The second in a series of articles analyzing Donald Trump’s alleged ties with the Russian government looks at his not-quite-mutual admiration with Putin.”>

This is the second in a series of articles laying out all you ever wanted to know about Trump and Russia, but were afraid to ask. Read portions one, three and four.

Donald Trumps oft-stated admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin isnt just about macho admiration or authoritarian envy. Its more in the spirit of a locker-room rivalry, a matter of camaraderie and competitionand to some extent deterrence. Searching for an analogy, one believe of the way Russia-friendly U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrbacher once reportedly arm wrestled with Putin to decide who really won the Cold War.( One should note that Rohrbacher lost .)

Trumps frenemy strategyor ambivalence, its hard to know whichmay account for why “hes been gone” from asking aloud on Twitter in 2013 before the Miss Universe Pageant, will Putin become my new best friend? to telling during the candidates debate on Oct. 19, I dont know Putin. I have never gratified Putin. He is not my best friendprompting a lot of weepy Putin memes on social media.

While Trumps business dealings with Russia and his foreign policy advisors ties to Russia have been intensely scrutinized by the media and now the FBI, evidence of direct Russian manipulation of Trump with the intent of affecting the U.S. election has been elusive.

The Russian leaderships own statements and the Russian domestic media and English-language propaganda outlets have been easier to document. But even those organs are careful to keep at least a semblance of balanced reporting on the U.S. presidential campaign, while Putin and top officials have repeatedly stressed their neutrality.

***

In March 2016, The Washington Post operated a story with the headline, The Bromance Between Trump and Putin is Over. The occasion was a video ad that the Trump campaign had produced that they apparently thought would flatter Putin while insulting President Barack Obama. It demonstrated Putin dressed in a judo outfit hurling someone to the ground, followed by an image of a cloaked ISIS fighter.

In the event, the clip objective up irritating Putins aides and possibly him, as well.

What the Russians fastened on was the portraying of their leader not as a can-do he-man by contrast with Obamaas Trump often claimsbut as an aggressive figure out of sync with the non-violent statesman-like image the Kremlin prefers.

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, delivering a mild reprimand by his criteria, said, Its no secret that the demonization of Russia, unfortunately, is an essential feature of the American election campaign.

Then theres the question of whether Putin ever called Trump brilliant, or, as Trump likes to say, a genius.

He didnt.

Putin said, apparently off the cuff, that Trump was an ochen yarkiy chelovek, ochen talantlivy, which entails, in context, a very lively( or vivid) person, very talented. But yarkiy was widely translated as bright or even brilliant, and the hyperbolic drift began.

Eventually debate over Putins real intention using the word yarkiy met so much advertising that ultimately, on June 17, 2016, Fareed Zakaria, a panel moderator at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, immediately asked Putin to explain what he meant. The answer was not a little irritated 😛 TAGEND

Why are you distorting everything? Take a look at what I saidI said in passing that Trump is a vivid personality. And what, hes not vivid? Hes vivid. But I didnt give him any other characterizations. But here is what I paid attention to for sure, what I welcome for sure and do not see anything bad here, but on the contrary: Mr. Trump stated that he was prepared for a full-fledged restoration of Russian-American relations. What is bad here? We greet all this, and what, you dont?

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