The idea was to isolate him, make him an outcast, lock him in a box as punishment for blatant violations of international law. They expelled him from the club of world leaders, cut off his country’s economy, and even issued an arrest warrant against him for war crimes.

But Vladimir V. Putin doesn’t seem so isolated these days. Putin, the tsar-envious Russian president who invaded neighboring Ukraine without provocation, killing or wounding hundreds of thousands, is having a moment in the United States.

With the help of a populist former Fox News star and the richest man in America, Putin has gained a platform to justify his actions even as Russian and American journalists languish in his prisons. His favorite candidate is about to win the Republican presidential nomination as Congress considers abandoning Ukraine to the tender mercies of Russian invaders.

Putin’s filibuster-style appearance with Tucker Carlson on Elon Musk’s social media platform amid the debate over Capitol security aid fueled by Donald J. Trump offers a moment to reflect on the dizzying transformation of politics American in recent years. A Republican Party that once defined itself through strong resistance to Russia has increasingly turned toward a form of neo-isolationism with, in some quarters, signs of sympathy for Moscow.

Instead of being a ruthless autocrat seeking to conquer territory through the most violent war in Europe since the fall of the Nazis, Putin has become something of a like-minded ally of certain right-wing forces in the United States, including Trump, who praised his aggression as “great” just before Russian forces stormed the Ukrainian border in 2022. And Putin appears to be prevailing in the American capital in a way that would have once been unthinkable, with the help of de a party that still pays tribute to Ronald Reagan.

“For Putin, it is a manifestation of American weakness,” said Yevgenia Albats, an independent Russian journalist who moved to the United States last year after threats of prosecution. For Putin, she said, the interview with Carlson demonstrates that “the Americans realized they had lost the war with him” and were “sending an envoy close to the next president to confirm his success.” It also has an internal purpose for Putin, she added. “It’s a message to the elites who are defending the ceasefire: You see, the Americans blinked.”

American policy did not need Putin to alter it. The rise of nativism, populism and polarization are local phenomena with historical roots. After decades of a harsh bipartisan Cold War consensus on America’s role in the world, globalization, mass immigration and foreign wars have discredited old thinking for many and opened the door to figures like Trump, whose promise to put “America first” resonated. in large areas of the country.

However, the change has been no more surprising than when it comes to Putin, whose government has spent years injecting disinformation into American social media. By presenting himself as a defender of traditional civilization against moral decadence in the West, a place of “absolute Satanism” with “several so-called genres,” Putin has gained something of a following in the United States.

More than one in four Americans, or 26 percent, have a favorable opinion of the Russian leader, according to a YouGov poll, down from just 15 percent in early 2021, before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine a year later. Even if that figure is an outlier compared to other polls, it suggests there is a certain audience for the Kremlin’s master.

Carlson is one of those who has shown himself most willing to listen to and convey Russia’s message to Americans. As others have noted, Carlson used to refer to Putin as the “Russian dictator” who is “allied with our enemies,” but now argues that Moscow has been misunderstood, or at least not listened to. His comments attacking Ukraine have been gleefully repeated in Russian state media.

in a video Explaining his decision to interview Mr. Putin, Mr. Carlson claimed that Americans and other English-speaking people were not aware of what was really happening regarding the war in Ukraine. “No one has told them the truth,” he said. “Their media is corrupt. “They lie to their readers and viewers.”

Never mind that even the Kremlin said Carlson was not telling the truth when he said he was giving Putin a platform because “not a single Western journalist has bothered to interview him.” Many Western news organizations have requested interviews since the 2022 invasion, as Dmitri S. Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, confirmed, but the Kremlin chose Carlson because he considered him more open than “the traditional Anglo-Saxon media.”

He two hour interview posted online Thursday night wasn’t exactly a gripping video. Putin ignored Carlson’s opening questions to deliver a nearly half-hour lecture on the history of Russia and Ukraine dating back to 832, followed by his typical litany of grievances against the West. Carlson pressured Putin to release Evan GershkovichThe Wall Street Journal reporter arrested in Russia a year ago on espionage charges that he and his employer vehemently denied, but barely challenged the Russian leader and let him speak at length without interruption.

His decision to give Putin that spot set off a predictable wave of outrage. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Carlson a “useful idiot,” adopting the phrase for Western puppets attributed (albeit apocryphally) to Lenin, and former Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., called him “a traitor.”

Mrs. Clinton went on to suggest that the interview underscored a broader, disturbing phenomenon in the United States. “It’s a sign that there are people in this country right now who are like Vladimir Putin’s fifth column.” she said on MSNBC this week.

Among the most frustrated by that are traditional Republicans like Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the party’s Senate leader, who faces growing skepticism about aid to Ukraine at his own conference.

While 11 Senate Republicans voted against aid to Ukraine in May 2022 shortly after the invasion, 31 voted not to advance aid on Thursday and it is still unclear whether House Republicans will allow a vote on the package.

Kinzinger, who broke with Trump and became one of his staunchest critics, recalled that Republicans used to attack President Barack Obama for not doing more to help Ukraine when Russia first seized Crimea in 2014. By contrast , Kinzinger wrote on social media. on Thursday, “Today’s Republican Party would have attacked Obama in 2014 for doing too much for Ukraine.”

Waiting in the wings is Trump, determined to win back his old position. While Robert S. Mueller’s investigators in 2019 found no criminal conspiracy between Trump and Putin’s Russia during the 2016 campaign, the former president’s enigmatic affinity for the Russian ruler remains pronounced and, for many, still baffling.

Even in a recent campaign speech, Trump approvingly cited Putin’s opinion to argue that the Justice Department was unfairly prosecuting him, quoting the Russian as saying that the legal case against the former president “shows the rot of the American political system.”

At other times, Trump has refused to say whether he expects Russia or Ukraine to win the war and has indicated that he would be happy to give up Ukrainian territory to induce Russia to end the conflict.

Putin has taken note. As he spreads his message on social media, watches American lawmakers refuse to arm the victims of their aggression, and awaits the outcome of the presidential race, the Russian leader sees a path out of the penalty area.

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