When someone with the long-range perspective of Alexander “Sandy” Vershbow says relations with Russia are the worst he’s seen in his entire career, everyone should take notice. Vershbow has been a student of the Soviet Union and Russia for many decades, rising to the highest levels of the US State Department, the Pentagon and NATO. Before his recently-ended tenure as NATO’s deputy secretary general, Vershbow had served as the American ambassador to the Alliance from 1998 to 2001 and to Moscow from 2001 to 2005. With all that Russia-watching history, Vershbow says he’d have to go back to the Berlin crises of the early 1960s to imagine “as volatile and unpredictable and dangerous a situation as we have now.”
On November 16, 2016, Dr. Marlene Laruelle, Mr. Neil Barnett, and Dr. Alina Polyakova, who were joined by Dr. Andreas Umland, Dr. Mitchell Orenstein, Dr. Péter Krekó, and Mr. Josh Rogin, launched their report The Kremlin’s Trojan Horses: Russian Influence in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, a new report from the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu’s Eurasia Center. Unlike in Central Eastern Europe, Moscow’s tactics in the West are purposely subtler and difficult to trace. This report documents how the Russian government cultivates relationships with ideologically friendly political parties, individuals, and civic groups to build an army of Trojan Horses across European polities. This network of political allies, named in the report, serves the Kremlin’s foreign policy agenda that seeks to infiltrate politics, influence policy, and inculcate an alternative, pro-Russian view of the international order.
The report presents three cases, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, each written by a leading expert: Dr. Marlene Laruelle, director of the Central Asia Program and associate director of the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University; Mr. Neil Barnett, chief executive officer of Istok Associates; Dr. Stefan Meister, director, Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia, Robert Bosch Center, German Council on Foreign Relations; and Dr. Alina Polyakova, deputy director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and senior fellow with the Future Europe Initiative at the Atlantic Council.
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