President-elect Donald Trump may have said on Thursday that he would listen to the American intelligence community before coming to a decision about President Obama's new sanctions against Russia, but his tweet on Friday strongly suggests that he's already made up his mind.
Great move on delay (by V. Putin) - I always knew he was very smart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2016
Just to be clear: What Trump seems to be referring to here is the widely-held belief that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin decided not to retaliate against Obama's sanctions in the hope that he could smooth things over with Trump once he took office. Not only would Trump's tweet indicate that he's on board with that approach — and thus more likely to revoke Obama's sanctions or cozy up to Russia in another way — but it also means that he is outright praising a hostile leader for defying a sitting American president.
Sam Stein of The Huffington Post summed this up best.
Trump gets angry at POTUS for going after Russia.
Trump questions IC community on Russia
Trump praised Putin as smart.
— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) December 30, 2016
Certainly the Russian Embassy in London has interpreted both Putin's refusal to respond to Obama's sanctions and Trump's own attitude as a literal victory.
Kremlin`s response to @BarackObama `s expulsions: Winston Churchill: in victory magnanimity. pic.twitter.com/0xlJwSpUdv
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) December 30, 2016
It's worth noting here that Winston Churchill hated fascists. While it's unclear whether he would have agreed with future White House adviser Kellyanne Conway that Obama passed these sanctions in order to "box in" her boss, it is well-known that Churchill couldn't stand appeasers either.