When the far-left Syriza party took power in Greece in 2015, there were fears (including here) that it might trade the country’s Western alliance for an entente with Moscow.
The party had called for a “refoundation of Europe” away from Cold War divisions and its leader and the new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, suggested Greece could serve as a “bridge” between East and West.
Donald Trump doesn’t understand why Russian “resets” have failed in the past, tweeting, “Bush tried to get along, but didn’t have the ‘smarts.’ Obama and Clinton tried, but didn’t have the energy or chemistry.”
The real reason, as Ryan Bohl has explained here, is that America and Russia have diametrically opposed interests in Europe. “Smarts” or personal chemistry has nothing to do with it.
Italy’s election can’t keep Vladimir Putin up at night. No matter which party comes out on top, the Russian leader can expect a friendly government in Rome.
The center-left Democrats may be the least Russophile of the four major parties, but they still have a soft spot for Russia. Their leader, Matteo Renzi, threatened to block the renewal of EU sanctions in 2015. Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign-policy coordinator, has been criticized by Eastern Europeans and NGOs for not taking a hard enough line against Russia.
Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister and leader of Forza Italia, is on famously good terms with Putin.
His allies in the Northern League — who, in turn, ally with Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France — are openly sympathetic of Putin, whom they see as a defender of traditional, Christian values.
Because Russia promotes an agenda that is native to Europe, few seem to realize this Second Cold War is just as ideological as the first.
If anything, the fact that Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine can tap into a homegrown Western reactionary movement that shares its beliefs makes the ideological challenge he poses more insidious. Read more “This New Cold War Is Ideological Too”
Back in March, I wondered if anybody in Donald Trump’s inner circle wasn’t in touch with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The answer, we know now, is no. The Russians were all over Trump’s team.
Whether this was collusion or a case of collective and massive misjudgment is something Robert Mueller, the special counsel, must find out, but clearly the Russians were trying to influence the outcome of the election.