August 22, 2022

Diane Francis

The most audacious attack in this war against Vladimir Putin personally took place on August 20 in Moscow when the daughter of his ultra-nationalist “guru” Alexander Dugin was blown up. The attack was clearly intended for Dugin, who had decided to travel separately in another car at the last minute, and has shaken Russia. Nicknamed “Putin’s Rasputin”, Dugin is a rabid right-wing imperialist and warmonger, and his daughter’s publicized death strikes at the heart of Putin’s image as an infallible strongman. High-profile assassinations are so rare in Russia that this one may signal the start of a civil war within Russia’s powerful SBU or Secret Service who are at odds over the war’s inept prosecution. Her death was immediately blamed by Russian media on Ukraine, but denied, and the crime looks like an inside job. The Kremlin remained silent and a Russian dissident claimed it was the work of an underground anti-Putin Russian organization.

A spokesman for Ukraine’s President denied any involvement and went further by saying “we are not a criminal state like the Russian Federation, much less a terrorist one”. Even so, Ukraine braces for more missile attacks this week in retaliation, something that was already anticipated because the anniversary of its independence is on August 24. More worrisome, however, is the longer term significance to the war of this murder. Her violent death bookmarks a week of terrible and uniquely public setbacks for Moscow that are unsettling to the Russian public itself. It began with major attacks against Russia’s naval base in Crimea last week that sent shock waves through Russian society for the first time in this war. This is because the region is a mecca for tourists and the bombings drove hundreds of thousands of panicked Russian tourists back home. Now, just days later, one of the country’s highest profile, and most strident, commentators is blown to pieces in a Moscow suburb and her death is covered on Russian Television for hours.

Since the war, Dugin and his late daughter have been fixtures on Russian television and media, spewing their hatred toward Ukraine and the West. So the assassination, intended for both of them, will certainly upend national attitudes. It may weaken support for Putin or the war and it may strengthen it, allowing Putin to be more vengeful and Dugin even more extreme. The day before his daughter died, Dugin posted online that Russia should put its entire society on a war footing to beat Ukraine, and added that the attacks on Crimea by Ukraine with Western weaponry meant that a compromise was impossible.

The Dugin factor in Putin’s calculus cannot be under-estimated. He’s been the architect of Putin’s foreign and military policies for 22 years and is a powerful figure among Russian elites. Last October 21, I wrote a newsletter titled “Putin’s Rasputin” which profiled Dugin and his philosophy. It also forewarned what was about to happen to Ukraine and Europe four months later based on what Dugin wrote in his 1997 book The Foundations of Geopolitics. The book outlined a strategy to conquer the world and it’s tragic that Western leaders never studied it. The highlights are repeated here and Putin’s adherence is chilling.

In 1997, Dugin separated war into two categories: “hybrid wars” or “hot wars”. He tailored his tactics regionally. For instance, he recommended that the United States and the United Kingdom be isolated from their European allies, and the divisions and racism in their societies be exploited to demoralize and create chaos. And this sabotage was adopted with varying rates of success — Russia played an outsized role in electing an isolationist and disruptive President Donald Trump, influencing prominent American Senators and Congressmen, and also in bringing about Brexit, effectively weakening the European Union. Further, Dugin’s book suggested that Russia wade into the Middle East through an alliance with Iran, court India intensely, and meddle in the affairs of Libya, Syria, Turkey, Georgia, Moldova, and Azerbaijan.

Dugin called this stragegy of conquest and influence “Eurasianism” and believed in the superiority of Russians, based on concocted Slavic mythology that is creepily reminiscent of Hitler’s mystical belief in a superior white Aryan race and lebensraum or an expansive territory to reach its potential. Dugin’s influence is not confined to Russia. He is on a first-name basis with alt-right American guru Steve Bannon and various Brexit and European extremists.

Dugin also recommended that:

— Russia’s oil and gas must be weaponized to bully or co-opt countries.

— Germany must have political dominance over the Protestant and Catholic states in Central and Eastern Europe and France should be encouraged to form a bloc with Germany. (Notably, these two were hand-picked by Moscow to manage peace talks with Ukraine after the first invasion in 2014. Not surprisingly, both failed to make any progress in helping Ukraine against its aggressor.) Dugin argued the two would be helpful to the creation of Russia’s Eurasian Empire because they both harbor a “firm anti-Atlanticist [anti-American and anti-Anglo] tradition”.

— Dugin supported Brexit based on his belief that the United Kingdom was an “extraterritorial floating base of the US” that had to be cut off from Europe. It was.

— Dugin suggested in 1997 that Ukraine be annexed outright. That’s being attempted now.

— Dugin wanted recapture of all the “stans” of Central Asia, but China — which he said represented a danger to Russia — must be dismantled with Tibet going to Russia as a buffer. In return, Moscow would help China conquer or control southeast Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand. But Japan, he said, should be given the Kuril Islands as long as Tokyo turns against the Americans. Mongolia would become Russian.

— The United States should be destabilized by stirring up racism, secessionism, and isolationism. Similar strategies should be undertaken in South and Central America, notably Venezuela because of its oil.

Dugin’s daughter Darya was just four years old when the book was written but grew up to fiercely propagate its ideas and to support Putin. She became a household word and routinely characterized the world as a “clash of civilizations”, fiercely supported the Ukrainian invasion and pushed for more military aggression around the world. Both father and daughter were sanctioned: The U.S. and UK imposed sanctions on Darya because of her outspoken support for

violence in Ukraine and her father was sanctioned in 2015 by the U.S. for his involvement in the annexation of Crimea.

Now Darya is dead, but her father and his twisted philosophy will survive as long as Putin remains in power. The perpetrators of this brazen attack may never be found and police have only said evidence points to a “murder for hire”. Who or why this happened will remain anyone’s guess or propaganda point, but it underscores the need to destroy Russia’s army and its economy. There can be no compromises or peace with zealots bent on world domination. Until Putin is replaced by a credible, reasonable leader or Russia is dismantled, civilized countries will remain hostage to this deep-seated Russian megalomania.