By Printus LeBlanc
If you listen to the mainstream media and progressives that cannot believe they lost the election, you will undoubtedly hear them scream Russia, Russia, Russia. They still have not produced one shred of evidence that President Donald Trump collaborated with the Russian government in any way, but the longer the investigation goes on, the more it looks like the DNC and the Clinton campaign had more to do with Russians than the Trump campaign. However, in their rush to name Trump a “Russian” plant, they forgot to look at one thing, actual policy.
The greatest strategic weapon Russia has is not its nuclear weapons, cyber forces, or 20,000 combat tanks. The most significant strategic weapon Russia possesses is the oil and natural gas residing within its borders. According to the most recent report from the U.S. Energy Information Agency, “Russia was the world’s largest producer of crude oil including lease condensate and the third largest producer of petroleum and other liquids (after Saudi Arabia and the United States) in 2016, with average liquids production of 11.2 million barrels per day (b/d). Russia was the second-largest producer of dry natural gas in 2016 (second to the United States), producing an estimated 21 trillion cubic feet (Tcf).”
The oil and gas industry accounts for over one-third of government revenue for Russia, and untold millions in profits for the ruling kleptocrats. Not only does Russia use the petroleum industry for revenue, but it also uses the industry as a weapon against European nations. The Swedish Defense Research Agency published a report detailing 50 instances when Russia used energy as a weapon to put pressure on its neighbors.
President Trump’s policy is in direct conflict with Russian energy policy. President Trump wants the U.S. to produce more energy and export it to Europe, lessening dependence on Russian energy. The energy policies of President Obama and Hillary Clinton limited U.S. oil and gas exploration and exportation, giving Russia an upper hand in the geopolitical game.
One of President Trump’s top priorities was rebuilding the military after eight years of President Obama ignoring it. Under the Obama administration, the size of the Navy shrunk to 271 combat ships. President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act which called for an increase to 355, and just last week the President signed a defense budget deal that increases defense spending caps. Does an increase in defense spending sound like something Russia wants?
Weapons to Ukraine
Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine, Republicans on Capitol Hill have tried to get the Defense Department to provide lethal aid to the embattled nation. The Obama administration refused to allow U.S. weapons to be shipped to Ukraine. Recently President Trump reversed that decision with an agreement to sell M107A1 sniper rifles and Javelin anti-tank missiles. Why would Russia want to put a man in the oval office that is going to give the enemies of Russia lethal aid?
This rarely went noticed, but President Trump issued new sanctions against Russia this past December. Russia violated the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by the U.S. and U.S.S.R in 1987, by deploying a banned cruise missile. The Obama administration knew about the missile in 2014 but did nothing about it. I wonder if sanctioning Russian companies and individuals was part of the Russian plot?
You may or may not have noticed, but there are three hotspots in the world right now where Russia and the U.S. are on opposing sides, North Korea, Iran, and Syria. One of President Trump’s first actions as Commander in Chief was to bomb Syria with cruise missiles. Syria is a client state of Russia. The President has also stated his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal and asked Congress to rework the framework. Russia has close ties to Iran and was one of the proponents of the agreement, voicing support for the agreement if the U.S. were to pull out. And finally, North Korea.
Russia is one of the few countries in the world that have good relations with the hermit kingdom. Russia does not want to see a conflict on the peninsula for economic and refugee reasons. President Trump has even called out Russia for helping North Korea evade sanctions. Despite the calls from Russia to de-escalate the situation, President Trump continues to build up force on the peninsula while sending multiple carrier groups to the area. Does that sound like something the Russians wanted?
There is something fundamentally wrong with the notion Putin wanted Trump to win. Many of the policies President Trump campaigned on and is currently pushing, conflicts with Russia. U.S. energy policy alone has the potential to damage the Russian economy irreparably, with less revenue flowing into Russian coffers from energy. President Trump said it would be great if we could get along with Russia in 2016, but he also said there was no guarantee that we would. Russia did what it wanted in Syria and Ukraine under the Obama administration, but with President Trump in power Russia now has a harder fight in Ukraine and must tread more lightly in Syria. Pundits must stop looking at partisan news reports and pay attention to policy.
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