Posted on Mar 31, 2020
Russian President Vladimir Putin has considerable experience in gaining political advantage out of a crisis, but then he has had a considerable amount of experience in this area - he has created many crises during the 20 years since he first assumed office.
The current crisis of the global coronavirus pandemic has provided the Vozhd with many opportunities.
A recent article in the Russian online journal Геополитика (Geopolitika) predicted the end of globalisation as being an inevitable result of the crisis: "we see the closing of open societies and moving from transnational authorities and approaches to economic, social and political processes to national standards. In fact, welcome to the multipolar world!" wrote Alexander Dugin, the Russian political analyst known for his strong fascist views and his closeness to the Kremlin.
In 1997,Dugin published his article "Fascism – Borderless and Red" in which he foresaw the arrival of a "genuine, true, radically revolutionary and consistent, fascist fascism" in Russia. He praised Ahnenerbe, the Nazi think tank run by Heinrich Himmler and devoted to refining Hitler's racial doctrines, as being "an intellectual oasis in the framework of the National Socialist regime".
The "end of globalisation" narrative is aimed at a Russian audience and is, along with the creation of imaginary outside threats, intended to explain and justify the isolationist policies of Putin's Russia.
- Waldemar Herdt & Markus Frohnmaier: "Russia's men in the Bundestag" call for lifting of EU sanctions".
- MH 17: Dealing With Moscow’s Propaganda Machine
- "European Parliament" media outlet exposed as Russian propaganda machine.
- Russia's propaganda machine and its agents: The Malinov case.
Inevitably, like any geopolitical crisis or concern, coronavirus is put forward as yet another reason why the EU should drop the sanctions against Russia that were unanimously imposed by all member states following the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.
On March 18th the Kremlin's propaganda outlet Sputnik published an article claiming that Germany was calling for the lifting of sanctions against Russia because of coronavirus. In fact, as EUToday reported, the only voices in Germany's Bundestag calling for such a course of action were those of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AFD) party, which is itself promoted by the Kremlin backed RT (Russia Today), and which is widely reported to have received Russian money.
At this month's G20 summit Putin called for sanctions relief during the coronavirus pandemic, telling G20 leaders it was a matter "of life and death." He went on to say "Ideally we should introduce a... joint moratorium on restrictions on essential goods as well as on financial transactions for their purchase"
Russia tries to persuade those around that sanctions limit its ability to tackle the pandemic. These claims are an imitation. No sanctions package imposed on Russia for its aggression in Crimea and Donbas does affect its ability to protect Russians from the coronavirus, or to contribute to global efforts to overcome the crisis. Russia’s misuse of the pandemic for political purposes, its calls to lift sanctions, are a dirty manipulation and an attempt to benefit from the suffering of millions.
The relentless attempts to influence and manipulate political and public opinion in such a way that could lead to the lifting of the sanctions is evidence in itself of the effectiveness of the sanctions, and explanation enough as to why they should remain in place for as long as Russia continues to illegally occupy Ukrainian sovereign territory.
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