Watch Out, Putin’s Star in Europe is Declining. Ian Lesser Explains Why
In an interview with Formiche, GMF Brussels Director Ian Lesser explains why Russia’s political influence in Europe is slowly waning.
The front lines between European leaders and Russia are hardening. Just this week, Germanys’ Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was ”pained” by an “outrageous” Russian hacking attack on her email account. Merkel, who advocated better relations with Russia for many years, seems to be losing patience. However, there is only so much Germany can do in retaliation for such attacks, says Ian Lesser. “Germany has close ties with Moscow, particularly in the energy sector. Merkel has always had some difficulty in taking a hard line with Russia,” he says.
Russia is about to squander the little sympathy it has left in Europe. Its solidarity campaigns in the coronavirus crisis could not reverse this trend. European countries were wary of the propaganda and interference that accompanied Russian assistance. “Even before the crisis, Russia and China were heavily involved in the spread of disinformation in Europe, but we underestimated the problem. The crisis has opened our eyes to the risks of disinformation.” EU leaders are starting to “align with the United States on this issue, as our awareness and skepticism towards Russian interference attempts have grown,” says Lesser.