The Russian economy is small relative to that of Europe or the United States. It military is hardly capable of competing with NATO. But “the Kremlin has a secret weapon which no one else in the world has: enormous criminal financial resources” that Vladimir Putin can deploy to promote his goals, according to Igor Eidman.
During the time of Putin’s rule, “trillions of dollars” have flowed out of Russia abroad, a trend that is “not simply a criminal affair” but rather “the story about the struggle for rule in the world” designed to promote the goals of the FSB and its master in the Kremlin, the Russian analyst says.
This “criminal money is the main weapon of the secret war which Putin is conducting against democracy. It is used for buying off Western elites. Financing propaganda, and manipulating public opinion as well as for supporting destructive political forces, organizing hacker attacks, and collecting compromising information and blackmail of influential people.”
“The goal of all this is a sharp strengthening of Putin’s influence in the world, splitting the EU and NATO, destroying the union between Europe and the US, and destabilizing the situation in democratic countries,” Eidman says. “Now, the most important tasks are sparking hysteria about the refugee crisis in the EU and unleashing a new conflict in the Balkans.
Eidman surveys the way Russian money has been used in Montenegro, Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Poland, Sweden, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Germany, France, Italy, and the US. “In addition,” he says, “the Kremlin also supports ultra-right, separatist and isolationist forces in the UK, Spain, the Netherlands, Greece and other European countries.”
The way in which Moscow is using its illegal cash hordes to destabilize the situation in the former Soviet republics is “particularly dangerous,” Eidman says, and thus requires “a separate discussion.”
In many ways, Eidman suggests, “the situation is like the development of cancer. The tumor (the Putin corporation) is so large that it is impossible to remove without harm to the healthy part of the organism. The infected (the West) is afraid of this and is refusing to have an operation.”
“But if the surgery is put off forever, the tumor will spread to the point that the life of the victim will be at risk. And then those ill from it will simply die.” The West needs to recognize this and to recognize that Putin is using his “dirty money” not only to affect the political systems of Western countries but also their economies.
Moreover, the West needs to recognize something else: Even in those relatively few cases where the Russian money involved is not dirty to begin with – it may have flowed out in completely legal ways – it has been hijacked by the Kremlin and put to criminally dangerous political use.
Consequently, Eidman concludes, “the capital and influence of Russian bureaucrats and oligarchs must be surgically removed from Western society. Otherwise, the metastasizing of Putinism will not stop.”