The U.S. election is still 76 days away, but the Trump-Clinton race has become summer’s “must-see TV” in both Russia and Ukraine – and Trump’s campaign is actually having a tangible effect on the ground in both countries, Politico reports:
In short, the rhetoric in the U.S. election campaign – especially Trump’s – is already altering policy in the region, hardening Moscow’s attitude toward Ukraine and at the same time frustrating and confusing the Ukrainians who want to stand up to Putin. This is partly because the U.S. campaign is happening against the backdrop of rising tensions between Kiev and Moscow. Earlier this month, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko put his army on combat alert after Putin accused him of sending “saboteurs” into Crimea. State television showed footage of the Russians capturing the suspects under a full moon. Russian intelligence claimed that the Ukrainian military had killed a Russian officer and soldier. Kiev called the allegation “a fantasy.” …
Many Ukrainians, torn by their own political scandals and conflicts, say they’re shaken by the level of discourse in the United States, whose democracy many Ukrainian revolutionaries once saw as their compass. The GOP nominee’s laissez-faire attitude toward Ukraine’s future is a particular contrast to the two previous Republican standard-bearers, Mitt Romney and John McCain, both of whom made strident statements in support of Ukraine’s independence and opposed Putin’s aggression.
And on Russian state television, twists and turns in the U.S. campaign are reported through a “pro-Trump lens”:
Every new Trump attack on President Barack Obama or Clinton is also regularly broadcast, as if the state media wants to say, “See, did we not tell you exactly that for years?” Trump’s latest attack line—that Obama created ISIS—is especially popular in Putin’s Russia, where the state-controlled media would have you believe that Russia’s brave leader is alone in fighting malign forces in Syria.