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'Meanwhile, never flinch, never weary, never despair.' - '..the Kremlin "aims to erode the rules-based institutions.." '

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'..For the West, the best strategy is a policy of patience, firmness, and determination to undermine the Putin regime and frustrate its forays — for decades, if need be — until the day when the whole structure of its lies and oppression are put on trial by young Russians.'

'Engaging the Russian People

During the Cold War, Churchill preached a stoic optimism equal to the long task of countering and containing Moscow’s designs. He said of the Russian people that the “machinery of propaganda may pack their minds with falsehood and deny them truth for many generations of time. But the soul of man thus held in trance, or frozen in a long night, can be awakened by a spark coming from God knows where, and in a moment the whole structure of lies and oppression is on trial for its life.”

The power of social media is the true “soft underbelly” of this regime. Putin himself revealed his fear of Facebook and Twitter when he signed new laws requiring social networks to store data on Russian users in Russia, subjecting them to censorship. The public murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemstov has opened the minds of young Russia, giving the West an opportunity to make the most of cracks and crevices in Putin’s firewalls. For the West, the best strategy is a policy of patience, firmness, and determination to undermine the Putin regime and frustrate its forays — for decades, if need be — until the day when the whole structure of its lies and oppression are put on trial by young Russians.

And we should remember Winston Churchill’s final bit of advice as he prepared to leave office: “Meanwhile, never flinch, never weary, never despair.” '

- Mark W. Davis, What Would Churchill Do? May 28, 2015


'In a recent article expanding on this theme, Walker noted that the Kremlin "aims to erode the rules-based institutions that have established global democratic norms and cemented the post-Cold War liberal order." It is also seeking "to check the reform ambitions of aspiring democracies and subvert the vitality of young democratic countries."

The Kremlin frames this in the language of national security and restoring Russia's international role. But at it's core, it is about protecting the interests of a corrupt syndicate.'


'Putin's syndicate is more than a small-time local mafia. It's an international conglomerate that seeks to spread corruption -- and by extension its reach -- beyond its borders.

In a 2012 report for Chatham House, James Greene noted how Putin sought to gain control over Ukraine and Belarus's energy infrastructure by using murky companies "such as EuralTransGas and RosUkrEnergo as carrots for elites, and energy cut-offs as sticks."

But the approach is about more than just energy policy. It's about control.

Greene wrote that by utilizing "the corrupt transnational schemes that flowed seamlessly from Russia to the rest of the former Soviet space -- and oozed beyond it -- Putin could extend his shadow influence beyond Russia's borders and develop a natural 'captured' constituency for maintaining a common Eurasian business space."

And in this sense, the European Union, with all its transparency and accountability, is a mortal threat. Which goes a long way toward explaining Moscow's approach to EU aspirants like Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

"Ukraine’s former President Viktor Yanukovych was clearly 'Russia’s person' in Moscow’s eyes -- if not by convictions, then certainly by virtue of his corrupt relationships and the ties that these created," the European Council on Foreign Relations' Liik wrote.

"Yanukovych's talks with the EU were therefore viewed by Moscow not even as a rebellion by Yanukovych, but as a hostile takeover attempt by the West."

And when Putin's syndicate was unable to stop this by buying off Yanukovych, it resorted to more extreme measures.

"Russia’s destabilization of Ukraine...should be seen for what it is: a Kremlin containment effort to prevent Ukrainians from achieving a democratically accountable government that would threaten Russia’s corrupt authoritarian system," Christopher Walker, executive director of the National Endowment for Democracy’s International Forum for Democratic Studies, wrote last year in The Washington Post.

In a recent article expanding on this theme, Walker noted that the Kremlin "aims to erode the rules-based institutions that have established global democratic norms and cemented the post-Cold War liberal order." It is also seeking "to check the reform ambitions of aspiring democracies and subvert the vitality of young democratic countries."

The Kremlin frames this in the language of national security and restoring Russia's international role. But at it's core, it is about protecting the interests of a corrupt syndicate.'

- Brian Whitmore, The Putin Syndicate, June 09, 2015


Context

'If the West shows firmness in opposing [Russian influence in Eastern Europe]..'