Staunton, Nov. 11 – Faced with defeats in Ukraine and a West united against its aggression there, Vladimir Putin has decided to refocus his primary “soft power” efforts away from opposition groups in Western countries to poorer European and Third World countries where he can even present what is happening in Ukraine to his advantage.
Two source close to the Kremlin tell the Meduza news agency that Putin believes that he can have success by arguing that what the West is doing against Russia is the same as what it is doing against the poorer non-Western countries and that they should unite behind Moscow for that reason (meduza.io/feature/2022/11/11/v-kremle-reshili-chto-rossiya-dolzhna-vozglavit-mirovoe-antikolonialnoe-dvizhenie-utverzhdayut-istochniki-meduzy-ego-ideologiya-amerike).
Of course, it will be lost on no one that what the Kremlin is planning to do is a revival of the Soviet Union’s “anti-colonial” discourse. Moreover, by attracting support in such countries, the Kremlin obviously hopes to send a message to its own population that whatever they may think, Russia is not alone but has more friends abroad than recent UN votes suggest.
One source said that in the past, Moscow directed its “soft power” primarily to “Old” Europe, seeking to show that “Russia is the same democratic state” they are. This was “embarrassing,” he says, but that is what they tried. “Now the vector is different – one based on anti-Westernism, opposition to the Anglo-Saxons, colonial oppression and so on.”
During the course of the war in Ukraine, Putin himself has frequently talked about colonialism and now has decided to double down on that theme, the two sources say. In the Third World, the message is to be that you have no freedom because the West won’t let you and tries to impose its values on you.
In poorer parts of Europe, in contrast, the sources indicate, the message will be somewhat different. There it will be that richer countries have worked to make you poorer and that these richer countries are destroying the traditional values which you and Russia maintain and hold so dear.
The Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rosstrudnichestvo), headed by Yevgeny Primakov, the grandson of the former Russian prime minister of the same name, is slated to lead this effort, Meduza says.
Planning for this campaign, it continues, will involve the Kremlin’s own think tank, the Expert Institute for Social Research and to start involve the expenditure of several tens of millions of US dollars.