For over a year, President Trump has been under investigation for possible collusion with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Supposedly, there was a quid pro quo — Putin would help Trump get elected and Trump would facilitate Putin’s global ambitions. While hundreds of investigators spending millions of dollars have examined possible Russian interference in the 2016 election, little attention has been paid to the other half of the supposed bargain.
In other words, has Trump helped Russia? The economic, political and diplomatic evidence supports a negative view — Trump’s actions have severely damaged Putin’s Russia.
The collapse of energy prices since 2014 devastated the Russian economy. It is generous to call Russia an industrial state. It is more like a developing country in that its exports are dominated by raw materials such as energy, metals and wood products. Until recently, Russia was the world’s second largest oil exporter — after Saudi Arabia — and the world’s largest natural gas exporter. These energy exports, primarily to Europe, provide not only a substantial portion of the Russian government’s revenues but also leverage for pressuring foreign governments. As Poland, Slovakia and the Ukraine have discovered during the last half decade, defy Russia and expect a cold dark winter when Russia cuts your energy supply.