Among the legitimate questions is a swirl of speculation. Vladimir Putin and Vladislav Surkov have got in our heads
It is the fashion these days, in certain circles, to see the hand of Moscow behind all of the political turbulence of the present moment: Brexit, Trump, the rise of the European right. John McCain once even suggested that Russia’s real aim in Syria was “to exacerbate the refugee crisis and use it as a weapon to divide the transatlantic alliance and undermine the European project”.
Vladimir Putin must be delighted. Setting aside the question of the extent to which Russia is actually pulling the strings (Robert Mueller will soon tell us what he thinks about the Trump presidential campaign; the arguments around Russia’s role in Brexit rage on), the very fact that people believe in his power to drive massive population movements, bewitch electorates and divide allies is a win for the Kremlin. It is a form of hypnosis in its own right, and Russia tried it out on its own population first before exporting it abroad.