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How Republicans moved from Reagan’s ‘evil empire’ to Trump’s praise for Putin

By Marc Fisher

25 Feb 2022 · 7 min read

WASHINGTON - For decades, the Republican Party's stance on Russia's dictators and expansionist tactics was rock-solid: From Dwight D. Eisenhower to Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan, Russia - then the Soviet Union - was America's chief enemy, untrustworthy, anti-freedom. It was, in Reagan's famous formulation, the "evil empire."

This week, while many Republicans blasted Russian leader Vladimir Putin's all-out assault on Ukraine, former president Donald Trump and some of his allies urged the United States to stay out of the conflict and praised Putin, even presenting him as a "peacekeeper," as Trump put it.

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