CNN's Alisyn Camerota announced that Putin is supporting Trump's announced and sudden withdrawal from Syria.
"This is happening right now during his end of the year news conference," Camerota said. "Russian President Vladimir Putin, says he agrees with President Trump's decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria and he adds that Trump is right about ISIS being defeated. Leaders of other countries disagree. CNN's Nathan Hodge is live in Moscow with more. Give us the headlines, Nathan."
"Alisyn, President Trump's decision that may have caused a lot of consternation for some, but it's an early Christmas president for Vladimir Putin, who is undergoing his annual ritual of his marathon interview session with the international press, and it's a chance to review his year on the world stage, and today he had big news to respond to with Trump's decision to pull troops from Syria. That's something the Russian government wanted to see, and Russian officials have been talking for a long time that the U.S. has no legal basis to be in Syria.
"This is welcome news for the Kremlin, and Putin has already said that he agrees with what President Trump has done and thinks it's a good decision. He's skeptical, though, about when it will happen.
"As far as ISIS is concerned, I agree more or less with the president of the U.S. as far as the withdrawal of U.S. troops is concerned, I don't really understand what that's about because the U.S. has been present for some 17 years in Afghanistan and they are still talking about withdrawing them but they haven't done it yet."
"So there we have it: Putin saying that he agrees with Trump about this decision, expressing skepticism. Taking a little dig at the U.S. about how long it has been in Afghanistan for 17 years now."
"But this really does fulfill part of Putin's playbook wish list. Russia seems to be in the pole position in Syria, correct?" John Avlon said.
"That's right. Putin intervened in Syria to prop up the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2015 and turn the tide of the conflict in his favor. Russia, with the assistance, of course, of Iran, what Russia really wants to do and what it has been doing over the past months, is shaping outcomes in Syria, shaping what the peace will look like, and they are now the ones who are going to be the dominating factor here."
This really is Christmas morning for Putin. And look, here's more good news for the Russian leader:
Just to make it even more bizarre, look at what the Treasury department announced ON THE VERY SAME DAY:
Washington – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action in response to Russia’s continued disregard for international norms. Specifically, OFAC designated a former officer of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) for having acted on behalf of sanctioned oligarch Oleg Deripaska (Deripaska). OFAC also issued new designations related to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), an entity previously sanctioned for its efforts to interfere in U.S. elections. Today’s action also includes the designation of 15 members of the GRU, a previously designated Russian military intelligence organization, for their involvement in a wide range of malign activity, including attempting to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election, efforts to undermine international organizations through cyber-enabled means, and an assassination attempt in the United Kingdom.
It's almost as if Trump's erratic foreign policy is driven by the Mueller probe -- and Putin. Could it be any crazier? Yes: