BUDDIES: Putin includes favors for Trump in latest U.S. sanctions list
Russian President Vladimir Putin sanctioned more American citizens this week and did so with stunning audacity.
The Russian government included three people in their sanctions list with no relationship to Russia. The only commonality with each other comes from their being considered enemies of Donald Trump.
Putin’s list includes New York State Attorney General Letitia James, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Lt. Michael Byrd, the Capitol Police officer who shot the pro-Trump rioter Ashli Babbitt on Jan. 6, 2021.
Donald Trump could not have been clearer over the years that he considers all three as “enemies,” and Trump continues to revile the three for their opposition to his policies and criminal behavior.
According to a report in The New York Times:
“The Russian Foreign Ministry offered no specific explanation for why they would be included on the list but did say that among its targets were ‘those in government and law enforcement agencies who are directly involved in the persecution of dissidents in the wake of the so-called storming of the Capitol.””
If several thousand people descended on the Kremlin in an attempt to kick Putin out of the presidency, those “dissidents” wouldn’t be persecuted. They would be dead.
Brittney Griner spent ten months persecuted in a Russian prison for possession of a small amount of marijuana. Putin’s position on “persecution” is selective.
It is stunning that Trump has so successfully whitewashed the January 6th attack that many fellow Republicans openly call people in prison for violently trying to overthrow the government “political prisoners.”
Putin calls them “dissidents,” persecuted dissidents.
Of course, Trump has been extremely cooperative in supporting Putin of late, saying he could end the Ukrainian-Russian war quickly but he refused to say that he would support Ukraine.
Failing to support Ukraine is a way to end the war quickly.
Trump has also successfully led many of his MAGA supporters to reject all support for the war that Russia initiated.
For instance, Tucker Carlson announced early in the war that he wanted Russia to “win.”
The sanctions will have no impact on any of the three individuals named.
The New York Times confirmed that none of them have assets in the country or have any plans to visit Russia anytime soon.
Indeed, at least Raffensperger is wearing the sanctions as a badge of honor, as this retweet demonstrates:
A great honor for @GaSecofState Raffensperger. He is one of the hundreds of Americans banned from Russia by Vladimir Putin. That means Brad is doing it right. #gapol pic.twitter.com/fNJkR4Klgz
— Gabriel Sterling (@GabrielSterling) May 20, 2023
Given the sanctions will have no impact on these three people. Why did Putin list them?
The New York Times’s news division won’t offer possible explanations, but with a little more freedom here, it would seem obvious that Putin is sending a message or, more likely, several messages.
First, it clearly appears that Putin wants to continue his support for Trump, the friendliest American President to Russia ever.
Don’t confuse this with support for the MAGA movement generally.
Raffensberger has nothing to do with DeSantis. Letitia James is not a threat to Mike Pence. The move signals personal support for Donald Trump.
Second, Putin obviously wants the world to know that he continues to support Trump,
Perhaps most importantly, Putin may be signaling that Russia watches Trump’s “enemies” closely and the inclusion in the list is an attempt to scare them and others who may cross Trump.
Putin has reached outside Russia’s borders before, including as the suspected initiator of the assassinations of some powerful Russians.
A lot of Russians have died of “tall building syndrome” of late, both inside and outside of Russia.
These three Americans are likely safe. But one would feel better ignored by Putin rather than named by him.
Striking how Putin is adopting Trump's perceived enemies as his own. The new Russian sanctions list includes people Trump considers adversaries like Letitia James, Brad Raffensperger and the officer who shot Ashli Babbitt even though none has anything to do with Russia policy.
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) May 21, 2023
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Jason Miciak is an associate editor and opinion writer for Occupy Democrats. He's a Canadian-American who grew up in the Pacific Northwest. He is a trained attorney, but for the last five years, he's devoted his time to writing political news and analysis. He enjoys life on the Gulf Coast as a single dad to a 15-year-old daughter. Hobbies include flower pots, cooking, and doing what his daughter tells him they're doing.