Revenge can be a powerful motivator. Just ask Vladimir Putin.

A view from inside St. Basil's Catherdral looking down Red Square

A view from inside St. Basil’s Catherdral looking down Red Square

The Weekly Standard suggests Vladimir Putin had one thing on his mind when he sought to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Things seemed to be going great with the Russian “reset.” Obama felt so good about his relationship with Moscow that he told outgoing Russian president Dmitri Medvedev to relay to Putin that he’d have “more flexibility” to deal with issues like missile defense after the 2012 presidential election. Yes, that’s right—in 2012, the president of the United States offered Moscow a specific quid pro quo: Don’t make it hard on me before my election and I’ll grease the wheels for you guys on vital issues of American national security.

So what happened to Obama and Putin’s bromance? The 2012 elections—not America’s but Russia’s. Putin was convinced that the United States was working to undermine his run for the presidency. The Russian strongman even accused then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of sending protestors into the street. Of course nothing of the sort happened, but the State Department, via the National Endowment for Democracy, had spent millions of dollars funding non-governmental organizations, promoting human rights, press freedom, rule of law, accountability, etc. Think of how an effort like this must look to an authoritarian leader like Putin: The United States is organizing internal opposition in order to topple your regime. In return, the Putin government drafted legislation defining NGOs as “foreign agents,” labeled the NED an “undesirable organization”, and forced it to shut down its offices in Russia.

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