Why Vladimir Putin might want to interfere in the U.S. presidential elections

Fiona Hill writes: Whatever his personal preferences, … Putin cannot reasonably expect to influence the outcome of the US presidential election. The best he can hope for is to reduce the ability of whoever comes into the Oval Office to pursue policies that are detrimental to Putin’s and Russia’s interests.

Right now, Putin wants the US to remove sanctions imposed on Russia after its annexation of Crimea in March 2014. Perhaps even more importantly, Russia has parliamentary elections this September, and presidential elections again in 2018, when Putin is expected to run for a fourth term. The Kremlin does not want a repeat of the protests of 2011-’12, and certainly no pronouncements from the US about whether the elections are free and fair or whether Putin has a genuine popular mandate for his next presidency.

Against this backdrop, the information from the DNC files underscores for the Russian public, and the outside world, that US party politics is just as dirty as in Russia or anywhere else. The US looks a lot less credible as the moral authority on the conduct of elections.

Irrespective of whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is elected, from Moscow’s perspective, at the end of this ruinous political campaign, the new US president will look as wounded as Putin did when he took office again in 2012. A US president who is elected amid controversy and recrimination, reviled by a large segment of the electorate, and mired in domestic crises will be hard-pressed to forge a coherent foreign policy and challenge Russia. [Continue reading…]

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