The Sun is reporting that Vladimir Putin’s government has staged rehearsals for a massive victory parade and “show of strength” to mark a key World War II anniversary. Meanwhile, Slate has published a new report claiming that Putin is actively cultivating ties to groups on the left and right of American politics, with a view to influencing and perhaps meddling in Western affairs.
“Moscow’s interest in these groups is, in a sense, understandable. There’s a widespread belief in Russia that it was the United States, despite its official policy to the contrary, that pried apart the USSR, stoking nationalist elements in Ukraine and elsewhere in pursuit of Soviet fracture.”
The Slate report claims that Putin and his Moscow government are motivated by a deeply entrenched distrust of the United States that is rooted in a perception that the U.S. played a role in dismantling the Soviet Union.
“Kremlin higher-ups continue to state that the U.S. would prefer a world without Russia.”
The new accusations center around a man named Louis Marinalli, a leader in the California secession movement.
The report claims that Marinelli’s group, which pushed for California to secede from the U.S. and become a separate sovereign nation, was funded by the Kremlin.
“[The group] had gained certain steam following the November election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, pushing to place a question on California secession on the state’s 2018 ballot.”
Why would Putin care about a push to make California a separate country?
The report claims that Vladimir Putin is “looking to exacerbate American domestic divisions in order to distract and hamper Washington, sapping American energies that could have been spent elsewhere.”
The report even claims that Putin is funding groups with many different, incompatible agendas because he has seen in Europe that encouraging people to focus on many disparate issues will ultimately benefit him.
In his home country, Putin is apparently keen to avoid a situation where the public is all pulling in the same direction because this would pose the most threat to his centralized, authoritarian government.
According to the provocative report, Putin wishes to create a parallel situation in the American context, and he is trying to achieve this by funding many different small groups with “fractious agendas” on both the left and right of politics.
“As with their European counterparts, the diffuse American groups and movements linked to Russia share little policy overlap. Nonetheless, they each pursue end goals that, unsurprisingly, match Moscow’s fractious policies.”
The report states that “[t]hese movements appear to be modern incarnations of the types of ‘useful idiots’ popularized in Soviet jargon.”
Some commentators have observed a trend of blaming Putin for inconvenient or embarrassing situations in American public life. Some Putin-lovers are already scoffing that the new Slate report is just the latest manifestation of that farcical trend.
Indeed, the idea that Putin is motivated to fund groups on both the left and right is a convenient one for American officials to promote. It would allow public figures to point the finger and yell “Putin!” over literally any inconvenient situation, regardless of whether the perpetrators/groups come from the left or the right of politics.
An in-depth passage in the Slate report lists a few of the groups on the right that Putin has allegedly had a hand in funding. The writer goes on to state that Putin could also be motivated to pursue allies on the left out of convenience and due to the belief many Leftists hold that American imperialism is out of control, which Putin could potentially use to his advantage.
“Moscow’s threads of support through the Western far-right—especially those in Europe—have been well-catalogued, ranging from overseeing aforementioned conferences, to hosting Hungary’s Jobbik in separatist-occupied eastern Ukraine, to funneling funds to France’s National Front. But much as Moscow has fanned far-right actors bent on unwinding a post–Cold War liberal order, the Kremlin has espied potential support from those on the opposite end of the political spectrum, who view Russia as both an ally of convenience and an innocent government supposedly wracked by American imperialism.”
Meanwhile, rehearsals for a victory parade have taken place in Moscow, according to The Sun.
“More than 70 planes and helicopters practised manoeuvres overhead with the world’s largest military transport helicopter Mi-26 escorted by a quartet of Mi-8 helicopters set to open the show.”
The event will mark Russia’s defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.
The Sun called the display a “massive showcase of military power.”
[Featured Image by Adam Berry/Getty Images]