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Countering Putin’s Grand Strategy

Summary:
Russia is playing a global game, and the US and Europe are so busy protecting their corners that they are leaving the goals wide open. Only with a global counter-strategy, including a model for a more inclusive international system, do the US and Europe have a chance of regaining control of the field. WASHINGTON, DC – In 1965, at the height of the Cold War, the comedy series Get Smart premiered on US television. The popular show featured the bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart, who represented the American counterespionage agency CONTROL in its fight against its archenemy, an organization called KAOS – one of whose agents was virtually always Russian. America’s Vital Chip Mission

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Russia is playing a global game, and the US and Europe are so busy protecting their corners that they are leaving the goals wide open. Only with a global counter-strategy, including a model for a more inclusive international system, do the US and Europe have a chance of regaining control of the field.

WASHINGTON, DC – In 1965, at the height of the Cold War, the comedy series Get Smart premiered on US television. The popular show featured the bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart, who represented the American counterespionage agency CONTROL in its fight against its archenemy, an organization called KAOS – one of whose agents was virtually always Russian.

Today, as a recent RAND study put it, Russia is “a well-armed rogue state that seeks to subvert an international order it can no longer hope to dominate.” In other words, having lost control, it is seeking to sow chaos.

US President Joe Biden’s administration is aware of the Russia threat. But, as the recent G7 and NATO communiqués show, it is focused primarily on Russian cyberattacks on American and European targets. As Russia pursues a global grand strategy to expand its influence and undermine the liberal world order, this is not enough.

Russia’s strategy entails, first, intervention in ongoing conflicts to support governments or militant forces hostile toward the West. For example, in the Central African Republic, Russia is providing military and political support to President Faustin-Archange Touadéra. In return, Russian companies are permitted to mine gold and diamonds.

Similarly, in Libya, Russia’s government and its mercenary contractors, such as the Wagner Group, support rebel General Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army and enemy of the United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord. This has given Russia access to Libya’s oil, transportation, and defense sectors. Russia is also using this strategy in West African countries, such as Mali, as the French government seeks to reduce its footprint.

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