Is it profitable to Putin all this talk about Russia?

Ever since the cold war policy in the United States were not so much confined to Russia, as it is now. Suspicions that the President tried to stop the investigation of the relations of its election headquarters with Moscow jeopardize his political future. Russia and the United States closer to a confrontation in the airspace of Syria. Almost daily there are news about Russia’s attempts to inject false information in last year’s political debate and (what is much more alarming) to carry out hacking hacking software polling in several States. The Senate, ignoring the objections of the administration, almost unanimously voted for the introduction of new sanctions against Russia and measures limiting the ability of trump to mitigate them. The concerns of allies distancing of the President from NATO and its exit from the Paris climate agreement based on the fear of what it contributes to the main goal of Vladimir Putin, which is to split the Western Alliance.

All of these very different events share the belief that Putin, who for almost two decades is the paramount leader of Russia, became a figure of almost mythical power, subtly and deftly makes his moves on the international chessboard. But if you talk to two young Russians, who analyse what is happening in the country of their birth, we get a very different picture. In their opinion, the Russian attacks on the West are explained by the increasing internal weakness of the country, and the more the West looks at Putin as on the three-meter and scary giant, the stronger his position at home. In this sense, the new obsession of America with Russia does not harm the Kremlin dictator — she helps him.

Anton Barbashin and Olga Iris for 27 years, and they are co-founders and editors of the online journal Intersection, which analyzes the connections between Russian foreign policy and propaganda actions inside the country and abroad. Their work attracted the attention of Western experts on Russia, so Barbashina I Irisova invited US for a tour of the country with performances. Since February 2014, they live and work in Warsaw, because it is easier to avoid interference. (Though with a smile says Barbarin, “especially no one to bother us, because we are not as big — yet.”) They believe that Putin’s aggressive actions against the West are a direct consequence of the serious problems that exist in Russia.

According to Iris, the Russian economy is suffering from two powerful blows: this is the sanctions imposed in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea, and the decline in energy prices. She noted that in three years the country’s GDP fell from 2.3 to 1.3 trillion dollars. Now he is little more Italian. Cash reserves decreased from 86 to $ 17 billion by the end of the year they can end. The protests intensified, among which a powerful strike of truck drivers; however, news about the growing discontent in Russian media strongly muted.

But they speak about the West, and especially about America.

“If you watch Russian television on any day, — said Barbashin, 70% of the material is international news, and in most of the United States. You may think that you live in America, as detailed in the light”. And since overseas is quite a few Russians, “the news is credible, what can be said about the internal Affairs. And all of these materials are devoted to a single theme: Western liberal democracy is undermined”.

In contrast to the Stalinist period, Russian television offers the viewer an endless celebration and glorification of heaven for the workers. Today the message is more subtle and sophisticated.

Propaganda, according to Barbashin is: “We are not perfect, we have faults, but the West is no better”. In fact, he argues, the flow of misinformation in the presidential election in the United States was built around the idea that because Hillary Clinton still wins, because she is going to pursue a much tougher policy towards Russia than trump, it is important to refute any claims about the moral superiority of America, headed by Clinton.

“As far as we know, — said Barbashin of the Kremlin strategy was the following: she will win, but we must take this opportunity to show that America is broken, that there is no real democracy, which she won, having deceived Bernie Sanders, that trump was going to ease the situation by cooperating with Russia, but the establishment wouldn’t let her (SIC — approx. lane) to win.” In this sense, say Barbashin and Iris, victory trump has become a priceless gift for the Kremlin.

Therefore, in the US there is increasing concern about the fact that Russia could actually influence the outcome of elections. For a country whose people and leadership still fixated on the loss of the Soviet Empire, there is some consolation in the idea that Russia is a dangerous and powerful political force.

“When they see how American officials constantly talk about the Russian influence, it is flattering, said Barbashin — People think: okay, we have no income, no health care, no decent housing, but there is a strong leader.”

Speaking about the political future of Russia, Barbashin and Iris have little optimism about the immediate prospects. How country after the collapse of the Soviet Union clumsily tripped on democracy for many Russians is a warning, because they are seen as especially close to people with political connections rapidly captured the public enterprises and the standard of living of ordinary Russians has dropped significantly. Because of the hardships and privations flourished nostalgia for the “good old days” when there was solid leadership. Even Stalin, many Russians remember fondly.

“In 1991 we had a very flawed democracy,’ said Iris, and for most it was a difficult time. Therefore, the Russians, thinking about democracy, remember the difficulties and instability. The word “liberal” for them, almost a curse.”

“But if you ask people what changes they want, we’ll hear responses about a democratic state. They want them to have rights to protect their property, so they had the opportunity. In a sense, they want to be “normal”. But if you call all this democracy, they will say: “No, we need something else”.

Barbashin even more pessimistic. “The only way to fix things is an economic and social collapse of Russia. Most should see how bad it is, but for that to happen, Russia needs to get hurt. In fact, what happened with Germany after the Second world war. But without the occupation,” he adds hastily.

For those less than 50 years that have passed since the beginning of the cold war to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States was unable to develop a position in relation to Moscow, which is recognized as a threat to Soviet power and its shortcomings. This resulted in resistance to the expansion in Western Europe, the recognition of the Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern Europe, and above all, agreeing with the opinion of such experts as George Kennan (George Kennan), which reminded political leaders about the need to understand the inherent weaknesses of the Soviet Union and use them to the benefit of the West.

Today, when sometimes there is an impression that the American President is ready to act as (presumably) unwitting ally of Putin, the foreign policy team of trump and the Congress is very important to pursue a policy in which there is a correct understanding of what today is Russia. And she is the enemy, decided to weaken the unity of the West and undermine his faith in democratic norms. But it is the enemy is deeply vulnerable and unprotected from effective economic measures in response to his vicious attack. To the advice of two young Russians should be treated with respect because they deserve attention and older people.

Jeff Greenfield a television analyst and author, five times receiving an Emmy award.