Sunday, October 4, 2020

Moscow Simultaneously Promoting Trump and Radical Left in the US, Kirillova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 3 – Four years ago, Russian trolls and commentators openly supported Donald Trump for president of the US; and while commentators are less outspoken now given the reaction of Americans to Russian interference in the US elections, Moscow is still supporting him via its troll factories, Kseniya Kirillova says.

            But at the same time and because it serves the Kremlin’s broader purposes, the US-based Russian analyst says, Moscow is now supporting both radicalism on the right which it sees as Trump’s base and radicalism on the left which is opposed to him (

            In 2016, Moscow supported Trump not expecting him to win but to create problems for Hillary Clinton whom the Kremlin viewed as the likely victor. Now, while Trump remains Moscow’s “preferred candidate,” it is also looking beyond the elections and promoting the radical left.

            Not only does that help Trump because he links Democratic candidate Joe Biden to it but it helps Moscow because it helps elevate the radical left in ways that will undermine Biden if as now seems likely he emerges victorious. The radical left is marginal and mostly in the streets, but it has the ability to promote an agenda which Biden won’t be able to completely avoid.

            That agenda which includes the isolationism Trump also supports and radical social changes which will further divide and weaken the US is one that the political technologists in Moscow fully back as well.  What makes the Kremlin especially interested in supporting the radical left in the US lies elsewhere, Kirillova continues.

            Strongly influenced by the continuing impact of Soviet ideology which presented the US as a citadel of oppression and injustice, she says, the Putin elite like the Soviet one out of which it emerged believes that this image of the US will help Moscow prove to the world that the US “doesn’t have the right to pretend to the role of world leader.”

            To realize this goal, of course, doesn’t require that Biden be in the Oval Office, the analyst says. “On the contrary.” If Trump wins a second term but is hounded by a radical left in the US boosted by Russian trolls, Moscow can count on those on the left in the US to do its work for the Russians by criticizing Trump’s social policies.

            Some in Moscow may believe that they are playing “a long game,” Kirillova continues, and that the radical left is on the rise in the US. But that seems unlikely, even if that is what the Kremlin, so strongly in the grip of Soviet ideological propositions, strongly believes and will seek to promote.

            Understanding that Moscow has good reasons for supporting those at both ends of the American political spectrum is critical to overcoming the overly simple conspiratorial thinking that the Russian authorities are backing only one side.  They have obvious preferences but in this case as in all others, they play to win even if they don’t get what they most want. 

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