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President Putin was among the first leaders to congratulate Donald Trump

World leaders greeted Donald Trump’s victory with reactions ranging from the hyperbolic to the downright sceptical, with traditional allies sounding warily cautious.

The Russian parliament broke into applause at the news, while President Putin dispatched a congratulatory telegram expressing his hope to work together to remove Russian-American relations from their “critical” state.

Mr Putin later made clear that Russia would do so only as an equal partner to the United States, underlining European fears that it seeks to exploit a Trump presidency to re-establish itself as a rival superpower.

There was caution in Asia, where the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, sought to soothe his nation’s nerves and calm turmoil in the markets. Mr Trump has threatened to remove American troops and the nuclear umbrella from Japan unless it contributes more to the expense. “Hand in hand with Trump, we will try to work together,” he said.

President Xi of China said he hoped that the world’s two biggest economies could “manage differences in a constructive way”, stressing, like Mr Putin, “mutual respect”.

Mr Trump has threatened a trade war with China, but his isolationist tendencies have many in Beijing hopeful that an American retreat from the world will leave more space for China to extend its influence.

Perhaps the most nervous reaction came from Europe. Mr Trump has criticised allies there for failing to pay their way in Nato, an “obsolete” alliance from which he has threatened to withdraw, questioning America’s obligation to help to defend Europe from the Russian threat. European governments, already reeling from the Brexit referendum, are fearful of the same insurgent populism that fuelled Mr Trump’s victory in a string of elections next year.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, fired a warning shot, suggesting that good relations depended on Mr Trump’s repudiation of the less pluralistic elements of his campaign. Her country shared with America the values of democracy, freedom, respect for the law and human dignity, she said, adding that “on the basis of these values” she offered close co-operation with Mr Trump.

President Hollande of France, who faces a stiff challenge from the right, acknowledged that Mr Trump’s election “opens a period of uncertainty”.

He added: “Certain positions taken by Donald Trump during the American campaign must be confronted with the values we share with the United States. What is at stake is peace, the fight against terrorism, the situation in the Middle East. It is economic relations and the preservation of the planet.”

The European Union’s Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker issued an invitation for Mr Trump to visit Brussels as soon as possible, saying both sides “should consolidate the bridges we have been building across the Atlantic”.

Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front and a fierce opponent of EU membership, tweeted her congratulations to Mr Trump and “the American people, free”.

In the Middle East, President Rouhani of Iran warned Mr Trump against sticking to his promise to dismantle the nuclear deal struck last year. The deal, although brokered by Washington, was signed off by the UN, which Mr Rouhani said “cannot be overturned by a single government”. The Taliban called on Mr Trump to withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan.

France

Donald Trump’s triumph has sent a shockwave through French politics because it makes plausible a victory for Marine Le Pen, the National Front leader, in presidential elections next May (Charles Bremner writes).

Conventional wisdom has held that Ms Le Pen will do well in the first round of the election but will be easily defeated by the mainstream candidate — most likely the conservative Alain Juppé — in a run-off. Now the bets are off. The triumph of the American populist and the UK Brexit vote in June have confounded established opinion and the polls. Ms Le Pen and her lieutenants spent yesterday gloating on radio and TV as pundits began talking seriously about the possibility of a National Front president. The Front’s hope is that the far-right stigma that has deterred voters will dissolve with the new respectability of the extreme doctrines of Mr Trump.

His win has also given hope to Nicolas Sarkozy, the underdog in the race for the candidacy of the conservative Republicans party. The former president has embraced the populist cause, seizing on many of Ms Le Pen’s themes as he casts himself — implausibly — as an outsider who is battling the elite. Eric Ciotti, Mr Sarkozy’s spokesman, said: “The election of Trump is a global earthquake that upsets everything.” The “Sarkozistes” point out that Mr Juppé, the strong favourite for the presidency, embodies everything that the US electorate rejected. He is inclusive, uncharismatic, moderate and a veteran of the governing class.

Russia

Moscow was jubilant at Mr Trump’s win, seeing a chance to build ties with Washington while eroding Western resolve against Russian intervention in Ukraine and Syria (Tom Parfitt writes).

President Putin was among the first leaders to congratulate the Republican victor, firing off a quick telegram saying that he hoped the two men could “bring Russian-American relations out of a critical situation”.

Many observers believe that the Kremlin backed a Trump victory to tarnish America’s democratic credentials, and because the tycoon was seen as a malleable deal-maker.

MPs in Russia’s lower house of parliament burst into applause as Mr Trump’s victory was announced. “Dear friends, respected colleagues, three minutes ago Hillary Clinton admitted her defeat in the US presidential elections, and a second ago Trump began his speech as the US president-elect — on which I congratulate you,” Vyacheslav Nikonov, a pro-Kremlin MP, told the chamber.

Moscow hopes that an isolationist US and Europe will withdraw into themselves allowing Russia a free rein in its East European backyard — and further afield in the Middle East. Russian politicians deny having such cynical motives, saying that Mrs Clinton was an irredeemable warmonger who wanted to belittle their country.

Mr Putin will look to ease US energy, financial and defence sanctions imposed over the Ukraine crisis and will be keen to draw Mr Trump into talks on the status of Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine two years ago. Mr Trump said in July that he would be “looking into” whether to recognise Moscow’s right to the region.

Baltic states

The Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia looked on nervously as Donald Trump swept to victory (Tom Parfitt writes).

A shiver went down spines in the former Soviet countries when he told The New York Times in July that he would not automatically rush to their aid if Russia attacked.

All three are part of Nato and should expect defence from members of the alliance, which treats an assault on one as an assault on all. Mr Trump’s comments that he would protect them against a hypothetical attack only if they had “fulfilled their obligations to us” appeared to go against this principle.

Although an attack from Moscow is thought unlikely, the build-up of Nato and Russian forces in the region after the annexation of Crimea has raised tensions.

Leaders in the Baltic countries congratulated Mr Trump yesterday, but appeared keen to emphasise their security ties with Washington. “We will keep working together, ensuring collective defence, and fighting terrorism as well as other modern security challenges,” said President Vejonis of Latvia.

President Grybauskaite of Lithuania said: “We trust the United States, as it is our strongest and closest ally.”

Israel

The first foreign leader that Donald Trump called was Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, sending an early signal about where his priorities will lie (Gregg Carlstrom writes).

Mr Netanyahu had clashed repeatedly with the Obama administration over its nuclear deal with Iran, a pact also denounced by Mr Trump during the presidential campaign. Mr Trump has vowed to be Israel’s “best friend”, and promised to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Israeli officials worry, though, about his impulsive behaviour. Diplomats fear that a confrontation with Mr Trump would have serious consequences. “Bibi sees Trump’s short fuse and knows this is a man who can at once lose his senses,” Dan Margalit, a veteran columnist, said.

Italy

Foes of Matteo Renzi claimed that the populism that swept Donald Trump to power would soon unseat him (Tom Kington writes).

The Italian prime minister will be the first western leader to face an electoral challenge after Mr Trump’s triumph in a referendum on his plans for constitutional reform on December 4. He claims it will streamline politics but says he will resign if he fails.

Opposition parties, such as the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, say the reform will hand more power to the government. Beppe Grillo, the movement’s founder, said that Mr Trump’s win mirrored Five Star support in Italy.

China

Chinese leaders have preferred Republicans ever since Mao Zedong met Richard Nixon, but the maverick Republican they now face presents fresh challenges as well as opportunities (Calum MacLeod writes).

Donald Trump’s focus on US economic interests and threats of trade wars could “turn Sino-US relations from a geopolitical rivalry to an economic conflict”, the Global Times, a Communist Party-controlled tabloid, warned yesterday.

On the campaign trail, Mr Trump vowed to impose a 45 per cent tariff on Chinese imports, and could move quickly to label China a currency manipulator, but Beijing hasn’t risen to either threat, well aware that candidates invariably change their China tune when in office.

On other issues, Chinese experts predict that Mr Trump may be welcomed for taking a softer line on human rights, and back-tracking from President Obama’s “pivot to Asia”, thereby reducing pressure on China’s claims over the South China Sea.

“Trump is a businessman, he cares about doing business with China; he doesn’t care if China has a human rights problem,” said Shen Dingli, an international relations expert at Fudan University, Shanghai.

Mexico

Mexico was in shock and its currency took a Brexit-style pounding, falling to its lowest level in almost 30 years (James Hider writes).

The peso’s crash was caused by investors’ fears that the US president-elect would make good on pledges to rip up a trade deal with Mexico, impose tariffs on all exports across the border and deport millions of immigrants whose US salaries are a cornerstone of the Mexican economy.

President Peña Nieto held a crisis cabinet meeting overnight and the central bank met yesterday morning to discuss the fallout of the election. He telephoned Mr Trump last night and the two agreed to meet in the coming weeks. Fernando Belaunzarán, a politician on the centre left, said: “Trump’s victory is the antithesis of the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

Mr Peña Nieto had previously compared Mr Trump’s comments to the words of Hitler and Mussolini and vowed that Mexico would never pay for a border wall. “Very hard times are coming to Mexico,” Gabriela Siller, a financial analyst, said. Economic pain usually leads to more migration to the US.

Gael García Bernal, one of Mexico’s most popular actors, said on Twitter that “today is, in effect, 9/11”, a play on the different ways that Americans and Mexicans write their dates. “Build your f***ing wall,” he added. “History will take note of your failed plan to make Mexico pay. And there will always be holes in it.”

EU

A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of populism (Bruno Waterfield writes). Karl Marx’s famous words are often paraphrased but they hit the bull’s-eye yesterday.

Already trembling at the prospect of populist forces gaining ground in French, German and Dutch elections next year, the EU is now terrified about what Donald Trump might mean for the very international order that underpins it.

Donald Tusk president of the European Council, agonised yesterday because the EU is very much a product of the multilateralism that the US brought into life after the Second World War. But now Mr Trump, a self-declared enemy of multilateralism, is hegemon.

Germany

Angela Merkel installed herself as the global guardian of western liberal values by congratulating the new president with a pointed offer of a relationship based on fundamental rights shared by Europe and the US (David Charter writes).

The German chancellor was heralded by Die Zeit newspaper as “the most powerful person on earth who is neither an authoritarian nor has a screw loose” after she delivered a curt message to Mr Trump through gritted teeth. Her statement was also the clearest indication yet that she is preparing to run for a fourth term in the German election next autumn.

The Trump presidency has given her an extra reason to stay on and fight for the values she believes in beyond the European debate about how to deal with huge numbers of refugees.

“Germany and America share the values of democracy, freedom, respect for the rule of law and human dignity, regardless of origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political belief,” Mrs Merkel said.

“On the basis of these values, I offer close co-operation to the future president of the United States of America, Donald Trump.”

Die Zeit said that the Trump presidency left the European Union as the last embodiment of “democracy and reason” on earth.

German commentators said that Mrs Merkel would be left more isolated in trying to resolve the conflict in Ukraine amid fears that Mr Trump could recognise Russia’s seizure of Crimea.

There is a widespread belief that the transatlantic trade and investment partnership, a trade deal between the EU and the US, will die along with the Paris climate agreement. As an export nation — and a world leader in wind turbines — this would be a double whammy for the German economy.

Greece

As the results rolled in hopes of a win for Hillary Clinton crumbled and with them the chance of support for much-needed debt relief.

From the start of the campaign, the government of Alexis Tsipras favoured Mrs Clinton. Last year Mr Trump said that the US had enough problems of its own. “Let Germany handle it,” he said. “The EU was created to compete against America. Why get involved?”

Pundits are now critical of Mr Tsipras’s pro-Clinton stance. “The government’s strategy to place all its support under an Obama-Hillary umbrella leaves it exposed and hanging,” Proto Thema said. “Trump . . . will simply be indifferent to Greece.”

Nato

For Nato, the transatlantic military alliance that has guaranteed security in Europe since the end of the Second World War, Donald Trump’s victory could spell the end of the bloc, if he turns into policy a threat to make America’s defence of an ally contingent on that ally’s defence budget (Deborah Haynes writes).

The deterrent effect of Article 5 — the undertaking that an attack on one member is an attack on all — is the cornerstone of the 28-strong alliance. Any doubt about America’s commitment to that pledge would be disastrous for European security when Nato’s eastern flank is facing increasing threats from Russia.

At the same time, if the threat prompts countries such as France, Germany, Italy and Spain to increase defence spending to at least the minimum Nato requirement of 2 per cent of national income, that would breathe new life into the alliance.

The US — which accounts for 70 per cent of all Nato military spending and has by far the most powerful armed forces — has grown frustrated at the failure of its allies to spend more. Britain is expected to retain its strong defence relationship with the US under Mr Trump because it is one of only four other Nato countries to meet the target.

Asia

If he puts into effect even half of his campaign promises, few regions of the world will be affected more than East Asia (Richard Lloyd Parry writes).

The biggest potential impact is on national security. Many tensions and conflicts have been suppressed by a huge US military presence, and institutionalised in peace treaties with Japan and South Korea. According to the established thinking, the benefits of a peaceful Asia far outweigh the costs of stationing troops overseas. This is what Mr Trump is questioning. He has proposed a once taboo idea — that South Korea and Japan should develop their own nuclear weapons. More central to his thinking is the economic nationalism of “America first”. The trans-pacific partnership, the 12-nation free trade deal made last year, is in dire peril.

 

 

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