The Wagner Group’s recent call on American veterans to make America great again by joining their Kremlin-run terrorist ranks, killing Americans and their Western allies, including Ukrainians, depicts our common enemy perfectly: a heinous manipulator of facts garnering violence through false empathy. The growing fear and polarization within the U.S. and EU not only delight the Kremlin, they are a direct result of tactics aimed at establishing Russia’s global dominance alongside our demise. The law- and policy-makers in our countries who deny the urgent need to align with Ukraine in the defense of the free world are starting to pose a security risk to the countries we live in.
The recent arrest of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s former chief of counterintelligence, Charles McGonigal, the exposure of a pan-European Kremlin-run bribery network, the abduction and unlawful transfer of Ukrainian children to Moscow by the Austrian Secretary General of the European Ombudsman Institute exemplify how deeply Moscow has infiltrated itself into our states. In Ukraine, the continued existence of Kremlin-oriented political parties and the liberty their politicians enjoy show how tough it is to uproot the Kremlin-oriented political-criminal global network. Perhaps the recent corruption hotlines set up by the U.S. in Ukraine could serve as an example for a global reporting system. The future of our civilization is at stake.
Our common enemy and common threats
With its black matter imperialism consciously devouring our societal and political cohesion, the Kremlin’s divide-and-conquer policies spin far beyond the wider Black Sea region. Targeting democracies around the world by using fear, filthy money and anger to induce scorn among compatriots and state institutions is Russia’s creeping and effective war tactic.
In the United States for instance, Moscow’s manipulation of Google, Twitter and Facebook in the Black Lives Matter Movement remains a shamefully and inadequately addressed fact dating well before 2016. Expertly devised by Moscow’s secret services and so-called “applied philosophers,” hate-mongering informational operations are propagated by its politicians, diplomats, journalists and global agents.
Employing corruption as statecraft globally, the Kremlin seeks out corruptible or naïve politicians and citizens who, in exchange for power and/or money, become instrumental to the realization of Moscow’s foreign policies. Members of our civil societies and politicians are bribed to support Russia’s foreign policy objectives in lieu of their own national security interests.
This month the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project investigation revealed a Europe-wide Kremlin-oriented network. Its mission? Discrediting persons or events that contradict Russia’s foreign policy by paying for the organization of rallies, pickets and other protest actions in EU countries. The individuals within this network from the very top down must be weeded out and adequately punished.
Last month, McGonigal, the former FBI head of counterintelligence, was indicted alongside Sergey Shestakov, an embedded court interpreter and U.S. citizen of Russian descent. The two have been charged for conspiring to provide information services to Oleg Deripaska, one of Russia’s wealthiest oligarchs. In 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control deemed Deripaska a Specially Designated National whose actions constitute “an unusual and extraordinary threat to U.S. national security policy.”
The sanctioned billionaire is closely connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has a global empire of aluminum and power companies, and owns a military-industrial company that exercises control over Russian enterprises manufacturing armored vehicles used by the Russian armed forces in the war against Ukraine. Clearly no friend of democracy, his name appears 64 times in the redacted version of Volume I of the Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election (the Meuller report). The manner in which McGonigal and Shestakov will be held to account for their treacherous acts must serve as an example to the public.
In the first month of 2023, the work of Ukraine’s version of the FBI led to the dismissal or resignation of allegedly treasonous politicians and advisors, including the deputy minister of defense, the deputy minister of infrastructure, five governors of front-line provinces, several prosecutors, heads of the Ukrainian Central Bank, and the deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine.
Although the wave of dismissals is continuing, the fact that renowned Russian operatives are still working within Ukraine’s formal institutions is abhorrent. In light of the reality that these “political actors” are facilitators of war crimes and crimes against humanity – complicit in the ongoing attempt at genocide – Ukraine should stand as an example with regards to punishing traitors. But it doesn’t. Letters of resignation seem too easy.
It is time for Ukraine, together with its allies to start publicly professionalizing their institutions and cadres – corrupt institutions and individuals aligned with them must be permanently prohibited from partaking in political and business life within Ukraine and the territories of its allies. A sign of growing maturity and understanding of this need is reflected in the wise decision of the Munich Security Conference 2023 organizers not to invite Germany’s (Kremlin-oriented) far right political party.
In 2022, Moscow’s agents shook the global security structure causing freedom-loving states to open their doors to millions of refugees and provide humanitarian and defense support to Ukraine. In less than one year, Russia has caused the death of over 150,000 human beings and forced over 7 million people to flee their homes, separating men from their women and children. Russia has razed cities, towns, villages and houses to the ground. Add to this, the hundreds of thousands who have been injured, tortured, forcibly deported, placed into “filtration” camps, the children who have been maimed, abducted and raped, and you get but a glimpse of the meaning of Russia’s culture and future plans for humanity as a whole.
Recently, I had the great pleasure of speaking with a black homeless man who had the largest American flag I had ever seen stuffed into his shopping cart. Serendipitously, he also had the Ukrainian flag and an enormous sheet upon which he had sewn the flags of the world. As he shared his treasures with me, he prudently noted that what the world is allowing Russia to get away with is outrageous, and that things will not end well for any of us unless our leadership stands up to hold this evil accountable.
He is right and time is of the essence.
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