Global Issues, Vol. 2: President Trump on Russia and NATO

President+Donald+J.+Trump+gives+his+inaugural+address+January+20.+Courtesy+of+Drew+Angerer%2FGetty+Images

President Donald J. Trump gives his inaugural address January 20. Courtesy of Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In recent months, the American news media has reported alleged links between President Donald J. Trump and the Russian government. Both supporters and critics of President Trump have expressed concern about his potential ties to Russia. What follows is a compilation of unbiased facts pertaining to President Trump’s positions on issues which involve or would affect U.S.-Russian relations.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released an unclassified report January 6 stating that Russia initiated an influence campaign to meddle in the United States’ presidential election, according to wsj.com. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech. Courtesy of Associated Press
Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech. Courtesy of The New York Times

According to the report, “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the American democratic process, denigrate Secretary of State Mrs. Hillary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Security Agency (NSA) agree with these claims. The CIA and the FBI have “high confidence” in the aforementioned statements, while the NSA has “moderate confidence,” according to the report.

According to wsj.com, the long-term objective of Russia’s interference in the election was to undercut the widespread liberal political climate of Western countries.
After President Trump received a briefing of the intelligence report, he released a statement claiming that the hacking did not help him win the election, according to politico.com.
“While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democratic National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines,” President Trump said, in the statement.
Throughout the presidential campaign, President Trump fluctuated between supporting and criticizing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), according to factcheck.org.
In 1949, the United States, Canada, and ten other Western European nations formed NATO to defend against the former Soviet Union, according to factcheck.org. Thus, President Trump’s position on the alliance would be a cornerstone of United States-Russian relations.
President Trump has voiced controversial criticisms of the international military alliance that could potentially have lasting consequences for the United States’ international relations, including heightening tensions with western allies of the United States, according to factcheck.org.
President Donald J. Trump gives his inaugural address January 20. Courtesy of Drew Angerer/Getty Images
President Donald J. Trump gives his inaugural address January 20. Courtesy of AOL News

The Timesa British newspaper, and Bild, a German newspaper, conducted an interview with then President-Elect Donald J. Trump January 16. During the interview, President Trump discussed NATO, an international military alliance that does not include Russia.
“NATO ha[s] problems. Number one it was obsolete because it was, you know, designed many, many years ago. Number two the countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to pay,” President Trump said, in the interview. 
According to CNN, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr. Dmitry Peskov, agreed with President Trump’s statements about NATO.
“[T]he systematic goal of this organization is confrontation,” Mr. Peskov said.
According to pbs.org, NATO is often a tool to protect Eastern European nations with weaker militaries from expansionist aggression from neighboring Russia.
Beginning in early January, a surge of 4,000 U.S. troops and 2,500 vehicles arrived in Germany to reinforce NATO in response to recent Russian hostility. The reinforcements are a part of the European Reassurance Initiative and Operation Atlantic Resolve, a $3.5 billion project the United States paid for in an attempt to bolster the international military alliance.
According to nato.int, NATO’s official website, NATO ceased to cooperate with Russia following the nation’s intervention in Ukraine in 2014.
President Donald J. Trump at his inauguration ceremony January 20.
President Donald J. Trump at his inauguration ceremony January 20. Courtesy of AOL News

“NATO remains concerned by Russia’s continued destabilizing pattern of military activities and aggressive rhetoric,” according to nato.int.
However, President Trump’s Secretary of State nominee Mr. Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary nominee Ret. Gen James Mattis have contradicted Mr. Trump’s position on NATO, according to CNN.
Both cabinet picks vocalized strong support for NATO, citing it as necessary to national security and the interests of the United States in general, according to CNN.
According to wsj.com, President Trump’s national security advisor Mr. Michael Flynn is the subject of investigations by the FBI, CIA, NSA and Treasury Department, who are examining his communications with Russian officials.
According to wsj.com, Mr. Flynn made a series of phone calls to the Russian ambassador to the United States, Mr. Sergey Kislyak. The phone calls took place December 29, the same day President Barack Obama announced sanctions and other punitive measures aimed towards Russia in response to the nation’s interference in the presidential election.
January 25, the House Select Intelligence Committee announced its investigation to examine Russia’s interference in the presidential election, according to latimes.com. The probe will focus on Russian-led cyber activity aimed at the United States, possible links between individuals associated with American political campaigns and Russian officials, and classified information from the American intelligence agencies.
This will be the second congressional committee to analyze Russia’s involvement in the presidential election. The Senate Intelligence Committee began its investigation January 24 to look into both Russia’s actions and the United States’ retaliation, according to politico.com.
Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA) of the House Intelligence committee did not explicitly mention President Trump, the American intelligence community’s report on Russia’s meddling in the election, or Mr. Flynn’s communication with a Russian official in their joint statement announcing the investigation, according to latimes.com.
“This issue is not about party, but about country. The Committee will continue to follow the facts wherever they may lead,” the House Intelligence Committee’s statement said.
-Emily Coster, Opinions Editor and Co-Podcast Editor