In the days following U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin both declaring intentions to expand their respective countries' nuclear arsenals, using chillingly similar language, Putin has continued to flatter Trump, and Trump has continued to align himself ever more closely with the Russian authoritarian.

After Vladimir Putin gave a speech in which he advocated the “need to strengthen the strategic nuclear forces,” Donald Trump responded with a cryptic tweet:

Asked to clarify his tweet by the Morning Joe team, Trump said: “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”

To believe that Trump was suggesting an arms race against one another gets it precisely wrong, as explained by Sarah Kendzior: “Rather than engaging in an arms race against each other, Trump and Putin are possibly teaming up as nuclear partners against shared targets.” This is not the beginning of an idea, but rather the culmination of one.

Trump has been obsessed with nuclear weapons for several decades, and has expressed his desire to coordinate with Russia on nuclear policy since the 1980s. In 1984 Trump, backed by Roy Cohn, the political operative who advised Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon, proclaimed his goal of negotiating nuclear deals with the Soviets: “It would take an hour-and-a-half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles,” Trump said. “I think I know most of it anyway. You’re talking about just getting updated on a situation… You know who really wants me to do this? Roy… I’d do it in a second.”

…In 1987, Trump made his goal of Russian collaboration on nuclear power explicit: The Soviet Union and the US should partner to form a nuclear superpower with the intention of intimidating other countries into dropping their own nuclear plans.

“Most of those [pre-nuclear] countries are in one form or another dominated by the US and the Soviet Union,” Trump told journalist Roy Rosenbaum. “Between those two nations you have the power to dominate any of those countries. So we should use our power of economic retaliation and they use their powers of retaliation, and between the two of us we will prevent the problem from happening. It would have been better having done something five years ago. But I believe even a country such as Pakistan would have to do something now. Five years from now they’ll laugh.”

…1987 was also the first year Trump visited Russia, which was then part of the Soviet Union. In 1988, he attempted to meet with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, reportedly to sell him on his nuclear plan. This meeting never happened. At this time, Trump also began proclaiming his presidential ambitions and taking out newspaper advertisements harshly criticizing US foreign policy.

Now, in appreciation of his willingness to breach decades of diplomatic standards to align the United States’ interests with Russia, Putin has sent Trump a flattering letter, addressed to “His Excellency Donald Trump,” which Trump published in an official statement, saying, “A very nice letter from Vladimir Putin; his thoughts are so correct.”

Putin then spoke highly of Trump at his annual news conference in Moscow, and sharply criticized the Democrats: “They are losing on all fronts and looking elsewhere for things to blame. In my view this, how shall I say it, degrades their own dignity. You have to know how to lose with dignity.”

Putin did not name Hillary Clinton, but his personally directed interference in the election was the result of his “vendetta” against Clinton, dating back to 2011, when he held her responsible for mass protests in Moscow following an election the protestors accused him of rigging. Clinton, then U.S. Secretary of State, had issued a statement critical of the voting results.

In 2016, Putin sought his vengeance. But he refuses to acknowledge the role he and the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, played in the U.S. election, instead calling the Democrats sore losers looking for someone else to blame.

Trump jumped all over Putin’s reprehensible statements, in yet another alarming tweet:

What is incredibly disturbing about Trump’s response (among many things) is that, by aligning himself with Putin on disparagement of Clinton, Trump is putting his stamp of approval on both Putin’s subversion of democracy — in his own country and ours — as well as Putin’s vengeance against Clinton for rightly criticizing Putin’s subversion of democracy.

Democratic leaders have led the way in calling for a bipartisan, independent investigation into Russian interference in the election, with very few of their Republican colleagues willing to join them. As Trump’s ground-shifting alliance with the authoritarian Putin grows, publicly and brazenly, political leaders — especially those of Trump’s own party — must absolutely and without delay muster the courage to address this urgent national crisis.

I will say once again: All my years have been spent listening to Republicans tell me how it is they who are the great patriots of this nation. That it is progressives like me, with our bleeding-heart liberalism and our empathy and our egalitarianism, who would see America brought to its knees with our capitulation.

Yet now, in this moment, in the middle of a profound and urgent national crisis, with evidence of foreign subversion of our democracy and a President-elect whose own fealty to this nation is deeply suspect, the Great Patriots of the Republican Party are nowhere to be found.

This is intolerable. Every patriot of this nation must reject what Donald Trump is doing. There is no time to spare.