For Quartz, I looked over years of Russian-language coverage of Trump, which long preceded his campaign, and reflected on their relationship and their collaborative white supremacist bases:
While some members of the US media have dismissed attempts to examine Trump’s ties with Russia as “McCarthyism,” Trump’s long-standing public approval of Russia—and Russia’s equally enthusiastic response to Trump—merits scrutiny. Throughout his campaign, Trump has vacillated on nearly every position, with the notable exception of his consistent praise for Putin. The genesis of this relationship is not as important as its consequences. Though Trump’s odds of winning the presidency have decreased, his campaign has empowered white-nationalist movements, many of which embrace Putin. In July, US white-supremacist leader Matthew Heimbach proclaimed, “Putin is the leader, really, of the anti-globalist forces around the world.”
In other words, Trump and Putin are two of a kind: xenophobic, bigoted demagogues with dual histories of corruption, aggression, and celebration of white supremacy repackaged as patriotic nationalism. Their radical American and Russian followers, now linked by the internet, share similar goals and are part of a larger revival of white-supremacist movements happening across the West.
The USSR collapsed twenty-five years ago. Russia is no longer the center of the communist Soviet Union but rather a hyper-capitalist, authoritarian state. Dominated by oligarchs, modern Russia has retained the worst trappings of the Soviet system—such as mass surveillance and personality cults—while cracking down on political dissidents, gays and lesbians, Muslims, Jews, migrant laborers, and others who do not fit with Putin’s nationalist vision. In other words, he engages in many of the same practices Trump proposes.
Trump and Putin are two of a kind: bigoted demagogues with dual histories of corruption and aggression. Critics of this relationship are therefore not merely reacting to outdated Cold War stereotypes—in fact, many are not even old enough to remember this era. Rather, they are rightfully wary of a mutually beneficial relationship between a Russian dictator and an American demagogue that could ultimately harm citizens of Russia, citizens of the US, and citizens of the many other states most directly affected by this alliance, starting with Ukraine and the Baltic members of NATO.