We should think about potential “shocks,” the most troubling of which would be if Putin performed a “reverse Nixon” and played his own version of the “China card.” The world system, and American influence in it, would be completely upended if Moscow and Beijing aligned more closely. Perhaps a good American strategy would be to play a “Russia card” first. Obama tried to do so with his “reset.” Trump wanted to do this, but he was derailed by the electioneering apparently orchestrated by Moscow. Still it is not too late for such a move. After all, the United States works closely with Russia on space operations. Is it a bridge too far to hope for more cooperation at the terrestrial level?
On July 6, Greece announced that it had “irrefutable evidence” that Russia was trying to undermine the Prespa agreement, by attempting to buy off officials and otherwise intervening in Greece’s internal affairs. In a pointed statement, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias accused Russia of also funding protests within Greece, and declared that his country would not be bullied. Greece has now expelled two Russian diplomats, leading Russia to cancel an upcoming visit to Athens by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and to announce the expulsion of Greek diplomats from Moscow.
.. Russian mischief has also been detected north of the Greek border. According to Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Russia has funded anti-government protests and pushed Russian-oriented businesses in Macedonia to foment violence in the run-up to the September 30 referendum.
.. Russia has made no secret of its desire to weaken NATO. By opposing the Prespa agreement, it may be hoping to prevent Macedonia from joining the alliance. But even when pressed, Putin’s Russia will not acknowledge that it opposes Greek-Macedonian rapprochement, let alone apologize for taking active measures to interfere in Greek and Macedonian domestic affairs.
.. The irony is that Putin has long criticized the United States for overreaching and attempting to impose its values on others. In the Balkans and elsewhere, Putin has tried to present himself as a reasonable partner who will not ask questions about human rights or insist on respect for any particular set of values.
Yet it is now clear that neither friend nor foe should tolerate Russia’s foreign policy. The Kremlin has stepped up its policy of interfering secretly in other countries’ political processes. It has tracked down and attempted to murder former members of its security services inside NATO member states. And it has apparently tried to scuttle a hard-won agreement between two Balkan neighbors who are trying to overcome decades of mistrust.
.. Looking ahead, it will be important to remember that Russia’s foreign policy is motivated not just by spite and bitterness, but also by a nagging awareness of its own decline.
The House Committee on Science Space and Technology released a report on Thursday detailing how Russia has been using social media platforms to disrupt domestic energy markets and influence domestic energy policies.
“The committee began investigating Russian attempts to influence U.S. energy markets in the summer of 2017 when Chairman [Lamar] Smith wrote [to] the Secretary of Treasury regarding Russia’s intricate money-laundering scheme. Russian-sponsored agents funneled money to U.S. environmental organizations in an attempt to portray energy companies in a negative way and disrupt domestic energy markets,” the report states.
.. The report also reveals that Russia wants to disrupt the cutting edge technology that has resulted in an American domestic energy renaissance, including horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing or fracking.