Trump Is a 'Weak President' Who Has Damaged the West, Says Former Russian Diplomat in State Newspaper

Former Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov has branded President Donald Trump "weak," with no plan and not enough domestic support to make headway on Washington, D.C.-Moscow relations.

In an op-ed published Thursday by the Russian government's official Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper, Ivanov gave a scathing appraisal of Trump's first term and suggested that regardless of who sits in the Oval Office come January, U.S.-Russia relations will be frosty for years to come.

"The Trump administration's experience confirms that only a strong American president, backed by broad and sustained domestic support, is able to steer relations between Washington and Moscow in a constructive direction," Ivanov wrote.

"Donald Trump turned out to be, in general, a weak president, with neither his own program nor stable support in society, and the American elite remained split all these three and a half years," Ivanov added.

"Moreover, the bulk of the American elite was not on Trump's side. Against this background, relations with Russia turned into a bargaining chip, became the subject of speculation, and not a serious balanced policy."

Trump has been widely criticized throughout his presidency for what critics say are improper ties to Russia. Intelligence agencies and Congress have said Russia meddled in the 2016 election to swing the vote in favor of Trump.

Though no clear collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow has been proven, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee published a 1,000 page report in September detailing extensive contact between the Trump campaign and Russia, including multiple Russian intelligence agents.

Trump has also been accused of advancing President Vladimir Putin's foreign policy interests—either by design or through incompetence—and horrified lawmakers and officials by taking Putin's side over his own intelligence agencies regarding the Kremlin's meddling in 2016.

Trump—criticized for cozying up to other dictators including North Korea's Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping—has always expressed a willingness to work with Putin, even defending the strongman leader over criticism of his brutal suppression of dissenters.

Ivanov said Trump's truculent, erratic foreign policy has weakened Russia's primary rivals. "Trump did not skimp on sharp and even shocking criticism of almost all of America's allies, the European Union and even NATO," he wrote, though noted Trump has expanded its support for NATO and pressed allies to do the same.

"Trump has done considerable damage to the unity of the West, although it would be at least not entirely fair to blame him for all transatlantic problems."

Still, Ivanov said Trump had failed to revive ties with the Kremlin. "But have relations between Russia and the United States changed for the better over the past four years? Unfortunately, this question has to be answered in the negative," he said.

"Over these four years, more and more economic sanctions have been imposed on Moscow on all possible occasions—from Ukraine to Syria, from chemical weapons to energy cooperation between Russia and Germany."

"It doesn't really matter how Donald Trump feels about Vladimir Putin," Ivanov continued. "During his presidency, Russian-American relations have not improved in any dimension. On the contrary, throughout the four years, relations continued to deteriorate rapidly in all directions. And, unfortunately, there is no end in sight to this worsening."

Ivanov was pessimistic about an administration led by former Vice President Joe Biden. "But the attitude towards the Democrats represented by Biden in Russia is, to put it mildly, wary: they are expecting, more likely, new troubles than new opportunities," he wrote.

"Fierce political struggle within the United States will continue regardless of the outcome of the elections," Ivanov predicted. "Therefore, it is difficult to count on any fundamental shifts in bilateral Russian-American relations. For such shifts, Biden, as far as one can judge, has neither the political will nor the necessary political capital."

Still, a President Biden would be more predictable, Ivanov said. "Along with a tough position on many problems of world politics, one cannot exclude a balanced position on some issues of strategic stability, and above all with regard to arms control," he wrote of a possible Biden presidency.

Donald Trump, Russia, Putin, weak, election 2020
President Donald Trump debates Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at Belmont University on October 22, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. Jim Bourg-Pool/Getty Images/Getty