Experts weigh in on what Trump-Putin bond could mean

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If Donald Trump is elected president, he could push for an American foreign policy that is more favorable to Russian President Vladimir Putin's goals and interests, some experts fear — and he could unnerve U.S. allies.

Trump's praise for Putin's "strong" leadership has already caused issues, said Evelyn Farkas, a former deputy assistant defense secretary for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia in the Obama administration and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

"He's already done damage to us vis-a-vis Russia as a candidate. I frankly shudder to think what he could to U.S. interests as commander-in-chief and president," Farkas told NBC News.

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Donald Trump through the years
Donald Trump pauses in his apartment 5/20 after receiving the news that the Board of Estimate unanimously approved a 40-year tax abatement plan. Under the plan Trump will purchase and refurbish the Commodore Hotel, which closed into doors 5/18, from the Penn Central Transportation Corp. In return for his $10-million-dollar purchase and up to $100 million face-lifting investment, Trump will have no real estate taxes for 40 years.

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Real estate developer Donald Trump announces intentions to build a $100 million dollar Regency Hotel.

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Donald Trump with Alfred Eisenpreis, New York City Economic Development Administrator. Sketch of new 1,400 room Renovation project of Commodore Hotel.

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Donald Trump stands behind architect's model of City Hall Plaza.

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Donald Trump and Ivana Trump attend Roy Cohn's birthday party in February 1980 in New York City.

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Donna Mills and Donald Trump during 1983 Annual American Image Awards at Sheraton Center in New York City, New York, United States.

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Donald Trump attends 38th Annual Horatio Alger Awards Dinner on May 10, 1985 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City.

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Portrait of real estate mogul Donald John Trump (b.1946), smiling slightly and facing to his right, 1983. New York.

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Boxing promoter Don King holds up the arms of Mike Tyson and former champion Larry Holmes during a press conference here 12/1. Looking on is Donald Trump. The fight will be held at the Trump Plaza Hotel.

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Donald Trump, real estate mogul, entrepreneur, and billionare poses in the foyer of his home in August 1987 in Greenwich, Connecticut.

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Donald Trump Jr. and Donald Trump during 1988 U.S. Open - September 3, 1988 at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, New York, United States.

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Ivana Trump and Donald Trump during Mike Tyson vs Michael Spinks Fight at Trump Plaza - June 27, 1988 at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States.

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Billionaire Donald Trump and his wife Ivana arrive 04 December 1989 at a social engagement in New York.

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Donald Trump and Daughter Ivanka Trump during Maybelline Presents 1991 Look of the Year at Plaza Hotel in New York City, New York, United States.

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Donald Trump attends 'Hoop-La' Special Olympics Basketball Game on June 25, 1992 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

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Donald Trump and Joan Rivers during Opening of The Rose Room in the Plaza Hotel at Plaza Hotel Rose Room in New York City, New York, United States.

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Donald Trump touches 07 April 1993 Marla Maples stomach to confirm published reports that the actress is pregnant with his child. The two arrived for Maples appearance in the Broadway musical 'The Will Rogers Follies'.

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US business tycoon Donald Trump enters the PLaza Hotel in New York past supporters 21 December 1994. Hundreds of supporters showed up at a news conference where Trump denied a New York newspaper report that the Sultan of Brunei had bid 300 million USD to buy the Manhattan hotel.

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Donald Trump and Christine Whitman during Opening of New Warner Bros. Store in Trump Plaza Casino at Trump Plaza Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States.

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Donald Trump attends Marc Jacobs Fashion Show on April 4, 1995 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

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Boxing: IBC Heavyweight Title: View of celebrity businessman Donald Trump and actor Steven Seagal seated ringside during Lennox Lewis vs Tommy Morrison fight at Boardwalk Convention Hall. Atlantic City, NJ. (Photo by John Iacono /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) 

New York real estate giant Donald Trump poses in his Trump Tower office on a giant letter 'T' on May 8, 1996.

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Portrait of Marla Maples and her husband, businessman Donald Trump, with their daughter Tiffany, as they pose together at the Mar-a-Lago estate, Palm Beach, Florida, 1996.

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Donald Trump and Ron Delsner backstage at a KISS concert at Madison Squre Garden in New York City on July 25, 1996.

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Donald Trump attending Halloween party thrown by Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss at the Supper Club to kick off Fashion Week.  

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Donald Trump open his new building at 1 Center Park West- The new Trump International Hotel and Tower.

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Donald Trump and his girlfriend Celina Midelfar watch Conchita Martinez and Amanda Coetzer 07 September at US Open in Flushing Meadows, NY.

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Celine Dion, husband Rene, Donald Trump & Ivanka Trump

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Entrepreneur Donald Trump and Rev. Al Sharpton speak at a ribbon cutting ceremony for Sharpton's National Action Network Convention April 5, 2002 in New York City. The group aims to further the development of civil rights.

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Donald Trump and his girlfriend Melania Knauss attend the Marc Bouwer/Peta Fall/Winter 2002 Collection show February 14, 2002 during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City.

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Donald Trump at Madison Square Garden

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Donald Trump stands on the sidelines before the start of the AFC divisional playoffs between the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans on January 10, 2004 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Temperatures have reached as low as 7 degrees in the Foxboro area.

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Donald Trump, Visionary Business Leader award honoree, poses with his children Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka at Fashion Group International's 22nd Annual 'Night Of Stars' at Cipriani's 42nd Street October 27, 2005 in New York City.

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Eric Trump and Donald Trump attend the Chicago Bulls vs New Jersey Nets game at the IZOD Center on October 31, 2007 in East Rutherford, New York.

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 Donald Trump delivers a speech with his son Barron after he was honored with the 2,327th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, CA, 16 January 2007.

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Portrait of former model Melania Trump and her husband, businessman Donald Trump, as they sit together at a table during the 16th annual 'Lady in Red' gala, hosted by LIFE (Leaders In Furthering Education), at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, December 4, 2009.

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Donald Trump sands with Miss Universe 2009 Stefania Fernandez of Venezuela prior to the Miss Universe 2010 Pageant Final at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas on August 23, 2010. Miss Universe is an annual international beauty pageant and along with the Miss World is the most publicized beauty contest in the world. California clothing company Pacific Mills founded the contest 1952 and was acquired by Donald Trump in 1996.

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US tycoon Donald Trump arrives to speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, outside Washington, on February 27, 2015.

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Donald Trump speaks during the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at the 2015 NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibits on April 10, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. The annual NRA meeting and exhibit runs through Sunday.

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Real estate mogul and billionaire Donald Trump attends Golf legend Jack Nicklaus' Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda March 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. Trump announed on March 18 that he has launched a presidential exploratory committee.

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Businessman Donald Trump speaks to guests gathered for the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner at the Iowa Events Center on May 16, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The event sponsored by the Republican Party of Iowa gave several Republican presidential hopefuls an opportunity to strengthen their support among Iowa Republicans ahead of the 2016 Iowa caucus.

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Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump visits his Scottish golf course Turnberry with his children Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump on July 30, 2015 in Ayr, Scotland. Donald Trump answered questions from the media at a press conference.

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U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at his election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.

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Singer Kanye West and President-elect Donald Trump speak with the press after their meetings at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 in New York.

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Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump poses for a photo after an interview with Reuters in his office in Trump Tower, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., May 17, 2016.

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 Coverage of the 2016 Republican National Convention from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, which airs on all ABC News programs and platforms. On this final night of the convention, Donald Trump accepts the party's nomination for President of the United States.

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U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts to an answer his wife Melania gives during an interview on NBC's "Today" show in New York, April 21, 2016.

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President-elect Donald Trump speaks to reporters following his meeting with Jack Ma, Chairman of Alibaba Group, meeting at Trump Tower, January 9, 2017 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.

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Trump's effusive admiration for Putin, who Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, referred to on Thursday as "a thug, a dictator, an autocratic ruler who has his opposition killed in the streets of Russia" has baffled many, including some in his own party. The Republican nominee recently rattled NATO partners in the Baltics when he suggested that he might not rush to their aid.

Putin annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine, and Russia is the primary suspect in the hacking of the Democratic National Convention computers — just to name a few actions that have made the icy relationship with the U.S. even chillier in recent years.

Despite a history of differences, the U.S.'s relationship with Russia is not without hope: Late Friday, the two countries reached a ceasefire agreement to allow humanitarian aid into war-ravaged Syria. Secretary of State John Kerry hailed it as a possible "turning point."

But the agreement - which was welcomed by Turkey, the European Union, and other world powers - comes at a tenuous time in Syria's five-year-old civil war. Hours after it was announced, air strikes killed dozens in Syria.

Either way, long-standing disagreements between America and Russia haven't stopped Trump from heaping on the compliments of Putin.

"The man has very strong control over a country," Trump told Matt Lauer Wednesday during NBC's Commander-in-Chief Forum. "It's a very different system and I don't happen to like the system, but certainly, in that system, he's been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader."

Related: Did Putin Really Call Trump 'Brilliant'? Experts Say It Got Lost in Translation

Nina Khrushcheva, a great-granddaughter of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and a professor of international affairs at The New School, feels the Trump-Putin rapport could go one of two ways should Trump become president.

"It will supposedly be a very positive relationship," she told NBC News. "But since Putin and Trump in some ways are similar — that is, they say it like it is and really don't mind the consequences — it also is entirely possible and likely that that relationship will collapse quickly because one will insult the other and try to show each other who's the better man."

Related: Why Russians Like Donald Trump (Sort of)

"The Cuban Missile Crisis would be nothing in comparison to what we would expect" if they had a fallout, Khrushcheva said. "I think either way, Trump's love for Putin or potential hate for Putin would lead to incredible world insecurity."

Other than a shared desire to eliminate North Korea's weapons program, Russia holds very few of the same major objectives as the U.S., Farkas said.

That means as president, Trump could push to change existing foreign policies dealing with Russia.

"We have an obligation to come to our NATO allies if they are attacked by a state such as Russia, and there is a very real threat being posed to our allies who are close to Russia's border," Farkas said.

If Trump reduces confidence among our allies that we will come to their defense, it "can lead to a whole chain of negative repercussions. Ultimately, the stability of Europe is in the interest of the United States, not just for political reasons but because they are our number one trading partner," she added.

In Asia, there could be more consequences, due to Russia's solidarity with China on global disputes.

"There are a number of horrendous scenarios because Putin's objectives are not aligned with ours in many places," Farkas said.

Related: Kerry: Deal With Russia Could Be 'Turning Point' in Syria War

Another Russia expert pointed out that Trump's compliments as a candidate might not indicate anything at all about how he governs if he's elected.

Anna Vassilieva, a professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, said there's no way to speculate. What is clear, though, is why the businessman-turned-politician connects with Putin.

"Trump obviously positions himself as a maverick, an anti-establishment candidate," Vassilieva told NBC News. "Putin is an independent politician. He's not succumbing to pressure, and there's a lot of pressure — from the West, of course, and the United States, the establishment."

"He's not obliged to do things. And I think that's something that's appealing to Trump." she said.

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