Be it a sudden surge in the effectiveness of Russia's international espionage and cyber warfare operations or a mere figment of the imaginations of a frightening group of politicians in the West who fear they're slowly losing control over the masses in their respective countries, one thing is certain, Russia is increasingly being blamed for some very serious "meddling" in foreign affairs.
The problem, of course, is that while everyone from Hillary Clinton to Angela Merkel and Theresa May, among others, attempt to saddle Russia with the blame for their waning popularity, their farcical attempts to identify a scapegoat as a method for sowing unity within their own fractured political parties could very well result in real world consequences, including a return to cold war era military build ups.
As the latest evidence of that fact, Russian President Vladimir Putin recently called on all "large-scale enterprise" to be ready to "increase military production" on a moments notice should the need arise. Per The Independent:
Russian business should be prepared to switch to production to military needs at any time, said Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. The Russian president was speaking at a conference of military leaders in Sochi.
“The ability of our economy to increase military production and services at a given time is one of the most important aspects of military security,” Mr Putin said. “To this end, all strategic, and simply large-scale enterprise should be ready, regardless of ownership.”
A day earlier, the president had spoken of a need to catch up and overtake the West in military technology. “Our army and navy need to have the very best equipment — better than foreign equivalents,” he said. “If we want to win, we have to be better.”
As the Independent notes, Russia's military expenses will cross 3 trillion roubles, or 3.3% of GDP in 2017, which would be a record were it not for one-off costs in 2016. Over the next two years, spending is forecast to be cut back slightly, to approximately 2.8% of GDP.
Though that budget remains less than 30% of the combined Nato budget in Europe, many countries are increasing their military spending in response to the "Russian threat". Nato military command has also been restructured — it says in response to Russian cyber and military threats.
Meanwhile, last Monday British Prime Minister Theresa May said the UK would lead a response to counter “Russian hostility” saying “we know what you are doing and you will not succeed."
"It is Russia's action which threaten the international order on which we all depend. Since then, Russia has fomented conflict in the Donbass, repeatedly violated the national airspace of several European countries and mounted a sustained campaign of cyber espionage and disruption."
"Deploying its state-run media organization to plant fake stories and photo-shopped images in a attempt to sow discord in the West and undermine our institutions."
"So I have a very simple message for Russia. We know what you are doing. And you will not succeed."
Of course, all of this increasing hostility has been born out of Hillary Clinton's inability to simply admit that she lost an election...no, it was $100,000 worth of Russian Facebook ads that changed the course of human history forever...