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Russia’s Dark Arts

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If anyone thought that the collapse of the old Soviet empire marked the end of Russia they were wrong. Yes, there was a very depressed decadeand-a-half until things were stabilised, and the oil and gas monies started to flow into the national coffers. But side by side with an often brutal suppressio­n of dissidence, not to mention the war against Chechnyan separatism, a new and very sophistica­ted cyber strategy took shape as former KGB colonel Vlad Putin took the reins.

It is working very well. It’s very dangerous too. As for the US election, Trump says he believes Putin when the latter says the Russians weren’t involved. But he’s on his own there. People who know better disagree.

For example, the CIA director John Brennan said in May that Russia “brazenly interfered” in the US election.

Parts of the story involve contacts between Trump’s campaign and various Russian players. At the end of October Trump aides Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates were charged with criminal activity including conspiracy against the United States. Separately, it was revealed that George Papadopoul­os (30), a former foreign policy adviser to

Trump’s campaign, had been arrested in July and had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials. There’s a lot more to come on this and Trump himself is in the sightline.

The thing is, it’s a general strategy. The Russians appear to have been active in Brexit and in a range of elections right across Europe over the last year or so, weighing in on the side of far right parties. It’s unlikely that the Russians actually favour the far right. It’s much more likely that their intent is to destabilis­e Europe and the US. More chaos!

If so, it’s working, at least for now. You mightn’t like it but you have to admit that they’ve gone about this with rare purpose and cunning. Russia isn’t just back, it’s back with a bang.

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