Just six months ago, Vladimir Putin seemed to be getting precisely what he wanted. Great Britain and the European Union were in disarray over the Brexit vote he helped engineer. His puppet Donald Trump had just been elected President of the United States. His puppets seemed to have momentum in elections in other nations. There was no stopping him. And yet, here and now, his victories are looking like defeats, and his defeats are looking rather pitiful.
Putin’s goal all along seemed to be to destabilize the major governments on other continents. If he could create internal crises for the world’s largest nations, they wouldn’t be in a position to respond if and when he resumed invading his own smaller neighbors. But six months after the Brexit vote, the separation still hasn’t happened. If anything, it seems to have made his German nemesis Angela Merkel more powerful. And that’s before getting to the ways in which the Trump experiment is failing him.
If the erratic Donald Trump was supposed to create such internal strife for the United States that it prevented Americans from being able to pay any attention to Putin’s antics in his own neighborhood, the precise opposite is happening. Thanks to the shockingly sloppy manner in which Trump and his team have conducted their Russian collusion, the resulting scandal has caused Americans to pay more attention to the Russians than at any time since arguably the Cuban missile crisis. This can not be what Putin was looking for. And he seems to know it, as he hasn’t invaded any of his neighbors since Trump took office. But it’s now getting even worse for him.
Putin’s candidate in the Netherlands lost badly. And while Putin did manage to help elevate his French candidate Marine Le Pen into the final two, she’s heading into election day behind by more than twenty points (for reference, Trump was behind in the popular vote by four points in the polls, and he ended up losing it by two points). As a last ditch effort, Putin’s hackers got into her opponent Emmanuel Macron’s emails and released them so late that it bled into the media blackout period before the election, making it probably ineffective. The resulting headlines worldview were not about the contents of Macron’s emails, but about the Russian hacking. It suggests that Putin is running out of both cover and ammo when it comes to rigging elections.
So what exactly has Vladimir Putin gained? He still has Donald Trump, but it’s no longer clear that Putin can view that win as a victory, even as Americans are now scrutinizing Putin’s every move as a result. The France situation is just making Putin look weak. And now even the Russians are taking to the streets to protest against Putin, seemingly inspired by the massive U.S. protests against Trump. Putin has brought this mess on himself. Help fund Palmer Report
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report