Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual press conference recently. Naturally, journalists were very curious about what he might say about the next U.S. president, Donald Trump. Putin said important things about the U.S., and as the future of the world depends on American-Russian relations, it is a good idea to analyze those words.
Putin has been asked about the alleged interference of the Russian intelligence services in the American electoral campaign. Putin gave a careful answer without acknowledging or denying any involvement. He essentially said that he was happy with the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. He said that the Democrats' foreign policy had not been successful and implied that the losers in the elections should not seek scapegoats for their own mistakes. He didn't use these exact words, but he tried to say that it is good news for the world that the Democrats lost the election.
He even said Ronald Reagan's anti-Russian policies had been pursued by the Democrats. So, he said that he hopes that Donald Trump will be a friendlier president to Russia and that this is in everybody's interests. He didn't say that he manipulated the U.S. elections, but he said that the world is better off without the Democrats in the White House.
Putin has a point in blaming the Obama administration about the state of the world. Besides, Obama is still making some interesting decisions, even though he has only few weeks left in power.
We don't know if the first indications about the assassination of Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov reflect the entire truth, but the impression is that the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) was behind it. As the victim was a Russian diplomat, the essential message of this act was conveyed to Russia, and the message is that some people are unhappy with Turkish-Russian rapprochement. Maybe this message is emanating from some people within the U.S. who are about to leave power.
In the same week, the U.S. adopted a surprising position in the U.N. Security Council. For the first time in recent history, the U.S. did not use its veto power to block a resolution condemning Israel's settlement policy. The Obama administration never had close relations with Netanyahu's Israel. Even so, this move in the U.N. was unexpected. Russia had benefited largely from the degradation of U.S.-Israeli relations in the past. The U.S. had probably predicted that the Israeli government would be angry at the resolution, but it is a reminder that the Israeli government should always pay attention to the U.S. Besides, now the Trump administration will have to make an extra effort to heal U.S.-Israeli relations, maybe stopping Israel's desire to build closer ties with Russia.
One might say that Russia has no right to criticize anybody, as this is a country that occupied Crimea. However, Putin suggests that Russia was forced to act this way because of the U.S. In any case, the next American president will not make Ukraine a big issue, and the Russian-American bargain will essentially be about the Middle East.
Russia has had no power to impose its will for a long time on Middle Eastern players. Besides, Russia's position in Syria has reinforced Iran more than the Russians want. Maybe from now on, as the U.S. has accepted that Assad would remain in power for some time, Washington will prefer to work directly with the Russians instead of supporting the Democratic Union Party (PYD).
Putin has even called on the U.S. to join the negotiation table with Russia, Turkey and Iran. Trump will probably accept that, and maybe then, we can have some hope for peace.