Over the last few days we have seen news reports alleging that members of the “intelligence community” have delivered briefings to the effect that the Russians are 1) trying to help President Trump in the 2020 election, and 2) trying to help Bernie Sanders in the same election. I don’t take seriously anything that is leaked from the “intelligence community,” but in any event, we don’t need the CIA to tell us where Vladimir Putin stands on American politics.
Donald Trump is anathema to the rulers of Russia. Not only has he armed the Ukrainians, he has re-invigorated NATO by insisting that members take an interest in their own defense; stood up to and badly wounded Russia’s key ally, Iran; overseen an expansion and strengthening of American armed forces; and, most important, encouraged fracking and other development of U.S. oil and gas resources, which has kept down the global price of oil.
This hits Russia where it hurts the most: as one pundit has noted, Russia is essentially a “heavily armed gas station.” Petroleum represents more than 50% of Russia’s total exports, and natural gas is its main geopolitical weapon against Western Europe.
It is blindingly obvious that the Russians would prefer any Democrat to President Trump. All of the Democrats have promised to limit U.S. production of oil and gas, which no doubt sounds like pure insanity to Putin but is music to his ears. Equally important, they all vow to shrink America’s armed forces and never to use them under any foreseeable circumstances. And they all would pursue a soft line toward Iran.
Of the Democrats, the Russians probably see Sanders as a sentimental favorite, given his longstanding fondness for the Soviet Union, Cuba and Venezuela. I doubt they ever expected to see a Soviet sympathizer as a serious candidate for the presidency. But in the end any Democrat will do, as they are all aligned on the policies (American weakness, in a word) that matter most to Russia.
If any member of the “intelligence community” tries to tell us anything to the contrary, chalk it up to the ongoing war of the Deep State against Donald Trump.