Like many Americans, I have begun patching together what I think happened in the 2016 election of Donald Trump and the Russians. Based on the information I have seen, I think this is the essence of the relationship as of today.
1. Russian President Vladimir Putin and U. S. President Barack Obama hated each other. Putin deeply resented Obama's world popularity. But he hated even more the spiraling from power of the Soviet Union. Putin would do anything to dilute the American power in the World. He fought his own countrymen and women in Ukraine and Crimea, and murdered dozens of political opponents in Russia to achieve his goal to regaining some kind of dominance.
2. Putin assumed that Secretary Hillary Clinton's election as President in the United States was inevitable, unless a Republican won some Presidential Primaries early and big. To his and everyone's surprise, Trump started winning one primary after another. Although not proven, it is widely felt that during Trump's earlier financial woes, Trump secured substantial funding and other support from Russians, which may have been with Putin's assistance. Putin had one more asset for a candidate that could be the game changer--Wiki Leaks and Cyber Theft of key political data from all over the world. He used that asset, and often.
3. Putin's objective was to just weaken Clinton's election victory to work on removing the sanctions, with an expected Republican majority in the House and Senate. No real thought was given to Trump winning and what to do with his governing the United States.
4. Putin used the only strategy he knew as a KBG officer--ruthlessness, murder, bribes,leaking confidential information, blackmailing, and anything necessary to achieve his goals.
5. Mark Helprin, a scholar at the Claremont institute writes in the Wall Street Journal today that once Putin saw a chance that Trump could win, he began positioning an ultimate trade for Russia to exit Syria (and take Iran with it) in exchange for the United States leaving Russia alone in its' savaging of Ukraine and Crimea. Putin apparently baited Trump by saying it was a trade that Obama could never pull off. Trump's hunger for saving face and success of some kind is the basis of Putin's brilliant strategy today. If Putin can get Trump to take the bait, Helprin says it will be like Hitler's Germany rolling over Poland to start World War II.
This wasn't suppose to happen because Trump wasn't suppose to win.