As far as Ukraine is concerned, the Kremlin’s propaganda has been surprisingly well-received in diverse quarters, as evidenced by comments both at the left-leaning Crooked Timber and on pro-Trump sites. The same probably applies to Moscow’s Syrian narrative, but I cannot estimate with acceptable precision how far it deviates from the truth, since the truth is evasive in that conflict. In the Ukrainian case, I simply know that the Ukrainian revolution of 2013-14 was not a bloody fascist coup, and that’s truth enough for me.
There must be still limits on how wide and deep that propaganda can reach into the minds of politically aware Americans and Europeans. I hear that RT is practically agitating for Donald Trump – and cannot believe it. If Moscow seriously thinks that shouting its support for Trump from the rooftops is going to help, rather than hurt, his electoral prospects, one wonders whether its preference for Trump is rooted in sound judgment.
It might well be that most Russians like Trump more than HRC and would still like him without the propaganda. If I understand correctly, most Russians – regardless of political views – mistrust and despise self-professed champions of ethics and would rather deal with honest cynics. Naturally, Trump comes across as a pravdorub, a man who tells it like it is and doesn’t preach and lecture. (Plus, his anti-immigrant stance resonates with the Russian masses.) In contrast, the average Russian pair of eyes perceive Secretary Clinton as a hypocritical old woman who has spent her life scrambling for the presidency – first for her husband, now for herself. She even tolerated her husband’s multiple affairs to keep him afloat as a politician, an unacceptable duplicity.
But whether most Russians trust Trump or not would have nothing to do with the actual stance of a hypothetical Trump administration on the global issues that matter to both countries.