Russia has been at war, even when it hasn’t been. When the Cold War ended, there were two types of Russians, the ones ready for the new world order, and the ones who yearned for the days of being a superpower. Vladimir Putin is the superpower Russian, not that you needed to read that here to know that. All of Vladimir Putin’s moves since his KGB days have been carefully calculated to return Russia to the head of the table. Ultimately, Putin wants a world led by him and his Russian oligarchs. So let’s examine what Putin has needed to do to achieve superpower status and how he’s gone about doing it.
1. Unravel the European Union
The European Union came about for many reasons, but one of them was to present a united European front and put forth united European interests in the faces of friends and enemies alike. For Russia, fighting a nation like Latvia is one thing, but fighting against all of Europe is another. And the same goes for dealings in trade. The EU is a far more powerful entity than Russia on the global stage. However, individually, none of the European nations match Russia’s standing. Therefore, Putin wants the union undone.
To undo the EU, Putin has engaged in both overt and covert action. Overt: Annexing Crimea and using pro-Russia nationalists to try and take over Ukraine and other Eastern European nations. Covert: Cyber warfare. How has Russia engaged in cyber warfare against the EU you ask? By using its social media bots and misinformation to fuel Brexit (the U.K.’s exit from the European Union) and other ultra-nationalist movements.
More than that, Russia has also supported the Syrian regime that has displaced millions of Syrians who have fled to Europe. Europe is now experiencing an immigration crisis that is difficult both logistically and politically. The immigration wave following the Syrian massacre has sprouted more above-referenced nationalist movements in several Western European nations. And guess what they want to do? Close their own borders and carve themselves out of the European Union. Game, set, match to Putin.
(Note: This same paragraph could have been written about NATO.)
2. Sow Discord In the United States
What’s funny is that Russia had no idea that Trump would win the Presidency. Their goal was just to make American politics as chaotic as possible by putting as many lies out there on social media as they thought we’d eat up. Well, they got a heck of a lot more than they bargained for. Not only is Washington broken but they have someone doing a great job of impersonating a Russian asset sitting in the White House. Donald Trump is someone Russia couldn’t have concocted in a lab if they had tried.
We now live in a world where Germany considers the U.S. an enemy for the first time since the end of World War II. A sitting U.S. President has identified the EU as the United States’ biggest foe. Our real biggest foe, Russia, launched a cyber attack in an effort to undermine our democracy and our President not only waffles on it openly, but he has previously called for Russia to aid in his campaign efforts. The United States has become Putin’s wet dream. It says a lot more about American society than it does about Russian prowess that we’re where we are right now as a country. Shame on us.
3. Revamp the Russian Economy
The Russian economy is almost wholly reliant on its oil. You don’t need to be a Rhodes Scholar to know that an oil-based economy is not the wave of the future. Unfortunately for Russia, the oligarchs who back Putin are oil magnates. That means that there is not going to be a push to move the country forward in terms of innovation any time soon.
In short, Russia may succeed in toppling its greatest foes, but it won’t succeed in taking a place at the head of the table. Congratulations to China. We hope they send Putin a nice thank you present.
P.S. Thanks to our reader Jay from L.A. for spotting our typo!