Even after almost two years of Russia waging a full-scale war against Ukraine, voices in Europe are raising the possibility of engaging in a dialogue with Moscow, easing sanctions, and reducing support for Ukraine.
However, pro-Kremlin politicians, or those who give in to pressure and blackmailing from the Kremlin, do not understand the key issue: the goal of the Putin regime does not stop at Ukraine. Russia seeks to subjugate Europe and impose its (perverted) version of the international political order. Europeans must understand how the Russians and the ideologues of Moscow’s hybrid aggression see them.
Leaked document: what Russian scholars advice to Putin regime
The Kremlin strategists, political scientists, and hybrid aggression ideologues who likely advise Putin are evidenced to hold the vision, according to official documents obtained by the Center for National Resistance of Ukraine and published by the Ukrainian media, and seen by InsightNews. Employees of the Institute for Scientific Information on Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences conducted a secret study.
On November 14, 2023, the authors internally presented the document “Prospects for the EU and Great Britain and Russian policy on European direction.” Its authors are well-known Russian political scientists:
- Sergey Karaganov, Professor Emeritus, Scientific Director of the Faculty of World Economy and World Politics of the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy;
- Sergey Shein, Research Associate of the Center for Complex European and International Studies, Faculty of World Economy and World Politics, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
The document presents forecasts for the policies of the European Union and the United Kingdom for 2025–2030, as well as expert recommendations to the Russian government for further actions by Moscow to undermine the situation on the continent. It makes clear how the Russian scholars view Europe and Europeans and how it plans to weaken them in order to impose the Kremlin’s agenda and views.
When analyzing documents written for domestic consumption by Putin’s henchmen, one should understand that the authors are typical Russian imperialists. Therefore, despite the sometimes sober assessment of the situation, the study also contains propaganda narratives, such as blaming the United States and the United Kingdom for all the problems.
The Russian regime is calculating every step
Researchers, intelligence officers, and analysts laboriously contribute to the actions of the Kremlin regime, which seem completely insane to the entire civilized world, beyond the manic desires of dictator Putin. The Kremlin usually makes decisions to move from theory to action (including operations abroad) based on the conclusions of pseudo-historians, advisors, and hybrid ideologues.
Despite the senselessness of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, numerous miscalculations about Ukrainian resistance, and an underestimation of the West’s resolve, the Kremlin somehow calculated its actions and their consequences for itself. They continue to do so now, aiming to reduce the West’s support for Ukraine. Moscow is likely to adopt the solutions proposed by scientists from the Institute for Scientific Information on Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Russians see Europe as weak and indecisive
Judging by the conclusions reached by Russian researchers, the EU’s reaction to the invasion of Ukraine was not so harsh that it would have reduced the desire to escalate the conflict. Moreover, in their report, the Russian political scientists foresee further weakening of the EU.
In their study, Russian analysts noted that by 2030, the EU and the UK will suffer from an even greater influx of migrants, so London and Brussels will have to create new programs to support refugees and focus on internal problems. This, according to the Russian scholars, will directly affect the ability of Kyiv’s partner states to develop their military-industrial complex and provide military assistance to Ukraine.
“In this situation (the migration crisis), the EU countries will most likely have to abandon efforts announced today in the course of the Ukrainian conflict to increase their global role, intensify defense cooperation, and increase military expenditures.”Extract from the report prepared by Russian political scientists
The Kremlin is pinning its hopes on the migration crisis and the far right
Furthermore, the growing migration problems are providing Moscow with new opportunities to promote Russian-backed political forces and far-right parties to governments. Russian researchers in the report emphasize that these parties are calling for a renewed dialogue with the Kremlin. After all, information about the Kremlin’s financial ties to right-wing radicals in Europe, such as Marine Le Pen in France, is not new.
So there is no doubt that the Russians will continue their hybrid aggression, fueling conflict in Asia and Africa, where a Russian Wagner paramilitary group is present, helping migrants from impacted countries enter Europe illegally. This tactic is extremely beneficial for the Kremlin, as it increases economic pressure on the West and fuels domestic political chaos.
Russians see France as a “jocker” and hope that right or left radicals come to power
Having analyzed the EU’s response to all the challenges of the Russian-Ukrainian war, Kremlin researchers have concluded that there has been no consolidation of EU institutions and that Ukraine’s support is largely based solely on the initiatives of individual states. Therefore, according to Putin’s political scientists, in 2025–2030, Brussels will lose its influence, and the member states will become increasingly disunited.
They believe that Germany and France will only be able to unite everyone around the idea of opposing the Kremlin and thus consolidating the European Union if they completely renew their own political elites. Because the current governments are not decisive enough and are unable to reach an agreement with each other, they think. The Russians perceive France as a joker that would improve relations with Moscow and Beijing if far-right or far-left forces came to power.
“The politicization of the migration issue is transforming the European political space. The EU’s reaction to the migration crisis of 2015–2016 caused the growth of extreme right-wing forces and the “correction” of the political mainstream. The next electoral cycles in the EU member states, as well as the 2024 and 2029 elections to the European Parliament, will most likely demonstrate the growing influence of “soft” Eurosceptics and nationalists. As a rule, these political forces (“AdG” and “Left” in Germany, “Rassemblement Nationale” in France, etc.) speak from more pro-Russian positions, calling for an end to anti-Russian sanctions and the resumption of dialogue with Russia.”Extract from the report prepared by Russian political scientists
It is worth noting that both the far-right (Le Pen) and far-left (Melenchon) presidential candidates in France have spoken in favor of a dialogue with Russia and against anti-Russian sanctions.
“If right-wing or left-wing national forces win in France, the country may move to the position of the southern periphery, gravitating towards better relations with China and Russia, and the “tandem” will begin to collapse. France is the “joker”.”Extract from the report prepared by Russian political scientists
Russia clearly realizes that the lifting of sanctions is unlikely, but they hope for their easing. Instead, they note that in 2025–2030, it will be the sanctions policy that will serve as a unifying factor for the European Union.
However, every year, Western countries will face attempts not to harm their own economies and businesses. That is why Putin’s scholars do not predict any breakthroughs in sanctions: they will not stop buying nuclear fuel and diamonds from Moscow, the Russian scientists believe.
However, experts do not recommend that the Russian leadership consider European countries as serious economic partners. Experts state that Moscow has lost these markets, and former major buyers can easily replace its gas and oil.
Therefore, political advisors suggest that Putin and his government establish cooperation with the so-called “pragmatic” countries. By these, Russian political scientists, ideologues of Russian influence expansion, mean those that allegedly have a pro-Russian policy: Austria, Hungary, Greece, and Slovakia, as the document reads.
“By 2030, the countries of the EU’s “semi-periphery” and “periphery” will more intensively diversify their foreign policy based on domestic needs and the growing conflict with Brussels. This will create opportunities for Russia’s interaction with the most pragmatically inclined participants in the integration association. First of all, we are talking about Austria, Hungary, Greece, and Slovakia.”Extract from the report prepared by Russian political scientists
At the same time, the Russian scholars emphasize that the interaction between Russia and Brussels should only be for the purpose of fueling discord between EU member states. They want conflicts to arise between those who want to do business with the Russians and their opponents, which will weaken the EU as an institution. The Russians do not believe in the EU’s decisiveness, especially when it comes to granting Ukraine EU membership.
“It does not seem likely that the number of members of the integration association will expand in the period until 2030, despite granting Ukraine and Moldova EU candidate status in 2022.”Extract from the report prepared by Russian political scientists
The Russians want to divide Europe, seize the Suwalki corridor, and make nuclear threats
In general, Putin’s ideologues believe that immediately after the end of active hostilities, Russia should still reduce the flow of hatred and start appeasing Europe. First of all, there are business representatives who do not care about the moral aspects of cooperation with Moscow. Researchers want to establish academic and tourist contacts with some European countries.
“After the end of hostilities in Ukraine, when there will still be a fairly high degree of transatlantic unity, the RF should focus on developing contacts with Europe at the level of business (working or working in the RF), academic community, cultural institutions, and tourist contacts where possible and beneficial.”Extract from the report prepared by Russian political scientists
“In the medium term, the EU business, working on the Russian market and pushed out of the world markets by China’s competition and US protectionism, will be one of the initiators of restoring relations with Russia.”Extract from the report prepared by Russian political scientists
The Russian regime ideologues develop a tailored influence strategy for every country. To the Balkan countries, as well as to Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, Russians want to sell the idea that they are the “real Europe” and the “bearers of traditional values.” At the same time, they emphasize that Poles will not fully consume hostile narratives, but the promotion of such propaganda will contribute to the division of the European Union.
The Kremlin authorities advise continuing maximum cooperation with Hungary, but caution that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban can only serve as a situational ally for Moscow.
However, it is absolutely impossible to assume that the Russians are really going to end the active phase of the war in Ukraine and switch exclusively to hybrid actions against civilized countries.
In the event of a so-called escalation of the conflict (after 2025), the document reads that the ideologues of modern Russian imperialism want to “move up the ladder of nuclear deterrence-intimidation” and, if they have the resources, seize the Suwalki corridor or transfer control of it to “peacekeeping forces” from countries friendly to Russia. In other words, we are reading about a direct invasion of Poland and Lithuania, with the possible direct involvement of Moscow’s allies. They also mention possible strikes on Western airfields where F-16s are based.
“In the event of a probable and, apparently, expedient escalation of the conflict around Ukraine, the issue of its horizontal expansion (strikes on airfields where F-16s will be based) will inevitably be considered. Then, in parallel with moving up the nuclear escalation ladder of deterrence-intimidation, and if resources are available, it is worth considering the return of the Suvalki corridor or giving it international status under the control of peacekeeping forces from friendly countries.”Extract from the report prepared by Russian political scientists
Even more cynical against the background of the suggestion to attack NATO countries is the fact that, in parallel with the development of such plans, the Russians want to promote reducing military activity in the region as well as take confidence-building measures. For this purpose, they want to use such platforms as the OSCE and the UN.
Russian elites miss Europe
Despite the fact that Russia has already set its strategic direction toward China, Russian scholars recognize that representatives of Russian elites still “suffer from Eurocentrism.” Therefore, in 2025–2030, experts strongly advise Moscow to avoid discussing any kind of détente in relations with Europe in order to prevent fueling the relevant sentiments of influential people.
In the context of sanctions and bans, in order to reassure the Russian population, researchers demand that propaganda emphasize that Russia is a “civilized state” and suggest calling Russians “true Europeans.”
Dragging China into the Ukraine war is a dream of Russian scholars
By 2025, Russian political scientists predict that Ukraine will transform into an anti-Russian bastion if the conflict between Russia and Ukraine prolongs or freezes.
Therefore, Russian regime ideologues believe that Moscow’s best option for its own security and the weakening of the EU would be to deploy a peacekeeping contingent from China, India, Pakistan, and Arab countries to central and western Ukraine. In this way, they hope to drag China into the war. It is unclear how Putin will convince China and put this idea into practice, as Russian analysts have not provided a detailed plan.
Russia has no plans to end the war in Ukraine or hybrid aggression in Europe
It is also unclear how the ideologues of spreading Russian hybrid influence see the end of Putin’s so-called “special military operation”: through negotiations, pressure on Ukraine, or by freezing the conflict. However, even under these conditions, it is clear that no matter what Putin says or what security guarantees the Russians provide for the EU, Russians live in confrontation with the West and hybrid aggression against the EU.
They believe that Ukraine’s European partners have not shown a willingness to escalate the situation and act as decisively as possible. The Russian regime perceives weakness as a green light for further aggression. Therefore, even if the war in Ukraine becomes a positional or frozen war, the Kremlin will not stop its aggression because the goal of the Putin regime is not only the destruction of Ukraine but also the collapse of a united Europe for the sake of its own imperial ambitions.
For years, Russia’s military and political leadership has been creating a foreign policy image of a state capable of dialogue that can do anything to achieve its own goals. Flirting with Western politicians, the Kremlin has constantly tread red lines, attacked peaceful countries, provoked migration crises, committed crimes on the territory of other states, carried out hacker attacks, and influenced elections around the world.
A vast network of Moscow spies under the guise of diplomatic posts undermined the security order of the world, lied about Russia not being an aggressor country, and did everything to make civilized states react weakly to its defiant actions. This will not change if the current regime in Russia remains in place.