Vladimir Putin lives by the power of disinformation and misdirection. Putin stole billions. He is ruthless and unchallenged in Russia.
Donald Trump has the inclination of a dictator. His net worth is questionable. His use of misdirection -- throwing every single claim of his opponent back in her face -- is without nuance. Trump has an eye for weakness but is clueless about diplomacy, history, and context. Putin has no respect for rule of law. Trump doesn't understand the US Constitution. He would be, in a word, Putin's patsy.
Vladimir Putin can read the US polls. Why would he push so hard from Trump's corner with such a small chance of Trump winning in November? Already the international nervousness and turmoil the Trump camp created has served Russia's interests. For Putin, stirring the pot is its own reward.
Since the end of World War II, the Soviet Union/ Russia has had a single objective: to erode US power wherever possible. With international turmoil, its possibilities increase. Trump -- with pledges to upset NATO and other signposts of international cooperation -- is Putin's way in: his Trojan Horse.
As a historical matter Russia has never operated from the center of international power, because its aims are so clearly transparent and hostile to the Western world and industrialized nations. Trump threatens to upend the cardinal rule of post-war diplomacy: contain Russia.
The chip on Putin's shoulder is Russia's eternal grievance: that it always operates from the margins toward the center.
In the era of globalization and technology, Russia is still a minor partner even compared to China, the behemoth at its border. Putin detests Obama exactly for this reason: a minority has more power and influence than he has. With Trump, Putin sees how the tables could turn. The volatile non-politician Trump, who lacks the character and stability to be a leader, would be an easy trophy.
Hillary, on the other hand, stands for diplomatic centeredness and cultural diversity that is an anathema to Putin.
Putin has already taken clear advantage of US policy disasters in the Syria, where Russia can wage war on behalf of another dictator, Assad, without a single concern in the world.
American voters are right to worry there is something in Donald Trump's tax returns that show indebtedness to Russia. By withholding his tax returns, Trump wins. If he loses the election, with Russian businessmen and with Putin, he still wins.
As for Russia meddling in US elections, why wouldn't it if the means were available and its opportunity in Donald Trump so near at hand.
(This OPED was also published at the daily blog, Eye On Miami.)