Individuals and organisations across the British political spectrum have over recent years established connections with their counterparts in Russia, many of which are funded or supported by the Kremlin to undermine the West.
In the UK, a variety of individuals, movements, and political parties have deepened ties with Russia since the Ukraine crisis. A new policy paper from The Henry Jackson Society, Putin’s Useful Idiots: Britain’s Left, Right and Russia, shows that this has involved vocal support for Russia’s foreign policy, appearances on Russian state-owned propaganda networks, and collaboration with Kremlin-backed organisations.
The absurdity of this situation is highlighted by the growing connections between British left-wing movements and the Russian far-right. Stop the War Coalition, for example, has organised rallies for Boris Kagarlitsky, a Putin apologist, and aligned itself with his organisation, the Kremlin-funded “Institute for Globalisation and Social Movements”. Kagarlitsky used the platform provided by Stop the War to deny that Russia was waging war in Ukraine and dismiss claims that pro-Russian rebels shot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. While Kagarlitsky presents himself as a left-wing figure in the UK, in Russia he is associated with far-right organisations, including the Florian Geyer Club, a right-wing movement founded by former members of the neo-Nazi “Black Order of the SS”.
The policy paper makes a number of recommendations, including the need to redouble efforts to point out the pro-Russian connections of individuals and groups across the political spectrum, to highlight the funding channels that exist between such individuals and groups, and the necessity of raising awareness about the nature of the Russian regime.
Dr Andrew Foxall, Director of The Russia Studies Centre at The Henry Jackson Society, said:
“Although it was evident beforehand, since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 populists across Europe have aligned themselves with the Kremlin. Here in the UK, individuals and organisations on the left and right of the political spectrum have acted similarly, establishing or deepening relations with the Russian regime.
Ideological slippage or overlapping interests are not sufficient to explain this. They have become more than simply dupes or useful idiots; after the events in Ukraine, it beggars belief that anyone can be unaware of the true nature of President Putin’s grotesquely corrupt kleptocracy. Instead, these individuals and organisations have consciously validated the Kremlin’s messages, creating a pro-Russian echo chamber in the UK.”
To read the full policy paper click here
Notes to Editors:
The Henry Jackson Society is a think tank and policy-shaping force that fights for the principles and alliances which keep societies free – working across borders and party lines to combat extremism, advance democracy and real human rights, and make a stand in an increasingly uncertain world. Henry Jackson Society research and events provide key analysis and insight to policy- makers and the media.
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