It has become a popular talking point for American right-wingers to say that Vladimir Putin didn’t invade Ukraine while Donald Trump was president because Putin was scared of Trump but he doesn’t fear Joe Biden. One of Trump’s former foreign policy advisors, John Bolton, is speaking up about this and is bolstering what many of us already suspected to be true. Bolton said, “Putin saw Trump doing a lot of his work for him” and specifically that “[Putin] saw the president's hostility of NATO.” The Russian president was able to advance his country’s interests without risk by letting Trump serve his interests and move to weaken NATO. An argument can be made that it’s because Biden is being “tough” on Russia that Putin feels the pressure to act on his own to further the interests of his country. Ultimately, this is all speculation and it can’t be known why Putin didn’t invade Ukraine under Trump’s presidency. But even if he did, Trump would likely just have downplayed the whole thing and perhaps even taken Putin’s side as he did in Helsinki.
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