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Russia’s war against Ukraine has cut short the honeymoon between Moscow and many European illiberal politicians, who are now suddenly at odds with large segments of European public opinion, including many of their voters. Russia’s soft power has indeed been largely destroyed by its use of hard power in Ukraine. Russia has lost its media tools of foreign influence with the banning of RT and Sputnik from many European countries. Entrepreneurs of influence who were in charge of cultivating links with European illiberal forces, such as Russian media mogul Konstantin Malofeev, the former Russian railways director Vladimir Yakunin (sanctioned by the West since Crimea’s annexation), and the unfamous Evgeny Prigozhin are now hit by a fresh barrage of sanctions: they won’t be able to travel to Europe to meet with their counterparts; some of their assets have been seized or frozen.

Everything associated with Russia has now become highly toxic, forcing even European illiberal figures to keep their distance. Yet Russia’s ability to speak to foreign audiences and to be seen as a role model for illiberal ideology and governance has not totally disappeared…

Photo: “Marine Le Pen in Moscow (2017-03-24) 05,” by licensed under CC BY 4.0.