At least one Russian official is eager to extend an olive branch to an American -- the catch is that it's being proffered not to President Obama but to his would-be successor, Donald Trump.
The mayor of Yalta, the historic seaside city on the Crimean coast, has welcomed Trump's entry into the U.S presidential race. In a message posted on the city's official Web site, Mayor Andrey Rostenko hailed Trump as "an extraordinary person."
"We are following the elections process in your country with great interest," Rostenko wrote, addressing Trump, in a translation published by RT. "We like your election program and we like you as an extraordinary person."
Despite the climate of antipathy in the United States toward Russia and President Vladimir Putin, Rostenko sees in Trump an American willing to mend ties with the Kremlin. Trump has intimated that Putin is a man with whom he can do business, has celebrated Russia's bombing campaign in Syria and has framed the current tensions between Russia and the United States as a symptom of Obama's weakness.
"It's purely lack of respect," Trump told Fox News earlier this week, referring to relations between the two countries. "Pure and simple, it's lack of respect for President Obama by Putin."
Whatever the case, Rostenko appears to believe there would be a bit more Russian respect for Trump as president.
"After your victory in the election you plan to establish friendly relations with President Putin – and this is an excellent decision," writes Yalta's mayor. "You want to be friends with China, and we want the same thing. You support Russia’s effort in fighting international terrorism and so do we. We have a lot in common and this is a fine excuse to arrange a meeting."
Rostenko even suggests in his letter that Yalta could one "get one more street" named after an American president -- a reference to the city street named after President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose 1945 meeting in Yalta with Soviet leader Josef Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill prefigured the post-World War II political order.
In 2014, Russia unilaterally annexed Crimea, a Black Sea territory, from Ukraine, a move that has been followed by months of conflict between Russian-backed separatists and Kiev's forces in eastern Ukraine, as well as rounds of U.S. and European Union sanctions on Moscow.
The pro-Russian mayors of Crimea, meanwhile, have played a role in the Kremlin's propaganda pitches -- in particular, attempting to lure foreign celebrities and officials to the scenic peninsula's shores.
Recently, Fred Durst, vocalist of the American rock band Limp Bizkit, which had its heyday more than a decade ago, expressed interest in moving to Russia and becoming a Russian citizen. Dmitry Polonsky, deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers of Crimea, urged Durst to consider Russian-annexed Crimea.
"We have many areas with beautiful nature, so I'm sure that he'll find a place to settle down that would suit his tastes," said Polonsky. "Obviously these people want to live where they are free and comfortable."
Durst's enthusiasm was apparently genuine, at least according to a tweet from the Russian embassy in London.
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) October 8, 2015
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