Today, as the U.S. grapples with a Russia with resurgent global ambitions, with a Kremlin that hacks our emails, manipulates our news—and, according to the CIA, actively worked to elect Donald Trump—it’s important to realize that for Putin, it’s not just a constant move for advantage. Yes, Putin is pressing Russia’s current interests. But in scheming to defeat Hillary Clinton, and by subjecting American democracy itself to Russian influence, he is also closing a loop opened in part by the Clintons 20 years ago. Putin can’t undo Russia’s Cold War defeat by America. But he can avenge it. And in Donald Trump—the man who defeated Hillary Clinton and seems ready to deal with Putin on terms that few other American politicians would countenance—he hopes he has found a willing partner.
Says Strobe Talbott, a Russia specialist who served as deputy secretary of state under Bill Clinton: “He basically wants to make Russia great again.”