It looks like Vladimir Putin’s “participation” in the 2016 US presidential elections is only the beginning. Now we learn that there are some indications suggesting that Russia attempts to influence the outcome of presidential election in France. There is also a concern that Russia may have interfered in the last year Brexit vote.

If it is true, then I can assume that the core reason of recent rise of populism and far right sentiments in the West might not be deterioration of economy and living conditions as it was previously thought. Instead, it could be a direct result of the Russian intelligence activities.

Of course, before we arrive to this conclusion it is necessary to have evidence to confirm. However, theoretically, Russia’s attempt to influence the elections’ outcome in the western countries appears to be logical. If I put myself in Putin’s shoes, most likely, I would do the same for the following reasons:

Russian economy is (about) 50% oil & gas based. It wouldn’t be a problem if not 2008 financial crises which crashed crude oil price. When prices of oil recovered, political crisis in Ukraine created situation that almost wiped out Putin’s influence in the region. Annexation of Crimea was his attempt to reverse the process and reinstate status quo. In response, the US and EU imposed sanctions on Russia.

Unfortunately, for Putin, it intersected with US shale revolution which caused crude oil oversupply followed by a significant decline of oil price. Naturally, these factors affected Russian economy and deteriorated living standards.

Ironically, the US shale revolution which supposed to deliver country’s energy independence, instead, caused economic downturn worldwide. 

Usually, the rise of popularity of far right or far left occurs during times of economic crisis. The current downturn happened to stay much longer than it was expected. 

I suspect that Putin, as experienced politician, realised that negative economic conditions create favourable environment to gain the control. I am almost sure it was clear to him that the timing couldn’t be much better. In fact it was perfect because Donald Trump expressed his intention to take part in the 2016 US presidential election. Or, as the case might be, Trump was made to want to participate in the race. 

I do not dismiss this option because (I have little doubt) Vladimir Putin carefully studied Trump’s profile and was well-informed about Trump’s psychological issues. Besides, just like a birthday gift sent by angels from Heavens, Britain announced referendum. I think that for Putin not to use this opportunity wasn’t even an option. Because, if implemented successfully, it would make the process of putting Donald Trump in power easier and at the same time could establish foundation to trigger the process aimed to end the EU.

At least theoretically, it seems as well fitted strategy. It is easier to deal with European governments and possibly dominate over Europe when countries are not united. If this scenario is more or less true, then I must say the it looks like he has  successfully completed Stage 1.

As to France, in my view, it would be logical continuation for Putin. In the end, Russians always had special connections with French. I think “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy is wonderful illustration of it. I would think that soon we would learn whether Vladimir Putin managed to convert French Connection into Russian Domination.