United States relations with Russia has been contentious during the Presidency of Barack Obama. This relationship, however, has not come into the forefront of mainstream media until the most recent President campaign between Democratic-candidate Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Republican-candidate Donald Trump. Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia was brought to question when, as it seems, Mr. Trump called for Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s email server to locate missing emails that have been at the crux of a federal investigation on her behavior as Secretary of State. This statement during a campaign rally brought a foray of media attention and denunciations from the political and intelligence communities as to the national security risk of engaging Russia in campaign speeches.
Shortly thereafter, it appears that a rainfall of emails from the accounts of Hillary Clinton’s campaign committee members appeared. Since then, an investigation opened to determine whether Russia was the source of this information that was believed to be the core of Hillary Clinton’s defeat despite winning the popular vote on election day. In addition to the congratulatory message from Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Trump-Russia relationship is now shaping the US-Russia relationship.
Despite Mr. Trump’s refusing to release his tax-returns to uncover the true nature of his relationship with Russia, it is apparent that he intends to embark on a new path in opposition to how the Obama Administration has communicated with Russia previously. Subsequently, the investigation of the Presidential election has led to a strong belief by the intelligence community that, indeed, there was a Russian influence in the election. This has deepened tensions with the Obama administration and the legislature leading to the expulsion of Russian diplomats.
American views are following suit in a recent ReportLinker survey. When respondents were asked, who is the best partner for the United States, only 4.6% of Americans reported Russia and 6.8% reported China. Whereas 54.2% of respondents reported the United Kingdom despite their exit from the European Union this past year. The second-best partner was reported to be the European Union.
Likewise, 41.8% reported that Russia and 47.4% reported that China were the most important rivals. Though Americans approve of Trump’s positon on China from a recent ReportLinker survey on US-China relations, they do not share the same opinion on Russia. However, when respondents were asked if they believe that Russia interfered with and influenced the elections, 39.3% reported having doubts and 34.8% strong believed so. When evaluation along the party affiliations of the respondents, Democrats were more likely to believe that Russia interfered and Republicans were more likely to disbelieve so. Considering the Republicans won this past election, it is expected that the Democrats would seek an answer for such as disjointed defeat, which was a landslide defeat over Trump in the popular vote and a landslide defeat by Trump in the electoral college vote that ultimately determines the election.
Though Americans are split in their views of Russian involvement in the election, most (57%) agree with sanctions against Russian for the alleged hacking but the feeling is more moderate (30%) than strong (26.7%). Even those who disagree with the sanctions have more moderate attitudes (25.1%) than strong ones (18.2%). Democrats, expectantly, are more likely to agree with sanctions and Republicans are more likely to disagree.
However, Trump and the newly formed Trump Administration is expected to take a different approach toward Russia that may have many Americans uneasy. Until the new administration begins to unfold their foreign policy objectives, the future is unknown.