With relentless operators like Russian President Vladimir Putin, if you don’t stop them elsewhere you’ll soon find them inside your own walls. His unpunished 2008 invasion of Georgia launched a multi-year momentum that culminated in a leak-attack on the levers of American democracy yesterday.
You know about the open warfare stepping stones in Crimea, Donbass and Syria. You likely don’t know about the many more cyberwar incidents in between. Many experts already blame Russia for the flood of Wikileaks documents aimed at dividing the DNC opposition to Trump. In fact, Moscow has honed its skills up to this point by imposing on the elections of numerous countries, most of them American allies, through sophisticated digital and media interventions at critical moments. Should you harbor doubts about Russia’s hand in the recent document dump, consider other comparable examples.
I covered the Georgian national election in 2012 for Newsweek and saw the KGB’s handiwork close-up in Tbilisi where, some ten days before the vote, television channels broadcast mysteriously leaked videos of prison abuse. Pre-incited crowds hit the streets blaming the pro-Western government, creating chaos and instability. Meanwhile, on Russian-language channels, Russian military officials talked darkly of preparing to intercede in Georgia to restore order. Ultimately, conclusive information emerged linking the leaked video to pro-Kremlin Georgian mafia abroad–but too late to save the election for President Saakashvili’s anti-Kremlin party.