It’s no secret that Russian president Vladimir Putin and Hillary Clinton share a strained history—dating back to the rockiest period of Putin’s presidency in 2011, when demonstrators filled the streets to protest allegedly fraudulent elections.
Then-secretary of state Clinton seemed to side with the protestors, saying she had “serious concerns” about the elections and calling for a “full investigation.” “The Russian people…deserve free, fair, transparent elections and leaders who are accountable to them,” she said. Days following her remarks what were sporadic protests turned into a much larger movement.
Now Clinton believes her words have come back to bite her. She reportedly told a donors’ party last night that Russian hacks against the Democratic National Committee and her campaign chief date back to a grudge Putin has born since that moment.
At the time of Clinton’s 2011 statement, Putin blamed Clinton directly for the protests: “She set the tone for some actors in our country and gave them a signal,” he said. “They heard the signal and with the support of the U.S. State Department began active work.”
The outright distrust, anger and public recriminations between the two countries continues, with Putin’s spokesman calling US accusations of hacking in the election putting Donald Trump in the White House “indecent” and “unseemly.” The Kremlin continues to believe that Washington has systematically attempted to undermine it and its neighbors’ political stability through covert operations for many years, much as the US is now accusing Russia of interfering in its presidential election.
Though Clinton last night reportedly insisted she was proud to have defended democracy against Putin, you have to question how much she achieved. There was never an investigation into Russian election fraud, US-Russia relations have deteriorated to their worst point since the Cold War (not all Clinton’s fault), and Putin has allegedly achieved his revenge by helping derail her last shot at the presidency.