The crisis in our liberal democracies is strengthening the Kremlin’s hand, making it the dangerous foe of MI5’s and Nato’s warnings
Lenin once said: “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” Vladimir Putin is no Lenin, nor can his regime – run by an elite that enjoys offshore accounts and oligarchic privileges – quite be described as anti-capitalist. Yet in Russia’s new confrontation with the west, the Kremlin’s strategy is to exploit western weaknesses and confusion as much as it is geared towards showing a bellicose face, whether in Ukraine, Syria or cyberspace. Perhaps this is why the head of MI5 has warned of the need to fend off Russia’s hostile interference.
Lenin is not Putin’s ideological guru. Foreigners, whether public officials or investors, who have at length met with Putin sometimes point to his particular brand of pragmatism (even if Angela Merkel once said he “lives in another world”). If he senses strong pushback, he adapts. If he detects gaps, he strikes at the Achilles heel.