On Tuesday, the Kremlin finally acknowledged that U.S. President Donald J. Trump has been defeated by President-elect Joe Biden, by sending an official congratulatory message to the incoming American president. Russian state media immediately noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin was the last leader of the G20 to recognize Biden’s indisputable victory.
Russian state TV hosts, pundits and lawmakers were also quick to point out the unusually dry language of Putin’s greetings, noting that—unlike his prior telegrams to Trump and Obama—Putin didn’t express any hope that U.S.-Russia relations might improve in the near future. “There are no hopes expressed in Putin’s letter to Biden, none whatsoever,” noted Olga Skabeeva, the co-host of Russia’s state TV program 60 Minutes. She added: “We’re disappointed in Americans.”
Describing American president as “our candidate Trump,” “our friend Donald,” “our Grandpa” and “poor, poor Trump,” Kremlin-controlled state TV shows conceded that Trump’s days in the Oval Office are numbered. While the doom and gloom in Russian state media inevitably surrounded most discussions acknowledging Trump’s electoral defeat, pundits and experts celebrated the bright side of their favored candidate’s four-year reign. “Mission accomplished,” rejoiced Karen Shakhnazarov, CEO of Mosfilm Studio and an ever-present pundit on Russian state TV news talk shows. Appearing on state TV program The Evening with Vladimir Soloviev, Shakhnazarov opined that Trump’s mission was to destroy the political system of the United States, and he successfully did exactly that.
In 2016, anticipating Trump’s loss in the presidential election, Russian state media toed the Kremlin’s line by laying the groundwork to assert that their favorite candidate lost solely because American elections are fraudulent and the entire system is rigged. These claims were cast aside, since Trump was elected—even after losing the popular vote. In 2020, Trump and the GOP provided the Kremlin with priceless agitprop by making and supporting the same baseless allegations, voiced from the highest podium in the world: the White House.
Political expert Alexei Martynov, director of the International Institute of the Newly Established States, surmised during the broadcast of 60 Minutes: “They burned the reputation of U.S. institutions during these elections.” Political commentator Sergey Strokan concurred: “He [Trump] is discrediting the American electoral system.” Evgeny Popov, the host of 60 Minutes, grinned like a Cheshire cat: “Let’s be glad about that.” Deputy of the Russian Duma Alexei Zhuravlyov agreed: “I certainly am.” He cheerfully concluded: “The worse for them, the better for us.” During the same broadcast, Popov pointed at the map of states supporting Trump’s desperate plight of overturning election results: “Just look at this map, this is a real beauty. Exactly half of the country, divided. America is divided!”
The Kremlin’s mouthpieces came to recognize the Republican party as their unusual bedfellows in helping to mar the crown jewel of the American democratic system and divide the society. Russian pundits inferred that they perceive the Republicans as fellow racists, who snapped into action to support Trump’s attempts to remain in power, motivated by Biden appointing “non-white people” to serve within his administration. Dmitry Mikheev, a former Soviet political refugee who worked as a researcher at the Hudson Institute, but later returned to Russia, claimed to be well familiar with American conservatives and their values. Appearing on 60 Minutes, Mikheev alleged that the Republicans were unsettled and spurred into action by the inclusion of minorities as Biden’s top-level appointees: “The whites aren’t being allowed in there. They [the GOP] got scared.” The host, Popov, added: “And the head of the Department of Defense is Black. What is this? That must have been the red line.”
Continuing the theme of alleged oppression of white people in America during the following day’s broadcast of 60 Minutes, co-host Olga Skabeeva repeatedly used offensive terms to describe African-Americans and later acknowledged: “This is some sort of a racist show.” Stoking racial tensions has long been one of the Kremlin’s favored methods of sowing discord in American society, as confirmed in the Mueller report, noted by U.S. intelligence officials and concluded by the U.S. Senate. The GOP’s silent approval, while President Trump insulted minorities and vilified immigrants, worked even better than the Kremlin’s most successful disinformation operations. The calls prompting further divisions and even violence were coming from inside the house—the White House.
Once the electoral votes came in and the Kremlin finally acknowledged the outcome, state media pundits predicted that the GOP would shortly follow suit. With all respect due to the party that abandoned its own values in favor of the cult of personality and the pursuit of power at the expense of democracy, Russian International Affairs Council expert Alexey Naumov described Russian President Vladimir Putin as “the owner of Donald Trump” and “the main Republican.” Mocking the GOP, host Evgeny Popov, added: “Republicans, it’s time to give up. Your owner recognized the outcome.” Naumov added: “Your leader [Putin] already recognized Biden’s victory—what are you, dog, waiting for?” There is a grain of truth in every joke, since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally congratulated President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris—so late in the game that his belated acknowledgement came after the congratulations from Vladimir Putin.