Dana Milbank’s Dec. 28 op-ed asked President-elect Donald Trump and the American public to take “a sneak peek into Putin’s soul.” It is apparent what is in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s soul, and it ain’t pretty. Given the capability of Russian intelligence and Mr. Putin’s blatant efforts to assist Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, shouldn’t we be more concerned about what is in Mr. Putin’s back pocket? Isn’t there the possibility that Mr. Trump fears that Mr. Putin has information that would be more than just an embarrassment to our president-elect? We should not worry if such inquiries are viewed as politically incorrect; Mr. Trump has told us many times that he abhors political correctness.
Doug Davidson, Alexandria
One of former president George W. Bush’s early acts was the unilateral abrogation of a centerpiece of U.S.-Russian relations: the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, an action that probably began this deterioration. It is also correct that Mr. Putin tried to dissuade Mr. Bush from invading Iraq in 2003 and warned about the war in Afghanistan, where the Soviet Union had been ignominiously defeated.
Russia has also been paranoid about what it sees as the profligate expansion of NATO and the failure to recognize Russian fears about encirclement as well as a perceived condescending attitude toward Moscow.
At the NATO summit in Bucharest in 2008, Mr. Bush rashly pressed for membership action plans for Georgia and Ukraine. NATO did not agree, but several months later, Mr. Putin set a trap in South Ossetia, and the Georgians bit. The result was contested borders that, according to the Washington Treaty of 1949 that created NATO, make a state ineligible for membership.