Against Europe, Putin’s recruitment campaign

The Kremlin is bending towards political EU groups that oppose the integration process

In 2015 Russia is bound to become a major player on various international planes, not necessarily acting as a stabilizing force. It is a fact that Putin appreciates direct, burly foreign policy regardless of international organizations and their procedures, an “Eighteenth-century” kind of foreign policy aimed at increasing Moscow’s power and its influence over Europe and Asia, without hiding in the folds of rhetoric speech. Russia’s serious economic is also a result of the sanctions imposed by Western economies after the Ukrainian crisis, of low oil prices, as well as of internal distortions and fragility. However, Putin won’t let himself be ensnared and raised the bids at a purely political level, which befits him the most.That’s why a few months ago the Kremlin started approaching various European political groups marked by strong opposition to the process of European integration and against the economic policies dictated by Brussels/Frankfurt. Russia’s 9 million euro grant in support of the election campaign of Marine Le Pen and her Front National in France is no longer a secret, nor are the ongoing contacts between Putin’s Party and Nigel Farage’s UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party). Also Matteo Salvini’s Northern League in Italy, ever less interested in federalism and ever more similar to a typical far-right populist party, is engaged in ongoing relations with several Russian political leaders in the President’s entourage. The “Russian Union” (a party representing Russian-speaking minorities in Latvia), Fidesz, (led by Hungarian prime minister Victor Orban) along with other nationalistic political parties in other EU Countries, all appear to be on Putin’s same wavelength. However, while the nationalism of Mr. Putin, a former-KGB officer, is rooted in the old Soviet Communist Party, it turns out that also the new Greek government chaired by Alexis Tsipras looks forward to Moscow with interest. Athens’ Foreign Minister has already envisioned the possibility of gearing Greece’s foreign policy closer to Moscow and to the Donbass separatists regarding the Ukraine question, while Tsipras was personally reassured by the Russian ambassador that Putin’s government is willing to give financial support to Greece in case Brussels (and Berlin) should turn a blind eye to the requests of cutting its debt. The EU is proceeding on a slippery slope, marked by manifold tensions, lacking vigour and political vision. A large portion of the public opinion in important Member countries perceives Community institutions as scarcely democratic, responsible for ever-burdensome constrictions. Germany, along with some Nordic Countries, is ever more intolerant of high foreign-debt economies, considered irresponsible and unreliable. Putin fans the flames of these divisions, seeking to take advantage from them. He does so by exerting external pressure on the Ukrainian conflict and by supporting friendly parties inside the EU in order to further weaken the Union, whilst furthering Moscow’s claims. If Ukraine’s debt forced Kiev to declare insolvency, or if a phase of instability loomed on the horizon of Saudi Arabia following the death of King Abdullah, causing a rise in oil prices, Putin would regain strength, and would become more assertive, according to his own style. Unquestionably, European politics are changing, disposing of the traditional left-right divisions. Themes such as EU’s future, immigration, the frontiers of biotechnology, all require solid political proposals that fail to come into play. The only strong voices on the scenario are heard by populist movements. At the same time, there is a want of a realistic, far-sighted vision regarding foreign policy. Russia is not Europe’s ally, but it cannot become its enemy. It must become a partner with which cooperation is possible, as it is a crucial partner in many areas, starting from the fight against ISIS.

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