Staunton, March 20 – In the wake of US President Joe Biden’s agreement with the statement that Vladimir Putin is a murderer, ever more Russian commentators have argued that the Kremlin’s first response must be within Russia, silencing and then crushing the West’s “agents of influence” inside the country who are working against Moscow.
A good example of this is provided by Anatoly Nikiforov, a Yekaterinburg deputy and commentator, who points out that with the demise of the USSR, Russia has been left with only nuclear weapons to maintain its status as a super power and that Biden’s comments now show that the US views Russia as weak (realtribune.ru/rossiju-ot-porazheniya-v-protivostoyanii-s-ssha-uderzhivaet-tolko-yadernaya-triada).
No world leader could speak of the leader of another country unless he viewed that country as weak; and any American leader who does so, Nikiforov says, is not only sending a signal that he views that country in that way but that he feels free to destabilize it in American interests as has happened in the Middle East.
As such, it is a fundamental mistake to view the war of words between Biden and Putin as “an interpersonal conflict,” the commentator says. It is a clear indication that “in their understanding what is taking place is a dialogue of the strong,” in this case, the United States, “with the weak,” in this case Russia.
Because Russia has nuclear weapons, the United States won’t raise the stakes to that level because it would be destroyed if the conflict went nuclear. Instead, it will use its agents of influence inside Russia to further weaken the Russian government, destabilize the country, and thus give itself the opportunity to take control of Russia.
In response to that danger, Nikiforov says, the Kremlin must identify and crush all “agents of influence” of the West inside the country. That doesn’t mean suppressing all criticism. Criticism is useful if it is constructive. But it does mean ending any that is subversive of the power of the Russian state.
That is the most effective way to undermine the ability of the US and the West more generally to harm Russia without putting both countries at risk of nuclear annihilation.