Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is fostering division in America by backing extremist right-wing groups.
Kristofer Harrison, a Russia expert who served in the George W. Bush administration, explained the dynamic in a new piece published by The Bulwark.
"A couple weeks ago Senator Ted Cruz was speaking at Texas A&M University when someone asked him his thoughts on the Texas secessionist movement. He replied that he wasn’t 'there, yet.' It is important to understand that the modern secession movement is not a product of Lone Star pride. It’s an idea that has been force fed into the American conservative movement by Russia," he explained. "The shiny ball that caught Cruz’s attention was The Texas Nationalist Movement (TNM). TNM is Texas’s most prominent secessionist organization. In 2015, TNM attended a St. Petersburg gathering of worldwide extremists organized by Rodina—that’s 'Motherland' in Russian—the fascist-adjacent offshoot of Putin’s United Russia party."
He explained why it was so bizarre to see Cruz duped by "Texit" movement backed by Russia.
"Here, featured on Rodina’s website, is Nate Smith, TNM’s executive director, in attendance. Howdy! Russia’s info warriors were very pleased with his comments at the event. This skulduggery got so bad and Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians who were working with the Texas secessionist movement in 2016 to—please put down your coffee—spread misinformation about Ted Cruz during the presidential primary in order to help Donald Trump," he wrote. "There’s a nice symmetry there. Some day when Hollywood comes calling the film can be titled, 'From Victim to Dupe: The Ted Cruz Story.'"
Harrison noted the Council of Conservative Citizens was also at the conference and that Richard Spencer regularly appeared on the state media channel Russia Today.
"The only way to understand the neo-Nazi mob and the secessionist movement is as Vladimir Putin’s weapons. And Ted Cruz—despite having been on the receiving end of this in 2016—has no problem cozying up to them today," he explained. "Ted Cruz seems to think that the job of a United States senator is to sh*tpost on Twitter and own the libs. But playing at culture war can get people killed. Cruz either does not know, or does not care, that this is exactly what Putin is trying to achieve."
Read the full analysis.
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