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The Kremlin Prepares for a Biden Presidency

November 13, 2020

The prospect of Trump as the American President was a welcome turn of fortune, leaving Putin and those around him with a feeling of “hitting the jackpot in a casino,” as Tatiana Stanovaya, the head of the analysis firm R.Politik, put it. “It wasn’t exactly clear what would come of it, but there was a feeling of possibility all the same—that we have to try and use this opportunity.”

As the years went by, Trump’s short attention span and unpredictable zigzagging made a strategic approach to Russia-U.S. relations impossible. And, when he did act, his mercantile approach to geopolitics led him to favor policies that were opposed to Russia’s interests, as in the case of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which was meant to bring fifty-five billion cubic metres of Russian gas each year to Germany and onward throughout Europe. Trump, like previous U.S. Presidents, pushed Germany and other E.U. states to cancel the energy project; he wagered that Europe would then have no choice but to import American liquified natural gas. “There is not a single person left in the Russian élite who thinks we can achieve anything of substance with Trump as President,” Stanovaya told me.

“Relations with Trump were personal, based on chemistry and emotions,” Stanovaya said. “Whereas with Biden you aren’t so much establishing relations with a person but, rather, with a whole system.”

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