By NSS staff
Europe has been stricken by the same Russiagate-type mentality as the US. Macron’s presidential campaign had accused Russian hackers and media of interference in the French elections. British politicians, so-called Remainers, who did not support the proposition to leave the EU, got in on the act, making accusations based on accusations and nothing substantial at all. The hysteria is still in place, with headlines accusing Russia of meddling inn Brexit appearing regularly, in hopes that some legal authority will step in and annul the Yes vote in the Brexit referendum.
But those who carefully read the Russian press know that this is nonsense. The Russians did not oppose Macron, although Russia Today may have repeated some reports from France that cast Macron in a bad light (such reports were plentiful). And of course, Putin did agree to sit down with opposition leader Marine LePen in Moscow during the campaign. The fact that these talks were publicised probably had no favourable effect on her campaign, given that anti-Russia hysteria was already running high by that time, and Putin may have slyly agreed to these talks knowing that it may be a sort of kiss of death for her campaign.
As for claims that “pro-Russia” trolls were caught sending out tweets or posting Facebook entries favourable to Brexit, let us consider two vital points:
1—The definition of “pro-Russian” is subjective and impossible to pinpoint. Westerners posting pro-Russian posts on forums are unceremoniously included in this category.
2—Putin has pointed out that it is laughably easy for a computer programmer to design software making it look like a post or tweet came from a given country or IP address even when it did not. The CIA was in fact caught with its own home-made software that deliberately inserted Russian characters and other “clues” in emails, making it look as if malicious hackers in Russia had interfered in the sovereign affairs of the US – the country that has interfered more than any other in the sovereign affairs of other nations.
At any rate, consumers of Russian news in the Russian language (and hence not intended for international consumption) could easily see that the Russians were not in favour of Brexit. Not only did Putin not take sides in this controversy, but back in October 2016, in a speech at the Valdai Club, he had said:
“We want Europe to be strong and centralized. That’s our position. But in Europe, there are different viewpoints, and this, I hope, will conclude with some sort of positive decision.”
When we saw this back then, we were puzzled because Putin has always been a proponent of sovereignty for all nations. So why would he advocate for a government that deprived European nations of their sovereignty by imposing a Soviet style central government on them with the power to tax, impose economic rules and regulations, enforce speech codes, essentially write legislation and demand that national legislators “harmonize” with it, and even impose quotas for the number of immigrants they must accept from Africa and the Middle East.
This seemed out of character for Putin.
But you must remember that when Putin came into power, the EU was already a fait accompli. Its member states had voluntarily agreed to join it (though some now claim they were tricked into joining). Further, the Russian Federation was already trading with the EU and negotiating with it in various areas. It would have been bad protocol for Putin, always a stickler for protocol and respect for rules, to advocate the breakup of a government that Russia is doing business with.
But there is an even more compelling reason for his pro-EU position that Putin did not dare disclose to the international Valdai group, and that was the longstanding desire of Russia and China to weaken the US dollar so as to make it difficult for the US to meddle in foreign affairs (eg, via colour revolutions and arbitrary sanctions) and especially, to wage useless wars that typically kill more civilians than combatants merely to punish nations that refuse to bow to the Washington hegemon.
New Silk Strategies had posted our independent research showing that, while China and Russia were purposefully attempting to weaken the US dollar by using non-dollar currencies in international trade settlements, it was in fact the euro that, of all non-dollar currencies, had been used the most internationally by far, and therefore posed the greatest threat to the USD. If ever there was a practical reason for supporting the EU (and especially its Eurozone) it was this.
So no, Russia most certainly did not meddle on behalf of Brexit.