The Russian Situation

Kirk Kitson, Music Page Editor

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The United States has long drawn suspicion upon Russia’s actions. From the looming Cold War of the post war era to the current deteriorating relationship between Vladimir Putin, there has always been a degree of tension in relations between the United States and Russia. “They are definitely a threat,” says a WVHS senior, who wished to remain anonymous. “There’s something to be gained by trying to find a constructive relationship, but we need to take everything that they do and analyze it to make sure that they aren’t doing anything that can threaten our national security and our economic security.” Relations are said to change under the Donald Trump presidency, as he vows to thaw relations with the country. However, there is speculation that Donald Trump may have ulterior motives that range beyond simply having a “good relationship” with Russia and Vladimir Putin. There are also parallels to how these politicians both want to convey their leadership, as they both share views on the way that they both deal with the press.
The Trump presidency has been marred by allegations of Russia favoring and assisting him through hacking since before his inauguration. While Donald Trump has denied this, Defense Secretary James Mattis says that there is “little doubt” that Russia attempted to interfere with the presidential election. According to an unclassified document released by The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election, the consistent goals of which were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.” The document later goes on to state that “we assess Putin, his advisers, and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump over Secretary Clinton.”
Ever since the election, the relationship between US and Russia has become increasingly bizarre. The most notable example is of former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who resigned after only 24 days. Flynn, a retired lieutenant general, came under fire for reports of dishonesty towards Vice President Mike Pence in regards to telephone calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, exposing himself to potential blackmail. Meanwhile, a Russian spy ship was spotted off the coast of Connecticut near a submarine base and also near the largest naval base in the world, where the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic Fleet is located. On March 1st, it was revealed that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in contact with Russian ambassadors while working for the Trump campaign. Democrats such as Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi are calling for his resignation, while some Republicans such as Ohio Senator Rob Portman and Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz want him to recuse himself from the investigation into Trump’s connections with Russia. In response to these allegations, Jeff Sessions said he “knows nothing about this.”
President Trump refuses any calls about Russian politics, calling it “fake news”. But the way that Donald Trump uses this term also evokes Russian government values. Both think that the media works against them, and they only support news that paints them in a favorable light (RT in Russia and Fox News in the US). The difference in Russia is that journalists who dare speak against the government face the threat of murder. An example of this is Anna Politkovskaya, a reporter and activist that was killed in 2006. If they stray too far away from the government’s message, they are branded as “terrorists” and “extremists.”
Donald Trump told a group of business owners that “he hasn’t called Russia in ten years”, according to the Los Angeles Times. On Twitter he said, “This Russian connection nonsense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton’s losing campaign.” But the Trump administration cannot seem to shy away from controversies with Russia. When asked about Russia and if the US should trust Vladimir Putin, WVHS senior Greg Knob said, “No, I don’t trust Vladimir Putin. I think that he, along with many Russians, rigged our election. I think that the American people need to know the relationship between Trump and Russia.”

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The Russian Situation