Trump Remains Russia’s Favorite but This GOPer Is New No.2

Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty Images
Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty Images

In Russia, multiple indictments of former U.S. President Donald J. Trump prompted intense coverage and detailed discussions in the Kremlin-controlled state media. Russian propagandists and analysts speculate that the criminal prosecutions won’t hurt their favorite candidate, but only bolster his popularity. Encouraged by their belief that most of the GOP’s top contenders would limit or stop U.S. aid to Ukraine, Russian talking heads nonetheless prefer Trump himself.

Referring to Trump’s booking record in Georgia, reporter Valentin Bogdanov, who is based in New York City, told the audience of 60 Minutes, “Our strawberry blonde! There is only one like him in the United States.” In his report for the evening edition of Vesti on channel Rossiya-1, Bogdanov showcased Trump’s mugshot along with that of Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, and Elvis Presley. He mused that in his legal struggle, Trump likely sees his rightful place alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, like someone “who suffered for the sake of truth.”

During his Saturday show on channel Solovyov Live, Yevgeny Satanovsky continued the same train of thought, lionizing Trump alongside some of the most prominent historic figures: “He is like Nelson Mandela, like Martin Luther King Jr., he is being persecuted by an evil shadow government!” Satanovsky feverishly claimed that Trump might be assassinated, like Abraham Lincoln or John F. Kennedy.

Sentiments aside, Putin’s mouthpieces are considering Trump’s runners-up, in case he is unable to reach the finish line. The Russians initially placed their hopes in Ron DeSantis, whose Russian nickname is “Number Two,” but another contender captured their attention after the first Republican debate. Vivek Ramaswamy became an overnight success in Moscow, because of his geopolitical naiveté and statements about cutting U.S. assistance to Ukraine.

Friday’s broadcast of 60 Minutes included a montage of Ramaswamy’s debate performance set to Johnny Thunder’s 1968 song, “I’m Alive.” Multiple clips of his statements were peppered throughout the segment and featured all over Russian state media, including RT.

Political scientist Vladimir Kornilov pointed out, “What’s most important—the most telling moment—did you hear the excitement in the audience when Ramaswamy said he wouldn’t support continued U.S. aid to Ukraine? There was an ovation in the auditorium! This shows that Ukraine will certainly experience problems!”

Despite being pleased with Ramaswamy’s rhetoric, Kornilov surmised: “The debate has demonstrated that Trump has no real competition within the Republican party.”

In Russia, the final outcome of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is roundly considered to be dependent on the outcome of the next presidential election. State media pundits are openly pining for the day when America focuses predominantly on its own issues, ceases to be a global driving force and becomes merely another “regional leader.”

What Putin’s marauding troops weren’t able to take by force is expected to be handed over by Trump or a Trump-adjacent candidate. Political commentator Sergey Strokan openly said that the outcome of the American presidential elections will ultimately determine how and when the war in Ukraine will end.

Despite delighting in Ramaswamy’s commentary, Strokan noted, “We just watched the debate. The most important thing is that all of it was overshadowed by the one who wasn’t there: ex-President Donald Trump!” Strokan alleged that consciously or subconsciously, Ramaswamy is copying Trump, down to his mannerisms. Calling the former president “America’s diagnosis,” Strokan argued that his approach to governing the country is here to stay and Ramaswamy is one of Trump’s pupils.

Host Evgeny Popov noted, “We should take a closer look at this Mr. Ramaswamy. The last time, we had installed President Trump for Americans, but our bet didn’t quite work out. Why not try again? Let’s give it another try and see how Ramaswamy will perform, in case Trump doesn’t manage to win the post of the president.”

Perhaps recalling that Russian TV programs can also be viewed abroad, he quickly added, “Just kidding.”

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