Instead of combating the global COVID-19 crisis, Putin is using it to attain his own malicious goals. On the one hand, Kremlin’s propaganda is stirring panic in European societies by planting in an idea of how inefficient their systems of response to the epidemic are. On the other, Kremlin dispatches “military medical personnel” to Italy to once again instigate a rift in the European society.
A video of an Italian replacing the EU flag with the Russian one is gaining popularity in the Internet. The narrative of Russian disinformation outlets is clear – Russia is showing off as the only “friend” of the Italians amid isolated from each other Schengen area countries.
Beyond any doubt, one of Moscow’s goals here is putting pressure on Rome for it to initiate the lifting of sanctions. Kremlin believes that Putin’s friend populist Giuseppe Conte, whose cadence is witnessing the COVID-19 disaster, is prepared to push this “Russian aid” argument next time the European leaders are going to vote for another extension of sanctions against Russia.
Putin is not in the least bothered by the fact that sanctions had been introduced as a response to the annexation of Ukrainian territories and have to be lifted only after their de-occupation – after all, there is always an example of PACE which had caved in to Putin’s blackmailing, betraying its own principles for sheer mercantile reasons.
The European Union, however, is a structure considerably more serious than an individual, albeit extremely authoritative in the past, European organization. It’s dubious that the EU would buy the cheap Kremlin’s show with the deployment of “medical paratroopers”. Berlin and Paris together with other “old democracies” are also not expected to allow their values to be so bluntly trampled over.
Kremlin is hardly naïve enough not to understand what kind of outcome is coming, keeping in mind past failed scenarios where European crooks were supposed to return favours to Putin after their coming to power. That is why I wouldn’t totally exclude that this Russian military deployment (and that was a purely military operation as military airplanes were used) has one more goal which is espionage.
It would have been too inconsiderate not to take into account that Putin who has been waging an unconventional war against the West for so many years, will not attempt to carry out a subversive operation against the Italian society, taking advantage of the weakness, perplexity, panic and chaos reigning at all its levels. The society that had been pervaded by Russian agents of all sorts well before this current pandemic.
Those who find such a scenario utterly senseless are kindly reminded of the relatively recent occasion when Russian secret services have been caught red-handed by their Dutch colleagues when trying to hack an Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ database in order to compromise the Sergey and Yulia Skripal’s poisoning investigation.
That time Kremlin’s hackers were caught with portable equipment mounted in a car. One would think there was little or no sense in this invariably disastrous operation that was certain to fail because of political, not technical reasons: it was obstinate to the whole world who and how had tried to assassinate GRU’s ex-colonel in his home in the British territory.
Putin thinks in special operation categories, considering any givenness, especially that of a global disaster occurring almost once a century, as an instrument of attaining goals related to further keeping grip of the power in the country, restoring his reputation in the West with simultaneous weakening of Western institution with a view of reconfiguring the international order to his own needs. .
If the implementation of this plan requires the deployment of “polite doctors” under the guise of combating an extraordinary threat to Humanity, then why Putin who didn’t shrink from murdering of tens of thousands in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria, would do so now?