Trump sought to add $1.4 billion for fiscal year 2018 to the European Deterrence Initiative — a military effort to deter Russian aggression that was initially known as the European Reassurance Initiative. That's a 41 percent increase from the last year of the Obama administration.
Trump also agreed to send some pretty sophisticated weapons to Ukraine, which they are currently using to blow up Russian tanks. This is a step which Obama did not take (just noting the difference).
Trump gave U.S. forces in Syria more leeway to engage with Russian troops.
The Trump administration also imposed sanctions on dozens of Russian oligarchs and government officials.
Perhaps most importantly, Trump realized that one of the best ways to keep Russia down was to compete with them in oil and gas. He aggressively promoted US energy exports and projects like the Keystone pipeline. The reversal of these policies under Biden has helped Russia economically.
All of this has to be weighed against Trump's rhetoric toward Putin, which was as bizarre as it was consistently friendly in nature. It also didn't seem to match up with the underlying policy. This is probably what leads lots of people to believe that he was overly soft on Russia. I'm not saying that he was perfect, but I also don't think it's fair to characterize these policies as "soft".
Source 3: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/trump-imposes-major-sanctions-russian-oligarchs-officials-companies-n863271
I also read that NPR article from 2018. Here's some more context, and what happened in the following 2 years.
In 2020 Trump diverted the money he pledged to the European Deterrence Initiative to fund the Mexico border wall.
The $39 million in sales to Ukraine is a fraction of the $400 million he withheld until Zelenskyy agreed to announce an investigation into his political rival.
While Obama did not provide lethal aid to Ukraine, he did provide $75 million in non-lethal aid including surveillance drones, radios, humvees, and night vision goggles.
The 2018 sanctions approved by Trump were one of a long history of sanctions imposed against the Russian government dating back to 2014, and they were neither notable nor particularly effective.
"The reversal of these policies under Biden has helped Russia economically." I would love to see a source on that. Here's mine that says "U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas to Europe exceeded Russia’s pipeline deliveries. Russian exports, which normally account for about 30% of Europe’s gas use, dropped substantially because of Russian pricing. And with European gas prices about four times as high as normal, U.S. exports surged to fill the gap."
Biden generic old white dnc yes-man that got shoved to the top of the pile by riding on Obama's coattails.