The facts largely support Trump’s version of nuclear negotiations with Russia. The Congressional Research Service has reported that Russia has increased its deployed nuclear weapons from 1,537 warheads to 1,735 warheads. By contrast, the U.S. has reduced its nuclear capability across the board so that Russia now has 110 more weapons. Russia has further exploited loopholes in the treaty to increase its weapon numbers. This puts the U.S. at a security disadvantage vis-à-vis Russia—one that the State Department has failed to note in its annual reports of the treaty.
Trump’s assertion that Washington should collaborate with Moscow in order to defeat ISIS is based on wishful thinking. His position does not take into account Russia’s ongoing actions in Syria that work against bringing about a sustainable end to the humanitarian disaster and terrorist threat. Putin’s primary objective in Syria is to maintain the power of the Assad regime, which routinely kills its own citizens while sponsoring terrorism, emboldening Iran, and inciting instability in the region. Overall, contrary to Trump’s statements, relying on Russian cooperation in Syria is not a viable path toward defeating ISIS.
We share Governor Pence’s view of President Putin. Putin’s brutal and authoritarian rule, his invasion of neighboring states, his support for the murderous Assad regime, and his virulent anti-American propaganda make him unworthy of any respect, praise, or admiration from an American presidential candidate. As for Putin’s approval rating, he controls the media, especially television, he snuffs out any perceived threats, and has created a climate of fear that deters Russians from answering pollsters’ questions candidly. Small wonder that Putin has impressive poll numbers. Moreover, Putin described Trump by saying he was “bright” or “colorful,” not “brilliant,” as Trump has claimed. Putin even clarified this in an interview with Fareed Zakaria in June when he said, “I said in passing that Trump is a vivid personality. Is he not? He is. I did not ascribe any other characteristics to him.” For a comprehensive assessment of U.S.-Russia relations, see the Russia chapter in JHI’s book, Choosing to Lead.
Clinton’s repeated criticisms of Russian aggression are a tacit admission that her reset strategy was a failed foreign policy. She misjudged the Russians by showing weakness and the Russians have systematically exploited this opening for more than seven years. Secretary Clinton vastly overstates the results of the reset in U.S.-Russian relations and fails to acknowledge its heavy price on U.S. relationships with Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and other nations in the post-Soviet space; U.S. defense commitments in Eastern Europe; and U.S. support for democracy and civil society in Russia.