Putin’s meddling in US elections backfiring on his own allies at home and on Americans who helped them, Shevtsova says

Russian state crest in front of full moon (Image: vedomosti.ru)


Analysis & Opinion, Russia

The Kremlin’s effort to affect the outcome of the 2016 US presidential elections has provoked one consequence Moscow has long wanted – the demoralization of the American elite – but it is having other less welcome ones on both that elite and the Russian one, something only becoming clear, Lilia Shevtsova says.

Lilia Shevtsova

Lilia Shevtsova

The American investigation into Russia’s involvement is rapidly spreading from a focus on the Trump campaign itself to the Clinton campaign and more generally to the American establishment, some of whose members have shown themselves interested in gaining wealth at any price, the Russian analyst says.

That has discredited the American elite, Shevtsova continues, but this is not the end of the story.

On the one hand, the Russian scandal is spreading to Europe where 29 governments have already demanded the release of information about anonymous investors from Russia in businesses there.

And on the other, she says, it is sparking developments within the American elite as well as within the Russian elite as the members of both try to figure out ways to save themselves even if they have to sacrifice those with whom they were all too ready to cooperate in order to enrich themselves in the recent past.

“Over the course of decades of globalization, that is of open borders, the Russian elite has been able to form in the West a solid base for a comfortable existence. In its turn, the Western lobbyist leviathan, interested in corrupt Russia which had become for it a source of enrichment has created for the Russian autocracy a favorable international milieu.”

Had it not been for Putin’s decision to engage in election manipulations, Shevtsova says, this comfortable and mutually convenient arrangement “might have continued for a long time yet.” But now the ongoing investigations are going to bring all that to an inglorious and fateful end.

What has surfaced so far is “only the beginning,” she argues; and it is going to have an impact not only in the US and its relations with Russia but inside Russia as well. That is because those who will be exposed or fear being exposed in the US will seek to save themselves by denouncing Russia, and those involved in Russia will try to save themselves from sanctions by portraying themselves as opponents of what the Kremlin has been doing.

That is because both groups, focused only on gaining wealth, will conclude that there is no other way to “save themselves,” Shevtsova says. And that is what they will try to do.

The American elite will become more hostile to Russia, and the Russian elite will find itself trapped by the Kremlin system.

Russians, whose money in the West has allowed them a certain freedom, aren’t going to want to repatriate that given conditions in their own country, but they also aren’t going to want to become victims of Western sanctions or other criminal penalties. They thus find themselves “hostages” to regime they are at odds with.

Until very recently, Shevtsova says, “the Russian system successfully made use in its own interests of Western ‘hypocrisy,’ but now the time has come when the US has the chance to make use of the hypocrisy of the Russian elite” about having money in countries they otherwise hate.

They want a way out of this trap, and Vladimir Putin clearly recognizes how dangerous this search could be for him. At the summit in Vietnam, he called for “turning the page” and forming “harmonious relations with the US,” not because he really believes in that but because he fears what will happen if that page is not turned and relations don’t change.

But unfortunately for Putin, the Trump administration can’t respond as the Kremlin leader hopes because any move toward warmer ties with the Russians “will become political suicide.”

How the US “will exploit the dependence of Russians is still unclear,” but it now has leverage and appears ready to use it. And consequently, members of the Russian elite, in many ways like the members of the American one, are asking what they have to do “in exchange for immunity and the preservation of their wealth.”

That challenge for the Russians is even greater than for the Americans, yet another way that Putin’s actions have backfired on his country and on himself.

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Edited by: A. N.

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  • zorbatheturk

    The Latin phrase abyssus abyssum invocat would appear to apply to Emperor Putinius Caesar.

    • slavko

      nice one! soon the whole world will PutinVladsass :)))

  • Ihor Dawydiak

    Putin should be scared. In fact, he should be very scared. As Russia’s primary purloiner and abettor of ill gotten gains, Putin has surrounded himself with other thieving oligarchs who have carefully invested much of their wealth in countries ruled or which are very closely associated with the Western powers. In that way their wealth has grown exponentially but for how long? To state it more bluntly, the possibility of a major catastrophe could very easily affect each and every one of those oligarchs. Without warning, all of their assets could either be seized or frozen. What would they do if such a calamity were to occur? Would they appeal to the UN? That would be laughable. Would they appeal to the International Court of Justice in The Hague? More laughs as that would take years to resolve and would not guarantee that they would be able to retrieve their assets. If not that avenue, would they appeal to the Western powers? Now, that would be even more hilarious. Or perhaps it would be much easier to get rid of Putin and his riff raff. Yup, Putin should be scared, very scared.

    • veth



      • Dagwood Bumstead

        The sheep should consider themselves lucky if they get ANY pension at all! With the Reserve Fund gone and the country’s last reserve the National Welfare Fund, which was intended for pensions and other social expenditures, being drained at an alarming rate to fund the dwarf’s insane wars in Syria and the Donbas there won’t be any money by the end of 2018. The dwarf has already slashed the budgets for health care and education, plus the subsidies to South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transnistria, the so-called DNR and LNR and the Crimea, but that hasn’t been nearly enough.
        A few lucky ones may be able to live with Medvedev’s ducks in their private dacha and share the ducks’ food, but most won’t be so fortunate.

        • Screwdriver

          Dwarf was present today, no surprises here, but Dagestan is missing..what happened ??

          • MichaelA

            why do you go on about dagestan all the time?

      • Screwdriver

        Nothing from UNIAN today ?

    • MichaelA

      worst thing for russian elite will be a cleanup of their nest eggs in the west
      most of their funds are salted away in britain, usa etc
      many ukrainian oligarchs also