Russia Is Betting on Its ‘Dear Old Friend — Donald Trump’*


*Editor’s note: On March 4, 2022, Russia enacted a law that criminalizes public opposition to, or independent news reporting about, the war in Ukraine. The law makes it a crime to call the war a “war” rather than a “special military operation” on social media or in a news article or broadcast. The law is understood to penalize any language that “discredits” Russia’s use of its military in Ukraine, calls for sanctions or protests Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It punishes anyone found to spread “false information” about the invasion with up to 15 years in prison.

Dmitry Drize discusses the phenomenon of Tucker Carlson.

Americans are debating how to treat journalist Tucker Carlson after his interview of Vladimir Putin. Some media experts have suggested that Carlson may face criminal charges. On the other hand, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has speculated that the interview could help Carlson launch a successful career in Russian media. However, the White House has not stated its official view on the issue. Dmitry Drize, a political observer for Kommersant FM, believes the interview indicates that Moscow has finally decided to openly support Donald Trump.

During the Soviet era, if someone visited Russia from a country considered an enemy of the state but had good intentions and was willing to return home with a positive view of the Soviet Union, it was customary for us to give them a hero’s welcome. Within five minutes of their arrival, they would get a medal and an apartment, and win the people’s adoration. As we can see, nothing much has changed since then.

In modern Russian history, perhaps the most famous person fitting this description is Gerard Depardieu. However, he did not live up to expectations and instead proved to be a flawed hero.

Carlson’s arrival in Russia was similar to these previous cases with a slight difference. Russian state media closely followed his every move, making him a household name around the country. From remote villages in the Siberian taiga to major cities like St. Petersburg and Moscow, everyone, young and old, now recognizes him. The Russian people may even have taken a liking to him, as they tend to have sympathy for foreigners who face persecution in their home countries. However, to the point.

Russia’s former partners — the West and particularly the U.S. — were unprepared for this turn of events with Carlson’s visit and failed to organize a uniform response to Carlson’s meeting with the Russian president.

There were calls to arrest the journalist since the U.S. considers such a move by an American citizen to be practically hostile. Hillary Clinton called Carlson a “useful idiot,” someone who is willing to promote Moscow’s interests abroad. Why is he an “idiot”? Supposedly because he’s ideologically motivated or is simply doing it for the attention.

Nevertheless, what distinguishes Carlson from his predecessors, such as Depardieu, John Reed, the Lockshin family and others, is that he’s a staunch Trump supporter.** Indeed, Carlson is openly backing the former president, who hopes to win reelection or, failing that, severely damage the credibility of the Democrats, whom Trump believes stole his victory in 2020. Thus, any attempt to imprison or prosecute Carlson would cause an enormous scandal and be unfavorable to Joe Biden.

As for Carlson’s interview with Putin, it demonstrates the Russian leader’s desire for peace and the understanding of the needs and aspirations of ordinary Americans — Trump’s core voters.

And so, it turns out that Russia has inadvertently taken sides in another country’s political games.

In fact, the interview shows that Moscow is openly betting on its “dear old friend Donald” winning the 2024 presidential election despite the chance he could lose. And even if he wins, it is uncertain whether Trump will be able to repay that trust, given the track record during his presidency. Moreover, it is not guaranteed that Moscow’s gamble will pay off, as Democrats may regain their footing before the presidential election.

So, what conclusions can we draw here? Clearly, Russia is not pivoting to the East, South or North. Instead, it sees its long-term future in the West, and its main objective remains that of convincing Western countries they’re wrong. And once that’s done, Russia, together with the West, will be able to rule the world once again, and everyone will live happily ever after, as in the good old days. And so, enter Carlson, like a ray of light shining in the darkness, to put the first stage of this plan into action.

**Editor’s note: The author appears to be referring to Arnold Lockshin, a Houston scientist who defected to the Soviet Union with his family in 1986.

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About Nikita Gubankov 101 Articles
Originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, I've recently graduated from University College London, UK, with an MSc in Translation and Technology. My interests include history, current affairs and languages. I'm currently working full-time as an account executive in a translation and localization agency, but I'm also a keen translator from English into Russian and vice-versa, as well as Spanish into English.

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