Putin’s Revenge: How the Kremlin Fosters Destabilizing Refugee Flows Into Europe

Refugees the world over fleeing economic hardship, natural disaster, and warfare have long looked to Europe as a prime destination.  The impact of their mass migration there has, predictably, been deeply traumatizing for the host nations and their citizens.  That is especially true of the hijra – the Islamic practice of migrating Muslim populations to spread the faith and its supremacist doctrine known as Sharia – that followed the outbreak of the so-called “Arab Spring” across the Middle East in 2011-2012.  What ensued in much of the European Union was a tidal wave of predominantly single, military-age young men, in numbers unseen there since the invasions of the Ottoman Empire.

It is an open secret that Vladimir Putin has sought to rebuild and exercise Russia’s influence for the purpose of exacting revenge against those he holds responsible for the “greatest catastrophe of the 20th Century” – i.e., the fall of the Soviet Union. Preeminent among them is Western Europe and the NATO alliance.

Putin’s desire to get even can only have intensified with Europe’s imposition of sanctions against Russia for its seizure of Crimea and ongoing intervention elsewhere in Ukraine.

In a new Occasional Paper issued by the Center for Security Policy entitled “Vladimir Putin’s Revenge: Russia as a Catalyst for the Refugee Crisis that is Destabilizing Europe,” co-authors Jeff Nyquist and Dr. Anca-Maria Cernea offer evidence that suggests that the Russian government is deliberately contributing to the world’s worst refugee crisis and exploiting its geostrategic effects.

For example, the impact of the Russian offensive in Syria – much of it delivered by massively destructive air strikes – was felt quickly in the targeted areas and greatly exacerbated the human suffering experienced by those who lived there.  As would have been expected by the Kremlin and its allies in Damascus and Iran, a sizeable proportion of them would flee and for most the destination of choice would be Europe.

Nyquist and Cernea argue that, in some measure at least, the massive flows of refugees out of areas as far-flung as Afghanistan, the Middle East, and North Africa are actually managed flows, either precipitated or encouraged by Russia – together with its increasingly aligned strategic partner, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey – with a view to destabilizing Europe.

As could have been reliably expected, the incessant influx of predominantly Sharia-adherent Muslims not only burdened European economic and social capacities. It has also served to exacerbate tensions between the EU nations’ political left (that has generally supported open borders and an unchecked refugee flows) and their political right (whose opposition to that immigration sometimes propelled it to closer ties with Russia).

Nyquist and Cernea quote the former Romanian Minister for Communications and Information, Marius Bostan, who said that the interlinked global refugee crises “should be regarded as a hybrid war operation against the West.”  Its principal perpetrator is Vladimir Putin.

The concerns raised in this paper demand serious review by the U.S. and allied governments as they assess – and determine how to respond to – a variety of other Russian threats to the West across a strategic span of warfare techniques that is only sometimes kinetic.

Upon the release of this newest of the Center’s Occasional Paper series, its President, Frank J. Gaffney observed:

There is a growing sense that, as a result of the unassimable masses that have effectively invaded the European Union in recent years, much of the region – especially the nations in its west – are approaching a tipping point. Some may actually have been so severely destabilized that they are actually beyond the point of no return.

While there are, of course, multiple factors that have contributed to this dire situation, not least the policies of many of the affected countries themselves, it is important to examine Russia’s role and the degree to which it is, at least in the near term, a principal beneficiary of the mayhem now unfolding in Europe.  The evidence in this regard presented by Jeff Nyquist and Dr. Anca-Maria Cernea is compelling.  It demands careful consideration by the Trump administration and our NATO allies – apart, of course, from another of the wellsprings of Europe’s destabilization: Turkey.If validated, appropriate countermeasures must be developed and implemented with the utmost urgency.

“Vladimir Putin’s Revenge: Russia as a Catalyst for the Refugee Crisis that is Destabilizing Europe” can also be viewed and downloaded for free in PDF format at the Center for Security Policy website.

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