One year after the election, the Russian press has turned on President Trump.
In Moscow last November, politicians toasted Trump’s surprise victory and journalists speculated about a new, more solicitous era in U.S.-Russian relations. Today, they’ve significantly dialed back the fandom, Newsweek reports. It has been “the year of a restless Trump,” says the Moscow tabloid Moskovskiy Komsomolets, claiming that “the president has disappointed both Russia and the U.S.” Izvestia, a pro-Putin newspaper, concurred: “Anyone who relied on Trump’s promised improvement in ties with Russia is deeply disappointed by the lack of activity on this issue. You can, of course, blame Congress for everything but even the administration of the White House has not tried to take any steps to cooperate with Moscow.”
Although Trump has repeatedly rejected the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, and has skirted any chance of offering even mild criticism of Vladimir Putin, Congress has moved to punish Moscow. Last month, both the House and Senate passed, nearly unanimously, a new package of sanctions against Russia that included limits on the president’s ability to lift them. Although Trump has not yet signed the legislation, it is veto-proof. The Russian state news agency RIA Novosti writes that Trump’s hands seem to be “tied,” adding that the hope now is not to “improve” ties but merely to “normalize” relations to what they were during the Obama era.
That is not likely anytime soon, as the Russian press acknowledges. “The expectations have not been fulfilled,” says the daily newspaper Kommersant, which says that the potential of a pro-Russia reset is remote. The paper notes that Trump has caused a “break” with his own party. “Deprived of the Washington elites’ support, Trump now has to act like an independent politician,” the paper says.
And Russian journalists have little appetite to sugarcoat Trump’s domestic performance. On Trump’s domestic policy, the news site BFM concludes, “On the whole, he has achieved very little. Obama’s medical reforms have not been scrapped. Republicans have not offered anything instead of it. Construction of the wall with Mexico to halt illegals has not received funding from Congress.” The president has had a “bad year,” says Russia’s business news channel RBC says, calling him “the most unpopular president of the U.S.”