Relations with Russia are on high alert with even nuclear threats being aimed by Russia at the US. In addition there is speculation that Russia is attempting to influence the current US election cycle by hacking in to Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails.
Relations with Russia are complicated for a number of reasons. Probably the most acute situation stems from both Russia and America being on a collision course with respect to the two countries conflicting aims in the Middle East and in particular with respect to Syria. Russia views Syria as a base of operations for it in the Middle East. Russia supports the current Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad ( as does Iran) while the US is fighting to depose Assad. While both America and Russia seek to destroy ISIS, Russia’s primary aim is to ensure that the Assad regime remains in power and therefore Russia is out to destroy the Syrian rebel forces who are backed by the US. These opposing interests establish a serious and volatile area of conflict in regard to Syria and its future. While the US warns Russia to cease bombing the Syrian rebels, Russia warns the US that American planes will be shot down if it interferes with Russia’s bombing of the rebels. In this matter Russia cannot be expected to back down.
The current Obama strategy in Syria as just described is problematic for the Russians. On the other hand the Trump strategy in Syria as expressed by Trump is to deemphasize the ouster of Assad and to focus all the parties on the destruction of ISIS leaving Assad in power. The strategies of Trump and Russia to destroy ISIS and leave Assad in power are in sync. Nevertheless, the Trump strategy exposes the Syrian rebels to ruin and undermines their cause which is to depose Assad and establish a free Syrian government. For this reason the Russians view Trump as their best bet for achieving their Syrian objectives and may explain the WIKILEAKS related email source as being Russia.