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Their bromance continues...

Putin leverages coronavirus chaos to make a direct play to Trump

The two spoke on the phone at least four times over a two-week period, beginning March 30 and ending on Sunday

"Reaching out to the United States ... is part of part of Putin's long-term plan to basically undermine the credibility of the United States as an important stalwart player in the global system, to undermine our alliances,
and then to create as many lasting sources of tension between Donald Trump and his own national security team," Weiss told CNN. "The more that Russia succeeds in doing that, the less pressure Russia itself is likely to face from a unified western camp."
Putin's appeal to Trump is meant to be an "end run around the US national security bureaucracy, the State Department, the Pentagon, the intelligence community," which are far more distrustful of Moscow than the President is, Weiss said.
Putin "has basically shown the rest of the US government that their views on Russia don't matter, that he has direct access to the US president."
Director of Georgetown University's Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies, said that Putin's contacts with Trump reflect a well-established pattern. Stent & other analysts say Trump & Putin have often squeezed out US officials when they've met or had discussions.
"Obviously as we've seen, Trump & Putin have met & discussed things together where the rest of the people were not in the picture," pointing to the leaders' first summit in Hamburg where the leading WH official on RU, Fiona Hill, wasn't invited to the meeting, as is customary.
"This has been characteristic of Trump & Putin the times they've met. We still don't know what they discussed in Finland," pointing to the July 2018 summit in Finland in which Trump & Putin met alone with only their translators, a highly unusual breach of standard practice.
Never before has Trump been in such in such regular, publicly disclosed contact with the Russian strongman. Trump and Putin have spoken on the phone at least 16 times and met face-to-face at least six times, according to CNN's tally.
Their communications often increased up during moments of crisis, like the OPEC conflict this month, and previously after a foiled terrorism plot in 2017.
The Trump-Putin relationship has always been a point of intrigue, largely because of Trump's unorthodox Russia-friendly views and because of the investigation into possible 2016 collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
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