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Feb 20, 2024, 5:16pm EST
politics
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Trump compares himself to Alexei Navalny

Insights from Semafor, Axios, and Project Syndicate

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Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump participates in a Fox News town hall with Laura Ingraham in Greenville, South Carolina, on Feb. 20, 2024.
REUTERS/Sam Wolfe
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Former U.S. President Donald Trump responded to Alexei Navalny’s death by seemingly comparing his legal woes to the Russian opposition leader’s plight. “The sudden death of Alexei Navalny has made me more and more aware of what is happening in our Country,” Trump posted on Truth Social on Monday. “It is a slow, steady progression, with CROOKED, Radical Left Politicians, Prosecutors, and Judges leading us down a path to destruction.”

Trump did not mention Russian President Vladimir Putin, who President Joe Biden and other Western leaders have blamed for Navalny’s death. “Make no mistake: Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death,” Biden said Friday.

Trump’s primary challenger Nikki Haley criticized him for not condemning Putin and accused him of stealing “a page from liberals’ playbook, denouncing America and comparing our country to Russia.”

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Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Trump’s comments symbolize threat of ‘Putin wing’ in GOP

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Sources:  
Axios, CNN, Bloomberg Opinion

Trump’s comments on Navalny’s death “intensified fears among Democrats and some Republicans of how a second Trump term could undermine the U.S. role in western alliances,” Axios reported. The former president has long been criticized for being too soft on Russia and Putin. In 2021, Trump famously remarked: “I got along great with President Putin. I liked him. He liked me.” Reacting to his statement on Navalny, former Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, a vocal Trump critic, warned of a “Putin wing of the Republican Party” with a potential Trump presidency.

Biden “should add Navalny” to his 2024 reelection ticket to highlight the contrast between his and Trump’s views of Putin and Russia, Bloomberg columnist Francis Wilkinson opined. “Navalny deserves a prime speaking role at the Democratic National Convention in August. The dead Russian is a living indictment of MAGA disgrace,” Wilkinson wrote.

Trump could be Europe’s ‘unwitting savior’ even as it frets over his potential presidency

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Sources:  
Semafor, Project Syndicate

Europe has been on edge about a potential Trump presidency, given his threats of withdrawing the U.S. from NATO and his recent comments encouraging Russia to attack NATO countries that fail to meet defense spending goals. But Trump might just end up becoming Europe’s “unwitting savior,” Mark Leonard of the European Council on Foreign Relations argued in Project Syndicate. Trump has made Europeans reconsider their stance on what Ukraine needs to win against Russia, and he has also “lent urgency” to the European Union’s debate over its own defense and security, Leonard wrote. But Trump’s “biggest contribution has been to Europe’s political unity” as a forthcoming poll will show that he would not get a warm welcome by most EU member states, according to Leonard.

Navalny’s death won’t hamper Putin’s reelection, but West should not legitimize it

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Sources:  
Semafor, Politico, Meduza, Vesna

Russia watchers believe that Alexei Navalny’s death is unlikely to derail Putin’s victory in the March 15-17 election and the Kremlin is reportedly working to ensure that he receives more than 80% of the votes. But former political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky urged the West to “stop indulging this charade and declare this election and its result illegitimate.” Writing for Politico, Khodorkovsky criticized the U.S. and other Western leaders for their past response of “weakness and appeasement” after Putin was reelected in 2018, and wrote that the West “cannot give him the slightest trappings of legitimacy” after his likely win this election. Despite the expectation that results will be rigged in Putin’s favor, his critics and opponents encouraged Russians to go to the polls. Russia’s youth movement and anti-war group Vesna wrote on Telegram: “Remember what Alexei told us to do. Vote for any candidate except Putin.”

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