This is important to note. By all evidence President Trump had to be pushed to sign off on this expulsion of Russian diplomats/spies. Reports also say that Trump refused to commit to the expulsion until he saw that other European allies committing first. Both domestically and internationally, Trump seems to have been faced by a fait accompli. All that said, he did sign off on a major expulsion. Yet note that Russia appears to be placing the blame on the United States and President Trump.
At some level perhaps this is unsurprising. The US is Russia’s decades long geopolitical rival – not the UK, Germany or the Netherlands. But this is part of a pattern that is worrisome and revealing on a number of levels.
This latest move notwithstanding, President Trump has been extremely accommodating toward Russia and lavish in his praise and defense of Vladimir Putin. It has not been reciprocated. Russia has continued with a series of aggressive buzzing of US navy ships, particularly in the seas north of Europe. Putin gave that wild speech about new nuclear missiles that could obliterate Florida and could overwhelm any missile defense (we’ve known both are true for like half a century). Trump’s toadying has been met with provocations and what can only be called trolling, though perhaps that’s not yet part of international relations jargon.
Something is up here.