Rise of radical nationalism across Europe plays to Putin’s advantage

Bloomberg reports: A growing pro-Kremlin contingent in Europe, likely emboldened by Russia’s decision to withdraw most of its forces from Syria, is tipping popular sentiment further toward President Vladimir Putin.

The most pressing of the issues vital to Putin is European Union sanctions against Russia, introduced in the wake of Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine in 2014. It’s hard to say whether the EU can preserve unity on the subject for much longer, said Petras Vaitekūnas, the former Lithuanian foreign minister, who advises the Ukrainian Security Council.

“I expect big problems with that, and with our ability to repulse Putin’s onslaught,” he said.

Ten days ago, yet another far-right party supporting Russia gained a foothold in an EU country, this time Slovakia. People’s Party, Our Slovakia won 8% of the vote in national elections, joining a burgeoning club including Hungary’s Jobbik, Greece’s Golden Dawn and Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France.

The far-right parties, which often stem from neo-Nazi groups and sport crypto-fascist insignia, are the most visible layer of the pro-Russia camp in Europe. With Europe engulfed in a migrant crisis sparked by the war in Syria, their anti-immigrant and anti-EU rhetoric is in hot demand across the continent, particularly in the east. Party leaders are frequent guests in Moscow, and many of them are closely linked to Russia’s own reactionary networks. Together, they are nudging the political mainstream toward radical nationalism, which these days often comes hand in hand with pro-Russian sentiment. [Continue reading…]

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