The ‘Putin Parachute’ – Russian Influence in U.S. By Way of Armenia

07.07.18
RIA Novosti
World News /07 Jul 2018
07.07.18

The ‘Putin Parachute’ – Russian Influence in U.S. By Way of Armenia

Perhaps so subtle, not even the Producers behind the hit ANC television show, “The Americans” could catch it.

Perhaps so deeply ingrained, Russia Today need not defend it, because so few challenge it as anything but the status quo.

However, as President Trump prepares for his July 16th Summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, it is important to take a look at Russian influence on American policy today, accomplished by way of its proxy state, Armenia.

As Russia Today had most notably been forced to register under the DoJ Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and the ‘Russia Collusion’ witch-hunt took firm hold of the American consciousness, things were not looking good for Red Square in asserting its will on U.S. foreign policy. However, in calculated fashion, Russia has increasingly leveraged its allies to lobby for them.

Armenia, for instance, with its 3 million-strong population, declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then, while ‘free’ on paper, the country continues to live under the shadow of the Kremlin. While in the early days, Armenia had tried to ascertain its freedoms, today it marches in unison with the Kremlin on a myriad of policies beneficial only to Russia’s geopolitical positioning.

And Armenian hands are for the most part tied when not in outright revolt, relying on Russian military support for a conflict with Azerbaijan that Russia continues to stoke, funding and supporting both sides of the disagreement. Russia’s interests are clearly to keep Azerbaijan and Armenia in strife, inflating a demand for Russian military presence in the region and consolidating Russian forces closer to the West.

In spite of all of this, Armenia continues to enjoy support from the West, particularly American politicians lobbied by certain Armenian diaspora groups unknowingly towing the Kremlin party line. Politicians have been known to visit Armenian separatists despite vociferous objections from the State Department and in the face of longstanding official U.S. policy not recognizing the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Additionally, the U.S. recently granted an entrance visa to the de-facto leader of the rebel state.

In the House, members such as Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, notorious for an unannounced visit to Syria and hosting then pro-Assad sentiments, was recently quoted as saying “…the resilience and courage I witnessed in the people of the Nagorno-Karabakh region who remain in an ongoing conflict over their independence, further demonstrates our shared values of freedom, democracy, and self-determination.” At the time, a powerful Armenian-interest lobbying group in the United States, accompanied and hosted her. What is most shocking about her statement is that no UN member country, not even Armenia, recognizes the legitimacy of this region.

Despite this, Armenian lobbying has succeeded in convincing eight U.S. states to do just that, in the face of overwhelming evidence of Russian deployment of arms and military personnel in the region.

It is unlikely that many Armenians living in the U.S. care much for local politics; many only want peace to return to their homeland. But Armenia was under the hegemony of Moscow throughout much of their lives; now it appears to be headed that way again.

The biggest concern for Armenian-Americans should be Russian money and influence speaking on their behalf through the Armenian lobby and for Americans, what this money represents and who it ultimately benefits.

While the president is away, and focused on Putin in Finland, the lobby’s tentacles continue to influence American Congressional leaders such as Rep. Gabbard towards Russian interests. How America reacts to such a two-pronged approach remains to be seen.

For now, everyone seems too distracted with surface-level investigations to notice the bigger picture and future of Kremlin influence peddling by proxy; a parachute in the clear and present case of Russian reputational emergency.

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