From Handshakes to Headlines: Understanding The Trump-Putin Connection

By Jack Ripley | December 1, 2023

Trump's Connections to Russia and Putin

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Many analysts contend that Donald Trump's warm regard for Vladimir Putin is largely driven by economic interests, both his own and those of his close associates. For instance, Paul Manafort, his former campaign manager, reaped substantial profits from his advisory role to Viktor Yanukovich, the pro-Russian leader of Ukraine.  Similarly, Carter Page, one of Trump's foreign policy advisers, has longstanding connections to Gazprom, a cornerstone of Russia's energy sector. Donald Trump Jr. openly acknowledged the family's efforts to explore opportunities in Russia, highlighting their financial ties. Unfortunately, Trump's refusal to release his tax returns has left the public with limited insight into these financial associations. While Trump occasionally claimed to have a personal relationship with Putin, these assertions have proven false. Nonetheless, Trump values Putin's approval, finding great honor in the compliments he receives from the Russian leader. 

Trump and Putin at the 2019 G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan

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Copyright 2017 The Associated Press

At the 2019 G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, a highly anticipated moment unfolded as President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin came face-to-face. This encounter marked their first in-person meeting since the release of the special counsel's report on Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. Seated alongside Putin in a public setting just before their private meeting, President Trump faced questions about whether he would address the issue of election interference. With a seemingly lighthearted tone, Trump replied affirmatively, playfully pointing a finger at Putin and saying, "Don't meddle with the election." Their exchange, met with laughter from both leaders, added a layer of intrigue to an already complex relationship under scrutiny.