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Donald Trump: Russia's biggest fan

As he departed for the G7 in Canada, President Donald Trump noted to reporters that he believed Russia, which was removed from the group several years ago, should be allowed back in.

Donald J. Trump is a Russian agent. What else can any sane and objective person conclude after his blindly pro-Russian — and anti-American — comment that Russia should be invited back into the G-7?

The dean of the Russian State University in Moscow observed that Mr. Trump took a "sledgehammer" to the G-7 and western alliances with his statement and that Vladimir Putin doesn't have to do anything: "Trump is doing it for him."

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Mr. Trump, who brags that he does not read, is proving to be not only master of the big lie but ignorant of history and reality. Here are facts, not "fake news."

Fact: Russia was ejected in 2014 from what was then the G-8, the exclusive club of leading democratic countries, for sound strategic and moral reasons: Under its authoritarian ruler Vladimir Putin, Russia seized Crimea and invaded eastern Ukraine. Those forces are still there fighting to destabilize an independent nation.

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These two acts were the most blatant cases of aggression in Europe since World War II.

Op-ed: President Donald Trump's attack on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European leaders in NATO is doing serious harm to a powerful and critical alliance, says former NATO commander James Stavridis.

Fact: Russian forces shot down a Malaysian airliner in 2014, killing all 298 passengers and crew, according to prosecutors in the Netherlands. An American, Quinn Lucas Schansman, a dual-national student from Indiana, was a passenger. Based on population, the 189 Dutch citizens killed are roughly proportional to the number of people killed in the 9/11 bombings of the World Trade Center. Russian officials, of course, blame others.

Fact: All American intelligence agencies concluded that Russia intervened with full-force cyberattacks and abuse of millions of social media websites to disrupt the 2016 presidential election, in which Mr. Trump eked out a narrow electoral victory. Russia has conducted similar cyberattacks in western European democracies.

And despite warnings of continuing meddling in the once-sacred American election system, the Trump administration has done nothing to protect it from Russian intervention in upcoming elections. In fact, Mr. Trump has tried to block or watered down tough sanctions against Russia, passed almost unanimously by Congress, for its intervention in the election. Mr. Trump also continues to lavish praise on Mr. Putin and sharply criticize our closest allies.

Donald Trump is not the first U.S. president to disagree with a Canadian leader, but his actions against an ally will have consequences.

Fact: Billions of dollars have poured into Trump hotels and realty since the financial meltdown of 2007, when Donald Trump Jr. admits they were desperate for cash. Russian oligarchs have been caught red-handed shoveling millions to Mr. Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen. Thirteen Russians have been indicted in the special counsel's investigation into the Russian election intervention.

Fact: Many Russian dissidents who have had the courage to speak up and oppose Mr. Putin's autocratic rule have been murdered or arbitrarily jailed, including respected political figures and journalists who were investigating Kremlin misrule and corruption. A former Russian intelligence agent was poisoned this year - by Russian agents, according to British authorities.

Fact: The annual National Security Strategy describes Russia as a major threat to the interests and values of the U.S.

One can go on and on with hard facts that place Russia as a serious hazard to not only the United States but an international order in which democratic processes, human rights and respect for the rule of law are uppermost. Even some Republicans recognized Mr. Trump's selective blindness when it comes to Russia. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska said "Putin is not our friend. He is a thug using Soviet-style aggression to wage a shadow war against America."

It’s true that there are legitimate reasons to want to improve relations with Russia — for American, European and global interests. Russia holds significant energy reserves, in addition to its vast nuclear arsenal (which Mr. Putin is attempting to strengthen despite no increased threat).

A document filed by prosecutors for Special Counsel Robert Mueller shows Manafort talking about lobbying in the U.S.

But Russia's economic throw-weight needs to be kept in perspective. Russia's economy, basically a one-note band that Mr. Putin has failed to diversify in two decades of rule, is ranked 13th in the world in terms of gross national product. The state of California's economy is 5th largest — two times the size of Russia's.

A new book by respected Russian author Masha Gessen, "The Future is History; How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia," outlines how many average citizens in Russia have had their hopes and dreams crushed by the return of the old Soviet order in the form of a new "and unstoppable mafia state" under Mr. Putin.

But then again, maybe that’s a plus in Mr. Trump’s eyes.

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Frederic B. Hill, a former foreign correspondent for The Baltimore Sun, conducted wargames and conferences on national security issues for the Department of State. He is co-editor of "The Life of Kings; The Baltimore Sun and the Golden Age of the American Newspaper" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).

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