The U.S. presidential election is not just being enjoyed by the American public. People from around the globe are tuning in to see Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton hurl insults at each other, which is on par with any reality television program on the air. But while some are getting a kick out of it, the rhetoric that has been spouted on the campaign trail is casting a shadow on more complex issues.
Politico reported the political rhetoric that is going on in the U.S. is “actually starting to change facts on the ground” in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, with public dissent and frustration growing in Ukraine and confidence rising in Russia. Allegations are flying back and forth between the two countries, with Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko placing his country’s army into combat alert. Some of the rhetoric by Trump has reportedly skewed policy in the region slightly in Russia’s favor, with Ukrainians believing this gives the country an unfair advantage. Trump has been very vocal about his affinity for Russia and its president, which adds to perceptions on both sides.
The outcome of the U.S. election could also determine what happens to the two countries. Russia seems to support Trump’s candidacy, and reportedly, “Putin is exploiting this sense of futility over the Clinton-Trump election to lay his plans for future control of Ukraine.” Denis Volkov, a spokesman for pollster Levada, said “in this dead-end situation, Putin is going to push his own agenda, using the moment when there is no real public interest in the Ukraine affair in the world.”
Meanwhile, there’s likely some harsh feelings about Trump’s lack of foreign policy expertise while former Republican candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain have been vocal in their support for Ukrainian independence. Head of Ukrainian TV channel Hromadske Natalia Gumenyuk said Trump’s views and his supporters almost mirror those of Russia:
“Trump’s entire discourse — not just not challenging the Russian occupation of Crimea but isolationism, conspiracy theories, little respect for the law and the right to bully — it all looks exactly like what the Kremlin has been saying for years.”
It seems the results of the 2016 presidential election could have far greater ramifications than just here in the U.S.