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View From Russia: National Security Adviser Michael Flynn Resigns


The big news this morning? Michael Flynn has resigned as President Trump's national security adviser. That happened late last night. He admitted he misled Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had with Russia's ambassador to the United States. And let's get the view now from Moscow. Our correspondent based there, Lucian Kim, is on the line. Good morning.

LUCIAN KIM, BYLINE: Good morning.

GREENE: So how is this news playing out there?

KIM: Well, it's in the news, but it's not really top news. Dmitry Peskov, who is President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, spoke to journalists earlier today. He said he doesn't have any comment on the resignation itself. He said it's a domestic American issue. And he also declined to answer a question whether the - whether sanctions were discussed before Trump's inauguration. On the other hand, Konstantin Kosachev - he's the head of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Russian Senate - posted on Facebook. He was pretty harsh. He criticized the resignation. He said it was the result of an Orwellian thought crime to talk about dialogue...


KIM: ...With Russia these days - yes...

GREENE: (Laughter).

KIM: ...In the U.S. He said it was much worse than paranoia.

GREENE: Worse than paranoia. Let's follow the narrative here. I mean, the theory was that maybe Michael Flynn had given some sort of assurance to the Kremlin that sanctions that were put on Russia by President Obama over the alleged meddling in the U.S. election might, you know, be eased once Donald Trump was in office. Is that why there are officials there who are saying that this is a bad move, because they were feeling kind of good about what U.S.-Russian relations might be under Donald Trump?

KIM: Well, the - initially there was a certain euphoria here in Russia after Trump's election. And I think it's important to remember that ordinary Russians really want good relations with America, so Trump seemed to indicate that he was ready to give that. At the same time, there is quite a bit of caution among top officials. They realize that Trump's attitude towards Russia is one thing. But there have also been a lot of harsh words about Russia from within his Cabinet, and it doesn't look like sanctions will be lifted anytime soon. And probably it should also be noted that, you know, Russians - Russian officials are very aware that there's a lot of opposition to friendlier relations with Russia inside the U.S. Congress.

GREENE: Lucian, help us understand the Russian mindset. Why are Russians so eager to have better relations between these two countries?

KIM: Well, I think often it's a stereotype to say that Russians are anti-American. I think they see themselves as a legitimate player on the world stage, and they want to be seen as such. And they want to have good relations with the U.S. It's not something - they don't necessarily want an adversarial relationship, which is sometimes portrayed in the U.S.

GREENE: And I guess if we look at recent history, I mean, Vladimir Putin's involvement in Syria and sort of elevating his stance on the world stage, that's something that Russians have been happy about.

KIM: Overall, although I think even what's going - been going on in Syria has not necessarily trickled down to the rest of the population. That's somehow sort of on the higher levels of government to sort of legitimize their position on the world stage.

GREENE: OK. Speaking to NPR Moscow correspondent Lucian Kim on this morning when Michael Flynn has resigned as national security adviser for Donald Trump. Lucian, thanks so much.

KIM: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lucian Kim is NPR's international correspondent based in Moscow. He has been reporting on Europe and the former Soviet Union for the past two decades.