By so doing, the Putin regime has “firmly occupied that ideological niche which in the 1920s and 1930s the fascist and pro-Hitlerite trends occupied in Europe” and which the Communist International opposed. Then, Soviet propagandists “supported anti-war, left-wing and pacifist groups; now, [their successors] back racist and ultra-right conservatives.”
The USSR argued that nationalism was being used by the imperialists to distract workers from the class struggle, Ikhlov says; but now, “for the Putin crypto-war against the West, support of nationalism and xenophobia is the most reliable instrument” be it in Greece, Macedonia, or “experiments like the simultaneous support of white and black radicals in the US.”
But if the message has changed, he continues; the methods have not. They remain “’Comintern’” in almost all cases. Putin wants to restore “a ‘soft’ USSR” and expand Russian influence even more broadly and to that end wants to weaken Europe and the West in ways that resemble what the Soviets did.
Putin wants Russia Today to promote these ideas just as Soviet agitprop did, and he seeks to create pro-Putin forces in the West not only by this ideological tool but also by corrupting political movements and political leaders, directly or indirectly, so that they will contribute to the achievement of his goals.
Those are the tactics he has used in Brexit, with Donald Trump, and with European politicians; and it must be acknowledged that with this combination of new messages and old techniques, Putin has achieved successes that his Soviet predecessors could never even have dreamed of.
As a result, today the West is faced “with the most serious challenge” to its domination in the post-war period. During the Cold War, the Communist Party of the US was a marginal group at least after 1948, but now Moscow is able to use the National Rifle Association and the Nixon Center for its purposes.
“If it were not for the economic collapse” of Russia, Ikhlov continues, “Putin really could stand over the world by having shown that the KGB could deal with the organization of world expansion better than the CPSU Central Committee.” His combination Anti-Comintern messages with Comintern means can slow his country’s decline; but they can’t stop it.