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The Daily Vertical: Europe Wakes Up (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

Thousands of citizens march in Budapest, chanting "Europe, not Moscow!"

In France, a pro-European centrist is poised to handily defeat a pro-Moscow nationalist in the May 7 presidential election runoff.

Finland and the Czech Republic have established new centers to combat Russian disinformation and hybrid threats.

In Sweden and Finland, the issue of joining NATO is being taken more seriously than ever before.

And Spanish prosecutors are aggressively pursuing cases against Kremlin-connected organized-crime groups.

Don't look now, but across Europe, the backlash against Moscow's efforts to subvert and undermine the EU with disinformation, corruption, hacking, and organized crime is gathering steam.

WATCH Today's Daily Vertical

Speaking at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday, Vladimir Putin said Russia has "never interfered in the political life and political processes in other countries."

Of course, everybody knew he was lying. It comes so naturally to him.

But here's the thing: until recently, Putin nonkinetic assault on Europe enjoyed the benefit of plausible deniability.

Yeah, sure, Poland and the Baltic states would regularly sound the alarm -- but few were listening.

The Kremlin's efforts to undermine Europe's institutions and European unity were stealthy enough and Moscow could largely count on European complacency.

Elites could be corrupted with lucrative sweetheart deals.

The Kremlin's black cash could fatten the ledgers of Western banks and create a ready-made lobby for Moscow.

Gangsters could advance the Kremlin's interests without leaving fingerprints.

But now, the mask is finally off. And the backlash is coming.

Keep telling me what you think on The Power Vertical's Twitter feed and on our Facebook page.

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