CRF Blog

Putin and the Populists

by Bill Hayes

In Putin and the Populists for the Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein looks at why populists in America and Europe are attracted to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Across the political spectrum, mainstream foreign-policy thinkers in both the United States and Europe view Putin as a threat largely because he is pushing to expand Russian influence across eastern Europe and the Middle East in ways that could destabilize the U.S.-led system of alliances and global rules that has defined the international order since World War II. That concern has spiked amid a succession of provocative actions from Putin, ranging from his 2014 incursion into Ukraine and brutal military campaign against anti-government rebels in Syria, to the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia hacked Democratic Party email accounts to influence the 2016 American presidential election. (Trump, due to receive an intelligence briefing about those conclusions on Friday, has steadfastly resisted and belittled that conclusion.)

But the conservative-populist nationalists in both the United States and Europe view Putin as a potential ally because they are focused on a sharply contrasting set of international priorities: resisting Islamic radicalization, unwinding global economic integration, and fighting the secularization of Western societies. Top Trump advisers like … White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon and [former] National Security Adviser Michael Flynn have expressed strikingly similar views. [more]

For a related free classroom lesson, see “Putin’s Illiberal Democracy.” It is available from  CRF’s Bill of Rights in Action Archive. It is currently only in PDF and you will have to register (if you haven’t already), which is free.