chose to attend. But I am not sure that many people even if they have a right formally to go will. Yesterday I watched one of the political talk shows and the question was are you supportive if someone goes on an individual basis without Russian symbols? The response was more than 70 percent are negative about that. Only 20 percent support this idea. Both psychologically and morally, it will be quite hard upon the athletes. Morally it will hard to justify. It’s good for Putin—he says on a state level we’re not going to make a decision. If he said we are going, it could damage his image.

JH: Is Russia souring on Donald Trump? Julia Ioffe, who has reported for many years on Russia, has a new cover story in the January-February issue of the Atlantic called “What Putin Really Wants.” The thrust seems to be that when it comes to Trump, Putin has a case of buyer’s remorse.

AM: She interviewed me twice. Russia is not sour or dissatisfied. President Putin said that recently again when he was asked about Trump. He is a realist. They listen endlessly to statements of Trump and he might be the politician who is constantly saying that it’s better to have good relations with Russia. He is handicapped, among other things, by Congress. So Trump is not the solution. He is the problem in Russian-American relations. The problems are clear, starting with the idea of Trump’s connections with Russian authorities. Congress is using it as a cudgel. The media is using it. There is no shift in Russia itself. But there is an understanding that Trump can’t deliver on anything. This is what Russian officials have come to conclude.

Image: Reuters