For the last three years, Donald Trump has had to fend off charges that Russia hacked the election with tacit or overt help from his campaign. In an apparent attack to quiet the hackles that he is a puppet of the Kremlin, Trump’s State Department recently imposed a new round of sanctions on Russia for its role in poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.
It didn’t come without some prodding. After all, the White House waited over a month past a statutory deadline to declare Skripal’s death a violation of international law, and only bipartisan pressure spurred Trump to action. But it turns out even this slow-walk response greatly displeased Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. How do we know? Earlier this week, Putin used one of his puppet television networks to warn Trump that he’d better obey if he wants any assistance from the Kremlin in the fall elections.
On Friday morning, writer, producer, and Russian propaganda expert Julia Davis was watching this past week’s edition of “60 Minutes,” a news and debate program on Russia’s main state television channel, Russia 1. She was doing so while monitoring Russian state TV for the Russian Media Monitor, a Web project dedicated to monitoring Russian media “in broader context of the Kremlin’s information warfare.”
The only thing Russia’s version of “60 Minutes” has in common with its more illustrious American counterpart is the title. Russia has no independent press worth mentioning; nearly all of the country’s major media outlets are either owned outright by the Kremlin or controlled by Putin cronies. According to The Guardian, Russian reporters are expected to be “public servants first and journalists second.” Cliff Notes version: if you work in Russian television, you’re expected to be a puppet of the Kremlin if you want to keep your job.
That’s why when Davis saw one of the panelists on “60 Minutes,” Moscow State University School of Television dean Vitaly Tretyakov, talk about the sanctions, she realized that he was delivering an unmistakable warning to Trump. Or, more accurately, Putin was delivering it through Tretyakov.
Davis, a native Ukrainian who is also fluent in Russian, offered a more detailed translation.
Watch the whole thing here. Tretyakov’s remarks begin at the 53:47 mark.
One has to wonder if Putin would have been so determined to fire this shot across Trump’s bow if he knew Trump was tripping all over himself to deny that there was collusion. After all, twice in 24 hours, Trump has fired off quotes from prominent pro-Trump journalists claiming that there really was no collusion. On Thursday, he quoted One America News’ Graham Ledger.
He followed that up on Friday by quoting Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo.
These tweets were an attempt to close the barn door Trump opened after he admitted that a July 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between several Russians and Trump campaign advisers was in fact intended to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. In so doing, Trump tacitly admitted that he knew his advisers were willing to accept Russian help to defeat Hillary.
It can be safely assumed that by using one of his puppet networks to warn Trump, Putin may have inadvertently opened that barn door again.
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