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A veteran of the CIA about the growth of Russian influence: all only begins
Material posted: Publication date: 07-12-2014

In the event of failure of economic reforms in Ukraine, this area will again be under the strong influence of Russia, warns one of the former heads of the CIA John McLaughlin. The expert sees no reasons why Russia will cease to increase the influence in other republics of the former Soviet Union because Putin has enough popular support, he writes in the edition of OZY.

A year has passed since the beginning of the "troubles" in Ukraine: first, there were protests against the government, which under the pressure of Moscow refused from the Association agreement with the EU, then the government was overthrown, Russia "regained" the Crimea, and erupted due to "the invasion of the Eastern Ukraine" the conflict was "frozen" together with the Russian troops present there. What will next year bring? Your thoughts on this in the article on the resource OZY has described the former Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin.

Ukraine remained vulnerable to Russian pressure due to the fact that two decades – since the independence in 1991 – delayed reforms. Now the growth rate went down by 5%, inflation is above 14% and the state of its debts to the IMF assesses as "risky".
The government of Petro Poroshenko will have to fight corruption, boost the economy and reduce the deficit in the energy sector. Fortunately, the author notes, elected in October, the Parliament of Ukraine – the Pro-reform in its history. However, the authorities did not immediately able to fulfil the expectations of society, and in case of failure, Ukraine will be weak and more vulnerable to Russian influence.
Vladimir Putin, meanwhile,"aggression in Ukraine" brought a record popularity – around 85%, so he has no political incentive to change the political course. Besides, he controls the media, so that "even if you want the people of Russia can only hear his message, "says John McLaughlin.
And what about sanctions? They really started to have an impact on the Russian economy: inflation is rising, "the deficit blooms", the capitals running away, and the business is in a quandary. It would seem that all conditions have been created for the people disappointed in his leader, but Russians are known for their stoicism in the face of difficulties and respond well to a strong leader and nationalist message. It is unlikely that in 2015 Putin will change course, says the author OZY: with the help of the media he can put the blame on the US and Europe.
So what's next? Many in Ukraine believe that Russia "will take the" new territories to create a "land bridge" from mainland Russia to Crimea. At the same time Russia is doing everything possible to isolate the former Soviet republics from the West. For example, it is putting pressure on Moldova, so she gave up on negotiations on Association with the EU is similar to "repetition of the Ukrainian drama,"said the former Deputy head of the CIA.
Russia, maybe, even will encourage the separatist regions of Transnistria to declare independence. This is also not new to Moscow have used this technique in the conflict with Georgia in 2008. It also uses economic levers, warning Serbia not to get closer to Europe. "And it works: Serbia gave to Putin in October, its highest state award". Their power and influence she enjoys in order to build influence in the country of NATO member Bulgaria.
However, while Putin did not interfere in Ukrainian manner in the Affairs of NATO, while the Baltic States must "seduce", says John McLaughlin. In Estonia, for example, in the depressed city of Narva on border with Russia 80% of the population is Russian, and 36% -- already have Russian passports. Putin could easily inflame the already existing their dissatisfaction with the fact that to obtain citizenship and work in the public sector need to know the Estonian language, and then say that they need help on humanitarian grounds.
In that context, NATO's actions will be the third significant factor in the coming year, writes the author of OZY. The Alliance will face a crisis, if even one Russian soldier crossed the Estonian border. Since then the Tallinn appeals to the fifth article of the NATO Treaty on collective defence, and some of the 28-member Alliance's strong economic ties with Russia.
Military unit already places separate the countries of Eastern Europe and the Baltic States small group of troops, plus the formation of four thousand people is always at the ready. Alas, this is unlikely to work against Putin's "hybrid war", which combines "the special forces, cybertecture, propaganda, control over media, the main troops and manipulative public statements". So "expanding Russian "sphere of influence", it seems, has only begun", concludes the former Deputy head of the CIA on the website OZY.

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