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Donald Trump's news conference last Monday in Helsinki was the most embarrassing performance by an American president I can think of.This notion is now firmly lodged in Trump's mind and informs his view of Russia and Putin.Nor was it understanding enough of Russia's security concerns – in the Balkans, for example, where the U.S. launched military interventions that ran roughshod over Russian sensibilities.I continue to believe presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton missed an opportunity to attempt a fundamental reset with Russia. The U.S. could not condone Russia's brutal wars in Chechnya, in which tens of thousands of civilians were killed and much of the region destroyed. The United States and Russia were simply on opposite sides of these issues.In addition, by the late 1990s, Russia was moving away from a democratic path. An authoritarian Russia had even more areas of contention with the United States.So yes, the West might have missed an opportunity to transform Russia in the early '90s.
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