toward the abyss
February 23, 2020

If you saw the reports that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was briefed by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia was trying to aid his Democratic presidential campaign, you might have wondered, why exactly, Moscow was targeting him. After all, President Trump is still apparently the candidate the Kremlin hopes wins, and Sanders and Trump certainly have different ideological stances.

GQ's Julia Ioffe set out to answer that question, and while she reports that some people think Sanders' non-interventionist foreign policy platform is appealing to Moscow, or that he will be easier for Trump to defeat than other more moderate candidates, she also found that it may be more about optics. "The ideal scenario is to maintain schism and uncertainty in the States till the end," said Gleb Pavlovsky, a Russian political scientist who used to advise Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Our candidate is chaos."

Essentially, as described by Ioffe's sources, Moscow is licking its chops over what could be the most extreme U.S. presidential election in quite some time, if not ever, and they want to see the country turn on itself. "All of this infighting, this cannibalism, they create and deepen the crisis of the American system," said Andranik Migranyan, a close friend of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who used to run a Russian government-funded think tank.

Migranyan went on to question — perhaps facetiously — whether the U.S. will still exist after 2025. "Your country is hurtling toward the abyss," he said.

Of course, it's unclear if that's precisely why the Kremlin seems okay with a Sanders victory — and Migranyan denies Russia is actually meddling — but it's not difficult to imagine Moscow would enjoy an even more hotly contested election than in 2016. Read more at GQ. Tim O'Donnell

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