The waning weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency must feel like victory laps in the Kremlin. As Trump keeps trying to subvert the results of November’s election, with wild calls to impose martial law now coming up in paranoid White House meetings, he is also downplaying a huge cyberattack on America’s most critical computer networks, widely attributed to Russia. Moscow’s greatest nemesis and former arch-rival is laying coat after coat of fresh muck on the once-shiny patina of its international reputation and prestige.
They were built on notions that once seemed almost unshakable: universal-seeming values of democracy and the rule of law. Beyond such things, there was also an American example that other countries were urged to aspire to but few could quite match—of solid institutions, unswayed by the political winds of each season.
But recent days have shown that, despite presumably celebrating the ongoing American spectacle, Putin has also been busy preparing for what’s next. The recent revelations about the deep and widespread Russian breach of American computer networks should be understood as a mere preview.