When President Donald Trump finally signed the new congressionally mandated Russia sanctions into law on Wednesday, Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, announced that the Kremlin wouldn’t implement any new retaliatory measures to mark the signing. “Retaliatory measures have already been taken,” he said, referring to Putin’s Sunday diktat that would cut America’s diplomatic presence in Russia by two-thirds.
But it wasn’t just that. Why retaliate against the new American sanctions when the American president has done it for you? After fighting against the bill and dragging his feet on signing it, Trump issued a reluctant signing statement about the sanctions. He expressed his “concerns” with the bill, which he said had “problems” and was “seriously flawed,” and bemoaned that it “it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate.” Speaking publicly about the law, he has denounced it as “clearly unconstitutional.” He has still said nothing about Russia’s edict cutting 755 American diplomatic staff in Russia.
Russia has seized on Trump’s criticism. And it’s not just Russian state television, which is gleefully reporting that Trump “has noted that the law is unconstitutional” and that Europe is against these sanctions. (Peeling Europe away from the United States has long been a goal of Putin’s.)