The Bear’s Gamble

In the past few months after Trump’s stupefying electoral win in the U.S. elections, The Liberal Order, and with that the EU, has gone into a time of reflection; analysing what it is doing wrong and how it can prevent another shock win from the surging far-right movement as to not kill the European Dream. This has led to a lot of high profile officials within the EU calling for more integration, something which has led to the development of the ‘multi-speed’ Europe proposal and also the approval of a European Military HQ. This shows that federalism is not a dead idea despite Brexit and the populist uprising.

However, one would say that this need to continue the unification process is due to the threat being posed by Russia behind the scenes. Naturally, ‘anti-establishment’ supporters, who show Russian sympathies would rebuff this statement as putting the blame of Europe’s ills on Russia. So the question lies, “Does Russia (Putin) really stand to gain from a divided Europe? And if so, how can Europe properly defend itself from this slippery slope?”

If I were to ask the first part of the question to someone who regularly watches the news, that person would most probably answer me with a definitive yes. No surprise since the media has had Russia in its sights given the fact that there have been claims of Putin having an ‘army’ of hackers, and Trump’s seeming infatuation. Moreover, there have been reports on the news that the Kremlin has been funding populists. Our latest example being Le Pen, the French presidential candidate who wants an end to the institution, the EU, proclaimed that Europe should make peace with Russia, and that the Crimea voted democratically, whatever that word means to them, to join with Russia. Surprise surprise, Le Pen funding her campaign with a loan given to her by a Russian Bank. I wonder why? Furthermore, Macron, the independent candidate expected to win the French election, has had his crowd funding website attacked by hackers and accused by Sputnik, a Russian news outlet, of being a US agent for big business.

Yes, we have news saying that until now Putin is getting the results he wanted through Trump, to a certain extent, whose chief of staff Bannon is strongly against the EU. Yet, why go through of all the effort in diverting financial, technological and human resources in undermining the Liberal Order when you can just work with it through the economic dimension and go about your business? Which is the question the media never seem to explain to its audience but spin things round and say Russia did this, Russia did that. There has to be some kind of motive.

It all boils down to the kleptocracy which this has created. There is no doubt that Russia under Putin lacks the democratic atmosphere and political accountability which, to a certain extent, we Europeans enjoy in the EU. Due to the Russian President’s actions, the west has had to impose sanctions against Russia which has wreaked havoc on its economy and it now needs a way to turn the tables and not only reassert his will on what he has gained, but to re-establish Russian like never before in the global platform. So yes, Russia stands to gain A LOT from a sinking EU ship. What is interesting is that he aims to achieve this by not firing a single shot and this, in every sense of the word, is a Cyber World War.

So now that Europe is aware that Russia is meddling with it through hacking, fake-news and money. This takes us to what kind of counter-measures need to be taken to face off this threat. Macron has stayed resilient to Russia and still rides high in the polls, his victory would be a blow to Putin’s efforts and hopes. The EU has now taken a more federalist approach in the political and military arena, all we need are the fruits of this sorely secretive venture, if only for the good publicity. In the end, the only way this will come to be is if the member states need pool resources for the formation of a federal central intelligence agency and take the fight back to Russia and any other threats to the European ideals which the Union holds so close to its heart.

Thomas Cassar Ruggier

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