What’s been happening?
As early as October, the Obama administration formally accused Russia of interfering with the United States election. Since then, US intelligence agencies such as the FBI and Department of Homeland Security have investigated and presented reports that further accuse Russia for influencing the presidential election result by hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and leaking classified information as well as spreading ‘disinformation’ and fake news.
In late December, the Obama administration announced new sanctions on Russia, expelling 35 diplomats and shutting down two diplomatic compounds in retaliation against the hacking by Russia.
Trump responded to such actions by Obama and the DNC by asserting that the Democrats were just ’embarrassed’ by the election’s results. He also somewhat defended Russia in saying that anyone could be involved in the hacking – it could have been other countries or individuals. In the last few days, Trump responded via a tweet on Twitter as well:
The “Intelligence” briefing on so-called “Russian hacking” was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2017
The jibe only confused intelligence officials as Friday was the scheduled date for the briefing, hence there was no purported delay.
So there seems to be top US intelligence agencies, lawmakers and others who don’t normally agree saying that Russia interfered with the election… and then there’s Trump.
On Friday, a public, unclassified report was delivered by the top intelligence agencies in the US to the president-elect Mr. Trump which again pointed the finger at Russia, with Mr. Trump being the favoured presidential candidate for Mr Putin. The 25 page report did not jump to any conclusions but sought to establish the fact that Russia had an involvement in the US elections. Paid social media users or “Trolls” were mentioned in the report as part of Russia’s influence campaign, where they amplified stories on scandals about Secretary Clinton (perhaps Hilary Clinton’s emails?) . According to some, the report does not seem to provide any actual evidence but only contains the same assertions made multiple times.
Following the meeting, Mr Trump appeared to moderate his position by conceding that Russia, China and other countries consistently attempt to break through the cyber-infrastructure of US government institutions, including the DNC.
The relationship between Russia and the United States is more fragile now than ever following the continued allegations and agressive actions by the Obama administration. Things could continue to deteriorate to the point where it becomes a tit for tat game, although there seems to be a likely possibility that the relationship could be restored and even strengthened once Trump assumes presidency on January 20th, 2017. Both Putin and Trump appear to have mutual respect. Throughout his election campaign, Trump repeatedly praised Putin for his ‘strong’ control over his country while Putin stated that he looks forward to working with Trump and his policies once he assumes office.