The topic of "Russia" in American politics is, sadly, as shallow and misinformed as every other topic in the political mainstream these days. Here are a few facts across the spectrum that people should pay attention to:
1) No, Trump never "colluded" with the Russians. It has been as stupid accusation, now completely debunked by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report. Collusion means that the campaign or candidate directly planned strategy and shared information during the election. Why collude when you have already hired a Russian representative to run your campaign? From the moment Paul Manafort was put in charge of the Trump campaign, every policy statement about Ukraine, Crimea, NATO and Russia were pro-Russian. The Democrats, woefully silent in International Affairs, missed the whole point. At the same time, Manafort had been a paid Russian interests representative to advocate for Russian legitimacy in its incursions, political economic and military, in the Ukraine since 2014. That was illegal, and he was in charge. But that doesn't mean he "colluded" in the elections. Stupid accusation when the truth is so much more damning. The ongoing Trump corporate interest in Trump Moscow into 2016 is a side show, again without legal basis for criticism. Does Trump want to benefit economically from the presidency? Duh. Why did he get out and walk in front of his hotel in D.C. the day he was inaugurated? Trump appointed Manafort. Manafort was a Russian representative. That is the only legitimate criticism, and most Americans don't know enough about the disaster in Crimea and Ukraine to care. Russia 1 - US 0.
2) Syria. Yes, Obama failed to oust Assad after the use of poison gas. His strategy was week, imperialist and misunderstood two things: a) his Iran strategy freed up billions of dollars which would be used to bankroll Assad; and, b) Russia was in play in the ISIS theater of operations. When ISIS made millions from control of oil fields, who did they sell the oil to? Hint: pipelines head north from there. Russia also backs Syria, to a point. That point has been, since before the 1967 war, at which Syria can pay for Russian military equipment, advisors and air protection. With Iranian money, Assad could afford all. Russia has never backed out of the Cold War influence game in Syria, Crimea, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgystan. The southern border to the Middle East is a military and economic buffer like Eastern Europe used to be, but it never had a Berlin Wall to fall. Russia is still invested in the Northern conflicts of the Middle East. Again, less than 1 percent of the American voting public would likely be able to even label those countries accurately on a map, let alone vote based on an understanding of the dynamics of that power move. Russia 2 - US 0.
3) Syria II. Trump is no better. With the massive response of the West to arm, support and direct the war on ISIS came a liberation of Iraq and Syria, and inevitably another betrayal of the Armenians under Turkey along the Syrian and Iraqi borders. The Trump declaration of victory against ISIS is a gross misunderstanding of the international and grassroots nature of the ISIS movement and those organizations that have sworn allegiance to it. Yes, territory, oil fields and command and control was destroyed on the battle field. But ISIS, Al Qaeda and the Taliban are all in rebuilding modes now and are perfectly effective as guerilla terrorist organizations moving to the future. Pulling out of Syria simply hands Syria to Assad and the Russians. Cancelling the Iran deal has an interesting effect, however, stripping Assad of his bankroll. Not surprising, the Russians are now announcing their own pull out from Syria. Assad wins, and remains in power poor with devastated infrastructure. Don't expect him to allow any of the millions of refugees to return home anytime soon. So, while Trump ran against Hillary being part of the Obama power vacuum that allowed ISIS to take hold, he has in fact re-created the exact same power vacuum in the same area, and left Russia in charge to police it. Russia 3 - US 0.
4) Nuclear Arms. The US and Russian together have a minimum of 3,500 nuclear armed warheads currently deployed around the world, with the US deploying slightly more. Trump, almost immediately upon entering office, ordered an NPR (Nuclear Posture Review) and has since restarted Nuclear weapons research and development, a military "space force," and cancelled the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia. We are now "free" to build as many nuclear weapons as we wish, and deploy them anywhere - as is Russia. Now who thinks that is a good idea? What additional level of strategic deterrence is created? Missile and anti-missile technology seems appropriate to cutting edge military research. The warheads are already plenty strong enough. When Russia inherited the Soviet Arsenal after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Ukraine and Belorus where also allowed stewardship over their weapons, in part to break central Russian control in the event of a future arms race. Putin has now re-exerted his control over all three, and the US has freed his hand to build openly. Russia 4 - US 0.
The bottom line is that the Obama and Trump administrations have ushered in a renewed age of Russian influence in the Middle East, while Trump has empowered Russia to expand its borders and rebuild its military along old Cold War borders and strategies. It's a good time to be Putin.