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Trump Supporters In Moscow Bar Cheer Next U.S. President


And let's hear now about a raucous gathering last night of Trump supporters. It was at a bar in Moscow. And that might tell us something about reaction in Russia to Donald Trump's victory. Neil MacFarquhar, the Moscow bureau chief for The New York Times, wrote about the party. And he's on the line. Neil, good morning.


GREENE: Might surprise people to hear that there was a Trump election watch party in the Russian capital. What - why were people gathering? Why do they support him?

MACFARQUHAR: The - Russia has made no secret about its support for Trump for various reasons throughout the campaign. And this group that gathered were mostly sort of young, you know, parliamentary aides and political analysts and so forth. And so they gathered because they wanted to show that, you know, there are people around the world who support Trump. And as the returns came in, you know, every time there was - they were watching CNN. And every time there was a state declared for Trump, they would burst into applause.

GREENE: Sounds like a scene repeated in many different places across the United States. So these were people - parliamentary aides, people in the government - who would somehow be working directly or indirectly for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Is that fair?

MACFARQUHAR: Well, I mean, indirectly, you know, if they're working for Parliament, obviously they're not his aides. And, you know, Mr. Putin has been very scrupulous in not openly stating support for any one candidate, saying he would support whoever the American people chose. But on the periphery, you can kind of read what the mood is in the government just by the support Trump received on - on state-run television. And also in Parliament this morning, when the news came through that Mrs. Clinton had conceded, the Parliament where Putin's party just won an overwhelming majority burst into sustained applause.

GREENE: Well, I guess the key question - why would Vladimir Putin and his allies be in such a good mood over a Trump victory?

MACFARQUHAR: There's sort of three reasons on that. One is that Russia and President Putin have been trying to rewrite the rules of European security ever since he annexed Crimea in March, 2014, and destabilized Ukraine. And those rules, ever since World War II, have held that no power will use military might to try and move borders. And he obviously broke that.

GREENE: He threw those rules out the window, in a way.

MACFARQUHAR: He rather - yes, and, you know, Trump has been supportive of that. You know, he's sort of said Crimea really belongs to Russia. NATO is only going to be, you know, so important if the Europeans pay their own dues and such. And so he's, you know, weakening NATO and doing - or seeming to weaken NATO, which is music to Russia's ears.

And also, it wants to reassert - the second main point is that Russia wants to reassert its role as kind of a global superpower. And so there's a sense that with the internal divisions shown in the campaign, which may or may not deepen with the presidency, that the United States will be preoccupied with internal problems. And so Russia will have a free hand in places like Syria.

GREENE: Oh, internal political strife in the United States might benefit Russia because it looks like the U.S. is weakened.

MACFARQUHAR: The U.S. is weakened and also isolationist. You know, Mr. Trump is not - Mr. Trump has has made clear that he's not interested in sort of nation building and kind of international intervention. And so the combination of his lack of interest in foreign policy and the divisions of the campaign make the Russian establishment believe that the United States will be focused inwardly. And therefore, they will have a freer hand to do what they want around the world.

GREENE: OK, we'll have to, sadly, leave it there. We're out of time. Neil MacFarquhar is the Moscow bureau chief for The New York Times. Thanks so much for talking to us this morning.

MACFARQUHAR: Sure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.