There are so many unknowns when it comes to Russia and its relations with the United States. Quick quiz: friend or foe? Democracy or dictatorship? Who can tell from the glowing words that President Trump has spoken about Vladimir Putin. He appreciates his strong leadership, while others equate his rule to a strongman approach to governing. Two things are clearer every year–he controls all mechanisms of government in Russia and has a group of cronies with whom he is pillaging the wealth of the nation by setting up straw organizations and middlemen to move those resources around the world in very complex ways. It’s also coming more into focus that he has a big chip on his shoulder about the West’s treatment of Russia and the eastward movement of NATO to his doorstep. To counter that he has used Russian monies to poke a sharp stick at the West through election interference, as seen in the United States in 2016, and other means of influence peddling. While there’s much self aggrandizement in his rule, he also does want to restore Russia to a more prominent, and meddlesome, place on the world stage. Catherine Belton, author of ‘Putin’s People’, breaks down his machinations in great detail and explores his regime’s goals. And we also peel back President Trump’s relationship with Russia in this podcast.