By Kseniya Kirillova, for Defence Report
Materials shedding light on the character of Russian intrusion into internal affairs of the United States and other western countries revealed many tactics of Russian influence abroad – starting from direct lobbying and ending with variety of “special ops disguised under other countries’ flags”. However not many know that core strategies of Russia’s foreign policy and influence on other countries’ decision mechanisms were developed 14 years ago by a Soviet physicist Eduard Lozansky who immigrated to the USA back in 1976. Currently he’s managing a non-profit organization, Russia House in Washington DC, is the director of American University in Moscow, and organizes the annual Worldwide Russian Forum.
Lozansky himself has recently become quite popular. Newsweek, a large American newspaper has published material which features a row of commentators who call Russia House manager’s actions directly an “influence operation” and even express suspicions about his connection to Russian intelligence services.
Indeed, Lozansky’s statements broadcast on main Russian TV networks and sites totally fall in unison with Kremlin’s foreign policy. This includes support for Donald Trump and his battle with key American institutions, claims that US is the only state that can be behind poisoning of the former GRU officer Sergey Skripal, and position on Ukraine. No less demonstrative is the fact of Lozansky’s access to information platforms like Vesty.ru and Izvestia newspaper.
Meanwhile, Lozansky denied the allegations. “If Russia is a friend, it’s good for America…. If you want to call me a propagandist, yes, I accept that, but for the United States, not for Russia,” he said in the interview to Newsweek.
However, even if we set aside Lozansky’s personality and motives for his strange allegiance to Moscow’s course of foreign policy, it is quite interesting to turn attention to the book he wrote called “Ethnos and Lobbying in USA” of Russian lobby perspectives in America” published in Russia back in 2004. Of course, a caveat should be made here about the fact that Russia behaved itself differently on the international arena than today. At that moment there was no invasion of Georgia, annexation of Crimea, and occupation of eastern Ukraine, just like the intervention into the American elections. There was no death of Sergey Magnitsky and Putin’s famous Munich speech of 2007. Many western politicians sincerely believed in the possibility of creation of a unified economic corridor “from Lisbon to Vladivostok”.
Respectively, there is nothing pre-judged about the idea of forming an alliance between Russia and USA for collaborative fight against terrorism, which Lozansky proposed in his book. However even then Lozansky already formulated those destructive tactics in methods of lobbying he was proposing, which became the foundation of Russian foreign policy in our time. Let’s take a closer look at a certain theses from 7th chapter of the monograph, dedicated to problems of lobby creation in the United States.
- One of the most important elements of lobbying Lozansky states is “the process of forming public opinion”, noting that “Congress and US government react quite sensitively to opinions of sovereign of American politics – American people.” Further Lozansky points out that “Russia must undertake colossal effort for formulating its positive image” in the eyes of American society. Note that it’s only talking about the image, vs. taking concrete steps proving Moscow’s reliability as a partner. Of course, the author does not mention in his book such methods of “image creation” as propaganda, slander, forming of an illusory/alternate reality via use of multitude of trolls and other “active activities.” These tactics are fully realized 10 years after Lozansky’s book publication, but their aim remains the same – influence over public opinion of the United States.
- Lozansky pointed out that “majority of Russians will be far more supportive of their country joining world blocks and coalitions which promise them not just economic advantages but not in the least their national renaissance and geopolitical elevation,” thereby clearly defining Moscow’s true goal in relations with the United States.
- Even back in 2004 Lozansky was using Russian nuclear potential as one of his core arguments, calling it “Russian opportunity of external politics” (obviously since any other positive opportunities for conducting external foreign politics Moscow did not possess even then). At the same time Lozansky mentions Russia’s possibility of conducting a nuclear strike on North America, enumerating in detail its nuclear potential and its development perspectives, and again underscores that “there is far more than necessary for annihilation of any civilized infrastructure.” Furthermore, he mentions that all of this “creates a question of global survival of mankind in many ways a function of understanding the conditions of such survival in the Kremlin.” Thus, Lozansky offered the use of nuclear blackmail as an instrument of lobbying for their interests earlier than Putin began using such technique.
- The next subject of Lozansky’s blackmail becomes the threat of destabilization of neighboring regions (also attributed by the author to the “Russian opportunity of external politics”). Specifically, Lozansky directly claims that “marginalization of enormous Russia makes it capable of pushing future Kremlin leaders on conscious destabilization measures.” Lozansky also scares his readers with the possibility of Russia turning “to its undercover-fascist authoritarian nationalism.” All that remains after this is to express surprise as to why the author does not want to accept that today his prognosis fully materialized.
- Lozansky directly points out that the Russians who live abroad constitute a mechanism of Russian influence on corresponding countries’ policy. Here he notes that thanks to 25,000,000 Russians living in neighboring countries, “Russia is capable of affecting its geographical surrounding, orienting it in one direction or another.”
- And of course, Russia would not be Russia if it did not again remind us all about it’s veto power in UN’s security council, as well as it’s enormous natural resources, foremost being oil and gas.
- Certainly the “whip” must be followed by a “honey cookie”, and thus having finished the listing of possible threats Lozansky now returns to a tempting perspective of battling a “common enemy”: China and Islamic terrorism.
- As the next step Lozansky offers a “creation in the US of one or more influential lobbying organizations, whose goal would be the advancing of the ideal of long-term and mutually beneficial bilateral relationship between Russia and America.” As we observe today, this point of his program has been accomplished quite successfully.
- Further, Lozansky moves on directly to lobbying tactics about convergence with Russia inside the US, repeating again that “legislative apparatus and government of the US in no way can ignore opinions of any given part of the US population” and that the very diaspora must carry out main functions of lobbyists. At the same time, he complains that at the time of his writing different waves of russian emigration “were able to neither organize nor create channels of influence on American lawmakers and governing administrations.” Here Lozansky directly points out that “such organization is unlikely to be created without official support from Moscow.”
“It’s absolutely necessary to create a serious lobbying structure in Washington with branches in the places of permanent residence of compatriots – New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Boston and some other centers,” Lozansky advises. Further, he lists the main tasks of this structure, including “to seek the elimination of discriminatory laws against Russia.”
- Finally Lozansky designates “public layers and groups of interests in the US”, onto which the newly created structure would lean. That includes businessmen, politicians and international experts, religious confessions, russophiles, slavists and politologists. As to the financing of this structure being created, in the initial stages Lozansky suggests using “Russian companies looking to get into American market.”
As we can see virtually all these proposals have materialized today, except, alas, they do not serve the “creation of friendly relations and alliances between Russia and the US”, as Lozansky was promising 14 years ago, but advancing of Moscow’s destructive external policy and disruption of American democracy.
By Kseniya Kirillova, for Defence Report
Author’s Note: Material for this research (chapter 7 from the Lozansky book) was provided to the author by Grant Stern