Real estate billionaire and loudmouthed GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has made a number of statements in the past week that seemed to support Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most recent military adventure in Syria. And those comments have not gone unnoticed among Putin’s supporters, particularly in the city of Yalta in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, which was invaded by Russia last year.
Calling Trump an “extraordinary person,” the mayor of Yalta, Andrey Rostenko, has penned an open letter to the former reality television star, praising his positions and inviting him to come visit occupied Crimea after he is elected president, going so far as to suggest the city might name a street for him.
“We are following the elections process in your country with great interest,” he wrote, according to a translation provided by the Kremlin-run media site RT.com. “We like your election program and we like you as an extraordinary person.”
It was not completely clear that Rostenko has a particularly nuanced understanding of Trump’s policy positions, which, considering their lack of nuance, is a bit of a feat in itself.
“After your victory in the election you plan to establish friendly relations with President Putin – and this is an excellent decision,” he wrote. “You want to be friends with China, and we want the same thing. You support Russia’s effort in fighting international terrorism and so do we. We have a lot in common and this is a fine excuse to arrange a meeting.”
Trump, for the record, has suggested that he would bend Putin and China to his will, not that he would establish close friendships with either the Kremlin or Beijing.
However, he has made comments that have been widely interpreted as critical of U.S. Middle East policy and supportive of Putin’s current effort to prop up the government of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
“You can make the case, if you look at Libya, look at what we did there — it's a mess — if you look at Saddam Hussein with Iraq, look what we did there — it's a mess — it's [Syria] going to be same thing," Trump said on Meet the Press last week.
He has also spoken of how Putin is “bombing the hell” out of ISIS – a proposition that many in the West would challenge, considering that Russian strikes appear to be targeting rebels opposed to Assad rather than ISIS.
In any case, Trump has clearly won some admirers among Putin’s supporters.
Yalta, the city that hosted the famous meeting of Allied leaders as World War II drew to a close, has a street named for former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Rostenko suggested in his letter that, “one day Yalta might get one more street named after the U.S. leader who made an invaluable input into the improvement of relations between our two peoples.”
TASS, another government-run media site, in reporting of Rostenko’s letter described Trump as a “U.S. business tycoon” with “an estimated net worth of $1.4 billion.” Trump himself has angrily challenged estimates of his wealth by Forbes and others that place his net worth considerably below the $8-to$10 billion he has claimed.
However, Trump will have plenty of time to set the record straight when he visits.