On the U.S. presidential campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has made a number of bewildering pro-Russian comments that have some analysts wondering about his underlying motivations.

An extended Hummer 2 sits outside the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson, Miss., decorated with posters touting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Photo: AP

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Over the past few weeks, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has said a number of outrageous things, but for the purposes of U.S. national security, nothing has been more outrageous than his pro-Russian statements.

Trump has called for rethinking the U.S. commitment to NATO, reconsidering the forward deployment of U.S. troops, and reevaluating the U.S. opposition to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Moscow’s military involvement in Eastern Ukraine.

By asserting that he would delay coming to the aid of NATO countries like the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania until he could determine whether they had paid enough to support their own defense, a President Trump would virtually give Russian President Vladimir Putin a carte blanche to invade those countries, which only received their independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991 after being occupied by Moscow since 1939 (except for a brief period of occupation by Nazi Germany from 1941-1944).

Second, by even considering the redeployment of U.S. troops back to the United States [many are now deployed in Europe, Japan and South Korea, as well as in the Middle East — Editor's Note] as part of his “America First” policy, which is eerily reminiscent of the isolationist America First movement led by Charles Lindbergh in the 1930s, Trump would not only facilitate a Russian attack on Europe, he would also remove a major check on Chinese power in the Pacific.

Third, by stating he would “review” U.S. policy toward the Russian annexation of Crimea as well as Moscow’s military involvement in Eastern Ukraine, Trump appeared to at least tacitly support Putin’s policy in Crimea and Ukraine, a policy that has precipitated economic sanctions against Russia by the United States and the European Union. In fact, in an interview with ABC News commentator George Stephanopoulos, Trump seemed ignorant of the fact that Russia had already militarily intervened in Ukraine.

Finally, Trump made another pro-Russian move by weakening the Republican Convention platform, which originally had called for the U.S. to provide “lethal” military aid to Ukraine to help it stand up to Russia.

Putin has returned the favor to Trump by praising the Republican presidential candidate, and, on the basis of the evidence currently available, by facilitating the publication of e-mails of the Democratic National Committee on the eve of the Democratic Party convention  a move clearly aimed at embarrassing Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, whom Putin blames for organizing anti-Putin demonstrations on the streets of Moscow in 2011 in the aftermath of the questionable 2011 Russian parliamentary elections.

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What then explains Trump’s pro-Russian statements and positions? A number of theories have been suggested. These range from the Republican presidential candidate’s general ignorance of world affairs to Russian investments in Trump’s real estate portfolio. After all, in 2008, Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., stated that Russians constitute a  “pretty disproportionate” cross section of Trump’s real estate assets. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia,” he said.

Another explanation could be the influence of Trump’s advisors, such as campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was close to Putin’s ally, Viktor Yanukovych, the former leader of Ukraine, and Carter Page, who has been closely involved with the giant Russian natural gas company Gazprom.

While we will never know whether Russian money is a key factor in Trump’s policy unless he releases his tax returns, there are sufficient problems with Trump’s pro-Russian positions, which threaten to reverse major aspects of U.S. policy since World War Two, that one has to wonder what is motivating the Republican presidential candidate.

The opinion of the author may not necessarily reflect the position of Russia Direct or its staff.