“‘Trump’s deference to Putin remains one of Washington’s greatest mysteries,’ said Julianne Smith, a former deputy national security adviser to former vice-president Joe Biden. ‘No one knows for sure whether it’s just Trump’s admiration for Putin’s authoritarian rule or it’s the fact that Trump owes Putin something.’

“’Either way, Trump’s refusal to speak ill of Putin or Russia’s aggression in its neighborhood and beyond is eroding US leadership and the transatlantic alliance.’

“… ‘Allies are growing tired of the constant barrage of attacks, especially in light of his praise for authoritarian leaders,’ said Smith. ‘Few in Europe see the two sides of the Atlantic sharing a positive common agenda.’

“… ‘The end result is that countries are starting to hedge and willingly cozy up to countries like China just in case the relationship with the US continues to deteriorate,’ Smith said…”

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