International conference Civil Defence in Hybrid Warfare is being held at the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union on Friday. Lithuanian and foreign experts discuss civil defence and readiness to repel unconventional threats. Edward Lucas said that talking about Russia’s future a distinction has to be made between the regime, the business model and the personality of Vladimir Putin. According to Lucas the regime is the most important. He quoted the British investor Bill Browder who has said that a thousand wealthiest Russians embezzled around a trillion US dollars in 10 years.
According to Lucas, the embezzlement business model is very useful and Russians wish to continue it. It could be changed someday by selling some of Russian national property to foreigners, but as long as the model is functioning there is no interest for a change. The question is under how much threat the Russians are ready to put this business model by taking military aggression. Lucas said they might stop and return to the ordinary practice of embezzlement.
Nonetheless, Lucas predicts a gloomy future for Russia. He says people have no trust in the country, it is torn apart and not even the Russians but ethnic groups living in Russia feel the most animosity. Some consider Putin to be similar to Hitler. According to Lucas, Tatars, Yakuts or Chechens do not regard themselves Russian, even though they are part of the Federation.
Lucas proposed to distinguish friendly Russians from the hostile Putin’s regime. According to the analyst, even though Putin claims he is supported by the whole nation, this is not the case. There is a lot of “brainwashing” and propaganda, but many Russians still dislike Putin, including those in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Lucas proposes to attract honest Russian businessmen, invite them to live, work and relocate businesses to a democratic country which does not need dirty Russia’s money and money laundering.
Honest Russians can do business in a Western Country, even feel more tolerated and maintain more dignity than in Russia. Lucas says this is important not only in the area of business but also in education, as Russia’s education system, especially history, is completely defiled and subject to propaganda. Lucas proposed to establish an impartial Russian university in Lithuania or Poland in the future where lecturers would teach in the Russian language without any restrictions or distortions.
Lucas also emphasised the information war that Russia has waged. According to him, Russia is attempting to influence the Baltic States through three F’s – failed state, freedom and fascism. The analyst says, Russia is propagating fascist marches and implies that the Baltic States are isolated while the West would not come to help.
Lucas welcomed Lithuania’s energy independence and urged other countries to follow the example. He said that corruption is the greatest weapon of Russia. In order to counter all these attacks people must not panic. According to him, Putin wants people to feel failure, as if 1940s have returned and people should flee abroad with their money.
Lucas emphasised planning and readiness. He said that the West is not going to attack Russia, but Russia is planning to attack the West, and we must be ready to respond and act according to plan if it happens.
Finally, Lucas urged not to be hypnotised by statements that Russia is a powerful country, he said its economy has been stagnant and amounts to around USD 2 trillions. With 140 million inhabitants this is equal to Indonesia and Vietnam. Meanwhile, Europe’s economy totals USD 20 trillion and the US economy – USD 40 trillion.
Lucas said that the West is losing to Russia not because the western countries are week, but because they lack the will. He added that Putin cannot be allowed to win only because he wants to.