tv CSIS Discussion on Russian Influence in the U.K. Europe CSPAN July 21, 2020 7:10pm-8:01pm EDT
demand at c-span.org or listen on the go with the free c-span radio app. announcer: next, a discussion on russia's influence on the u.k. and europe featuring british ambassador to the u.s. karen pierce. she explores current relations with russia and efforts to counter russian influence across europe. the guardian's foreign correspondent also took part in the discussion. online event.csis today we are going to be talking about russian influence in the united kingdom. this conversation is actually part of a broader report that csis just produced that looks at russian ander chinese influence. so last thursday, we held a conversation with former australian prime minister malcolm turnbull that looked at chinese influence in australia. part of the report examined
japan and australia and how chinese influence works there. today's conversation is to look at how russian influence works in the united kingdom. as part of that broader work, we also looked at germany. the reason that malcolm turnbull was so important is because we used his framing of influence activities. we looked at covert, coercive, and corrupting influence factors. many reports have certainly examined the supply of influence activities, but very few look at the demand-side, how democracies use and accept these influence activities. so our report focused much more on the demand, how do democratic
governments and societies internalize that influence activities. this report was made possible by the state department's global engagement center through the information access fund. we're grateful of course for the support but these are the authors and not of the state department views. if i may, let me briefly go over some of the key findings from this report. russia and china certainly have different objectives in how they use their influence activities, but they share one commonality. they both try to divide the united states from its most important allies, and certainly the united kingdom is america's most essential, or one of the most essential allies. they do this by using their influence activities to look at how democracies, how they divide societies. we looked at societal cohesion. we looked at the use of diaspora committee, will get the economic interconnectedness. that was a big key. how does money corrupt or capture elite? and then of course we looked at the media, how social media was interacting and regulating the types of influence activities that russia was perpetuating
within the united kingdom. the scope of this report fell outside the coronavirus pandemic, but of course, near the end of our reporting we saw a more disturbing trend. that was china emulating russia's tactics. whereas russia tries to defy society and basically degrade democracy and degrade democratic institution, china attempts to suppress any criticism of china but all of a sudden we're starting to see china take on the appearances of more russian influence activities. so those are the overriding key findings of the report. we invite you to take a look at that final report. so, now let's dive deep into the u.k. we could not have put together a more fantastic group of colleagues to speak about russian influence activities in the united kingdom. let me first introduced dame karen pierce, british ambassador
to the united kingdom. she arrived earlier in the spring and, of course, we went into lockdown but we welcome you to washington, ambassador pierce, formerly british ambassador to the united nations and former u.k. special representative to afghanistan. we also have with us luke harding, is senior international correspondent for the guardian and author of a new book entitled "shadow state: murder, mayhem, and russia's remaking of the west." it is now out and we thank luke for joining us from london. and then of course we have our very own rachel ellehuus, deputy director of the europe program at csis, and senior fellow, and author of the u.k. chapter for this report, and no one is better at helping moderate this conversation. they say timing is everything, and i believe this conversation
couldn't be more well-timed because we are told tomorrow, the intelligence and security committee, committee of the u.k. parliament, will be releasing its much-anticipated report on russian interference in the u.k., and perhaps we can use this conversation as a good framing for when that report is released tomorrow. so with that, thank you to our colleagues. please read the report. again, i am heather conley from csis, and we're grateful you are here. rachel, over to you. rachel: thank you, heather. i will just offer some brief remarks about what we saw in the u.k. case study and then turn it over to ambassador pierce before we go into discussion. when we looked at the u.k. case study we saw two russian objectives in particular.
the first was to weaken the u.k. internally. so this was magnified in things like accentuating existing divisions between leave and remain, rural and urban divides, even those in scotland who preferred to separate from the united kingdom rather than remain. the first was to weaken the u.k. internally. the second was the related objectives, and that was to diminish the uk's place in the world. so, the influence activities that fell in this bucket were related to nato, the european union, and the relationship with the united states. clearly russia recognized that the u.k. is made even stronger by its membership in nato and until recently the european union, and its uniquely close relationship with the united states. so those were targets of influence activities as well. but what we found in looking in the study was it wasn't so much the objective or tactic in either the russia or china case that made the real difference in terms of influence and impact. rather, it was what happened on the receiving end.
how resilient was the society, or the country that was on the receiving end of these tactics and objectives? in many ways, the u.k. was very resilient. the government is accountable, it's highly transparent. there's a good balance among the different branches of government. your media landscape is very resilient. i was impressed to see that 50% of u.k. citizens are getting the majority of their news from the bbc. and the diaspora community, which can often be a vulnerability, was relatively well integrated and well-off, and did a present as a vulnerability in the u.k. case. however, we did find two vulnerabilities that were particular to the u.k. case and i hope we can dive into that. the first was the regulatory gap. in particular, the campaign-finance law created some loopholes that possibly lead to more foreign money come into the campaign.
of course we've got no proof of that, but that is essentially where some of the trails lead us. the u.k. also has a very interesting structure with the crown dependencies and some of the overseas territories. but even when these regulatory gaps were fixed in the u.k. proper, they manifested themselves and the legislation was implemented later in those two incidences. the second vulnerability were societal vulnerabilities, which i alluded to in the beginning. a polarization, whether it is political or ideological that we see across the united states and europe but certainly those with the two that jumped at the u.k. case, and smartly i think in the u.k. response, they tried to address those vulnerabilities through changes in the campaign-finance law, for example. through efforts to increase media literacy, or the ability to identify disinformation and
misinformation. so while i think we are on a very positive track, certainly the tactics continue to change, and so the response has to evolve. and with that, i think i would like to turn the floor over to ambassador pierce to give us your impressions of essentially when did the u.k. become a target of russia? why did they become a target of russia? and what are you generally seeing both with regard to influence activities in the u.k. as well as the u.k.'s experience watching influence activities overseas? thank you, ambassador pierce. great. thank you very much, heather. thank you, rachel, and thank you for inviting me to join the study interesting discussion. i think the first thing to say is that u.k. and russian action of a very long history. we've had very good relations.
one goes back over 300 years, peter the great, and that was a stage of the relationship, that for those times, was very productive. we admire the russian people, and we recognize the enormous sacrifices that the russian people made in the second world war. and we appreciate the fact that that second world war was won with soviet assistance and the soviet union was an ally at that time. we have always made it clear that we want a productive, loadbearing relationship with the russian government, including the current russian government. and i went with boris johnson when he was foreign secretary to moscow to deliver that last message, which seemed at the time to be appreciated by our russian host.
however, three months after that saw the giu poisoning in salisbury, and eventually led to more than 150 russian diplomats being expelled across europe and the united states by the u.k. and its partners. so i think that the fundamental question has to be, why does russia reject these overtures that countries like the u.k., but there are others, make in terms of a loadbearing relationship? we are never going to always agree with russia. we are often not going to agree on a huge number of subjects, but we are both permanent members at the security council and we do have certain interests in global stability. and that ought to be a good
foundation for some productive, even if difficult, conversations. but we don't see russia behaving as a permanent member. we see russia doing all the things you just described, and more, in georgia and other countries besides the u.k. and we also see it condoning, if not a betting, -- not abbetting, the use of chemical weapons in syria. chemical weapons are a universal comes universally precipitate weapon. so why does a permanent member want to allow one of its client states to use such an awful weapon? and i think the russia of the cold war, if you like, the soviet union of the cold war, would have seen that as crossing a line in terms of stability.
so i think this comes, rachel, to your question of how long this has been going on, and i'm not a historian. i haven't looked into it in detail, but i think anecdotally, all these things we're seeing is synonymous with the rise of president putin. and there's something important in that i think. there's something about this mantra that the russians have about the end of the west. you know, they are out to show that western values don't count anymore, the russian approach to trade doesn't count anymore, the western approach to international treaties and international norms and standards doesn't count anymore. and they're putting a lot of effort into them undermining all of that, if and as you say, we come to the united kingdom and all the things that you described. we try in the united kingdom to be real resilient -- to be
resilient against those attacks. we set up a number of programs like suspending democracy and countering disinformation to make us more resilient and use all the parts of british institutions. but as you also say, some of these arguments by the russians, we all know how they affect opinion polls. i come back to my first point, why does russia want to behave like this? why not just have a more productive relationship with the west? the west is no threat to russia. so why not take a different euro-atlantic route, as in the late 1990's it seemed possible that russia might do. so i think that's an important question which we should keep confronting russian representatives with. i think the second point of russia-china links, i think these are very interesting and intriguing.
i doubt very much it's a partnership of two equals. but at the same time, i do wonder if the russians are more manipulative with the chinese than perhaps the chinese realize. i think the whole disinformation thing where as you say we've seen the chinese copying russian practices of disinformation, increasing vis-a-vis u.k. policy. i think that's an interesting area to explore. i will stop there, so you can ask questions or move on to luke, but very happy to elaborate on any of that. ms. ellehuus: thank you. i think that's very insightful about your analysis that russia feels that it has more to gain from being disruptive than from engaging and trying to think about why that might be the case. certainly there are certain rules and norms that inviable,
but i think beyond that, that there is scope for thinking about how we change that calculus. russia is not alone in that. a number of other countries, heather and i just looked closely at turkey, and turkey is making the same calculation in its region that it has more to gain from acting unilaterally or pushing its agenda rather than engaging with eu and nato partners for a more collective end state. so i think that's a very sharp observation. before turn over to luke, maybe just one more question to keep the flow going. russia really has doubled down on these efforts that fall below the threshold of armed conflict. i mean we have looked at the brexit referendum, the scottish independence referendum, and possibly even the u.k. elections. when you observe these in retrospect, do you really think that these efforts have that impact? we struggled with this in the study very much. we could see influence, but we really couldn't necessarily say because there was this point of influence or involvement, it led to this outcome.
in your experience, maybe even looking at the u.k.'s engagement in central europe, do you think these efforts have impact? dame pierce: oh, i think that's a really good question. as you say, it is quite hard to measure, and it may be we are all too close to it to know of its impact. if one wanted to look at impact, the east europeans have more experience of the russian government, if you like, than anyone else. and they certainly worry about the cumulative effects as well as individual decisions. so there may be something quite important in russian attempts to destabilize over time, that we can't quite discern yet. i do think it was well said of the russian government that they took the saber in until they hit steel.
i always thought in the u.n. that the russians have good chess players, at least two strategies for any given venture. one, if you like, is incremental, and the other is much more dynamic. and they will pursue either of those depending on circumstances. they're very adept at jumping from circumstance to circumstance, and advancing their agenda as fast as those circumstances allow. and i think the consequence of that or the implication of that -- they have to hit that steel with the saber early on. i think that's where sometimes collectively, the west is not always as forceful with russia as we might be. and i do think a bigger conversation about russian tactics in this regard would be helpful.
are to i think if we learn from the russian strategy, we end up with the risk that we inadvertently let something happen. that definitely was conversation. in many ways i would like to these conversations, because that's where collective security reside. but on the whole, i think the british public is pretty resilient. where as you say, people get their news from independent, objective but well renowned outlets like the bbc and the national press. there's a healthy skepticism, i think, in the british public, which is useful on these occasions. and i think the russian message is so obviously undemocratic, that it goes against a lot of traditions, so people again are
skeptical. i think it interesting going back to the first point, the russians obviously can't get their message across by democratic means. they ought to tell them something, they are irrational, clever people. but in terms of actual impact vs. influence, i come back to the point i think we're just a bit too close to it to know if that would be the case. ms. ellehuus: thank you. ake, you have looked at lot of these issues of impact and vulnerabilities of what makes an influence activity more or less successful, in quotes, if you will. what, in your experience, should we be studying? how can we reduce the likelihood that we'll see these influence activities occurring in the future, and if they do, how do we go about making sure that the impact or influence is reduced?
luke: thank you. thank you, rachel. congratulations on a terrific report. it's been a pleasure to read and very timely. just listening to the ambassador, i was put in might of a conversation i had with a british diplomat soon after i got kicked out of moscow for years in 2011. it was a pretty discouraging experience which followed break-ins by the secret police of our apartment and a series of harassment. the diplomat said to me that the problem with the russians is they don't think the way we think they should think. and that money goes to the heart of it, to your question. putin, in my view, ultimately, unfortunately, is not interested in mutually beneficial solutions. he is a classic zero-sum guy who
rather have kind of lose-lose than win-win. in addition to that he really sees the world, he sees geopolitics, he sees international alliances through a kgb prism. even though the soviet union is gone and communism is gone, he's is thinking almost genetically is very kgb. in this kind of worldview which is paranoid, conspiratorial, sees russia as a besieged fortress surrounded by nato and other hostile enemies, the united states is the main adversary. and the u.k. is a kind of lesser main adversary, kind of band together. and i think what putin has done with some success in recent years is to take this old soviet playbook of disruption, of undermining the enemy, of taking advantage of weaknesses in western society, and he's sort of shined it up for our age of facebook and twitter and social
media. and i think it is important that we do not exaggerate how omnipotent vladimir putin is. he isn't. he's not a villain sitting in a cave pressing buttons and making things happen in d.c. or in london or in berlin or whatever. what i would argue is that he is kgb adventurist and opportunist. sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. the problem is his two most successful operations i would say first took place in 2016 and they were both related. one was the push by russian spy to help donald trump win the white house.
and the other was to launch a comparable multifaceted operation to support the leave campaign in the 2016 eu referendum and disintegrate the scottish independence referendum as well. so it's very hard to say. i wouldn't argue that putin caused these results. there were numerous other factors. but the point is we have a very narrowly contested result. sort of a 50-50 scenario. you have a troll operation by social media bots. you have sort of russian intelligence offices based in london running around with senior figures in the leave campaign. you also have the unanswered question of financing. all sides denied wrongdoing, but there is a genuine question raised by british mp's and others about the funding of the leave campaign. it was a pretty potent combination. i would just say one other thing, which is my frustration
as an investigative journalist is, i mean, the ambassador is right, it is perhaps too early to tell how much influence there has been. but in britain at least we have not had a kind of proper reckoning. we haven't had a full interrogation of what happened in 2016. we're expecting with great curiosity this russian report tomorrow from the security committee, but to be honest, but the way i see it is to see this been kind of denialism from a lot of politicians, but particularly the current government, which really brexit is their project and they are pretty reluctant to recognize russians did anything around brexit, even to say if it is small and unimportant. i would just say lastly, the thing about putin's influence operations, whether it is hackers or trolls or whatever, is he's an equal opportunity meddler.
the vector in communist times was -- now his preferred partner on the european stage is the far right. eurosceptic forces. putin hates the european union, which is why he welcomes brexit. if you're a politician of whatever stripe, you have to acknowledge what may benefit you today may hinder you tomorrow. so it's everybody's problem and we all need to address it. ms. ellehuus: thank you, luke. i think that's an important point you made when. you look at the germany case, certainly one of the parties that the russians were courting -- and what they were essentially trying to do is to play on those margins to gain influence it but in the case at least the problem was, there may have been influenced but the people they tried to influence didn't hold seats in parliament so it never really carried over. so it's important to follow
those chains of influence and logic. i also appreciate your point about not thinking that russia is under every rock. because certainly one of the objectives of influence activities is to undermine or paint as uncredible our media and our judiciary. so in many ways i'm hopeful the report was shine a light on what is or is not russian influence activities. if i may ask a question to the ambassador briefly, you made an important point about the importance, the fact that russia pushes until it hits steel and then it backs off. in your experience, have we seen examples in the u.k. where there's been a response that has been forceful enough to make russia think twice? and how can we leverage those best practices in the future if we do see another incident?
dame pierce: that's a tricky question to answer on, in an open environment. not least because it might alert the russians to the way we go about these things. but let me try and answer. so, i think they were surprised by the strength of the response. not just from u.k., but also from other countries. as i say, over 150 russian diplomats were expelled across a number of countries. sanctions were put on russia, the u.s. in particular increased its sanctions. and i don't think the russians expected the hardline they got in the u.n. security council. of course i was involved in that. and they didn't expect to be exposed for stealing the data later.
that is something we and the dutch uncovered. and they didn't expect to lose the subsequent in the chemical weapons organization about future investigations. that is called opcw. so i think all of those have caused a little bit of retreat. it is only buying time, i think. they are very good at regrouping, as luke was explaining, and using lots of different tools. as you know, we just announced we believe russian actors, that doesn't mean the russian state, were involved in the last general election campaign. we believe they are responsible for leaking the papers on the free trade agreements with the united states, and we have attributed to the russian intelligence services the work they were doing to try and steal vaccine information.
so i'm hoping that all of those will have set them back. i fear, but this is speculation, that they will divert their attention to other countries whose internal systems might not quite be so robust. it was said of the russian intelligence services that they would rather steal the weather report of the newscasts instead of wait two minutes before it's broadcast to the world. so there is something about the importance of secret, but hopefully all these things in -- hopefully that provide some counter to their ability to have any successes. ms. ellehuus: thank you, ambassador. luke, do you want to pick up on
that? because as an investigative journalist, i'm sure you have been in an astute observer of what works in terms of pushback, but also in terms of anticipation. i think going forward that that is something the u.k. government has tried to be better at, is anticipating what the next event may be. but could you share observations with as? mr. harding: yeah. no, it's faceting. it's interesting. i think london is uniquely placed to do something about russian behavior. the reason, there's tremendous amounts of elites, moscow money which is hidden in the u.k. or incorporated through british companies or stuffing crown dependency or the virgin islands and so on. as you think about maligned russian behavior, it's too easy to fall into the trap that these are kind of far away baddies of whom we know not so much. when actually the problem is on
our doorstep, and i think this is one of the more contentious aspects of the russia report, which is some of the evidence which was submitted by a well-known american-british financier. he complained to this committee about what he called a western buffer network. by that he meant very rich russians, quite often with kremlin connections who are pr people, real estate people, lawyers, information agents, and are essentially able to steal, to call it how it is, in moscow. and then really kind of launder this money by western financial networks through london and launder their reputations as well. it's been a problem that has affected all governments. it didn't begin last year. it's been going on for some time. and i think this regime, the regime of vladimir putin is uniquely vulnerable in the way
its predecessors were not. if you were a bureaucrat back in the late 1970's, you had an apartment in moscow but a slightly higher should be. you had a chef and a car and you went to the black sea and that's it. people around putin are all noddy billionaires. they have yachts, wine collections in switzerland. their kids are studying in london. while i would personally welcome what the british foreign secretary did last week with the magnitsky list with the city human rights abusers falling on the example of u.s. congress. but i think you go much further. we need to recognize that russian influence isn't necessarily done by generals wearing military uniforms. it's it's a done via rather charming people who speak fluent english, not oligarchs, businessman who read the same levels that you when i read. it's deceptive.
but the goal is the same. and so i think london could do an awful lot more. lastly, i would say i worked on a lot of quite important investigations with new times with other international partners. i did the panama papers. we found so many people in putin's circle who had offshore structures. they were helped by british professionals to set them up. and if we are serious about deterring rogue kremlin behavior, then conventional diplomatic response isn't necessarily the answer. it's a good first step. but the thing they really care about despite their hyper patriotism at home and talk about crimea and all the rest of it is their offshore bank account. once you target those that is a steel ambassador pierce is talking about. ms. ellehuus: that is a
wonderful response. heather and colleagues did look at a comprehensive report. the second version look specifically at enablers. countries that enabled russian money, however was achieved to go into real estate purchases, companies that were incorporated under shell ownership arrangements. so certainly that exists not only in the u.k., but across europe. --m reassured that the on .hat the u.k. is onto this, so the question is, how did you come by all these chalets and houses across the world? so i think the u.k. is going on the right track. madam ambassador, did you want to respond to that? then i think we'll turn to questions from the audience, because we have quite a few. dame pierce: thank you, rachel. just quickly. i think luke is absolutely right. we've done a number of things.
we switched the burden of proof in the annexing, so people have to explain how they got the money. we have got these human rights sanctions that also allow for, travel bans. it's much harder now to launder money through things like property, precious stones. we've got a special economic crime center within our national crime agency, which looks at things like this. we are trying to do more on transparency of overseas ownership. and we have helped overseas territories to get their registered and legislation in order. it's a huge task for the reasons luke was explaining but we are trying very much to get on top of that and share good practice with other countries. i think it is also a case of we can't let up on doing any of this. ms. ellehuus: thank you.
i think that highlights that we are at the beginning and we've a lot of good initiatives but quite a lot to go. turning to some questions from the audience. i'm trying to group them as we talk into different categories, and there is a lot of interest in what the u.k. and other democracies can do to help spread -- stop the spread of russian influence in the ukraine, and there are a couple of questions asking specific about influence in montenegro and north macedonia. in your experience, ambassador, are there things u.k. has done or should continue doing to curtail that influence? and then luke, maybe if you look at this from a european angle, are the things the european union could be doing to address this influence in third countries? i'm very concerned about this idea of a backdoor, that if you meet resistance in the u.k. or germany, you just try another
nato ally or eu member state. over to your ambassador, and luke, pick up quickly from there. dame pierce: great, thanks. yes, i think the russians are researching in the balkans, notably in surrey. iny tried a coup montenegro which failed. they tried messing in macedonia. that failed and that's all good. using both eu and nato moved to office countries more resilient, including through expanding their own programs for membership for them. serbia i think, because of its history and its links to the soviet union is generally quite ambivalent about russia versus the west. this is a massive generalization, but in general terms. that's because of the fragility state in so many ways that we are familiar with. but how do we counter it?
i think we've got to keep strengthening eu and nato and osce ties with those countries. we've got to help them be very transparent in their own legislation and the ways they tackle the money laundering and the interference. that means, i think, giving them more military training, more security training, more economic training. and probably more governance support so that they find it easier to resist some of the pernicious things that the russians do. i think it also means calling it out when we see it. if you remember the failed russian coup in montenegro got a lot of publicity. and i think that is probably an important deterrence. and then i think there is something about sharing best practices and making sure we all come together to talk about these issues behind closed doors
so that we can map out what sorts of measures might help countries be more resilient. and then i would like to add talking to the russians themselves about this, but they are very hard to have conversations with at the moment. i mean, yeah, i would just add to make quick points. one is the playbook, whether it's in montenegro or bosnia or whatever, tends to be the same in terms of russian ingress into countries. one route in is to buy outlets. quite often that involves newspapers and you flip them, to buy strategic industries which are in trouble and then you try and make inroads into the political class. that's been happening all over the place. and so i think inward investment, we need to be a little cautious of sometimes. i would also just echo the ambassador's point about the
gru. it is a very secretive organization behind the poisoning. it existed in the shadows, or at least it did. it's been stunned by recent revelations and whatever reporting by the open source outfit. but what we know now is pretty distressing. we know since salisbury, there's been an undercover diversity unit based in the french alps traveling all over europe going to the swiss, going to the balkans, going to bulgaria, u.k. for the operation of professional assassins. and the more we can reveal their activities, the greater one would hope that they think twice before doing something like that again. ms. ellehuus: thanks, luke. i've recognize we're coming to the end of our time, but if we can just take one more question and maybe end on an optimistic
note. i put this to both of you. we have noted that right now russia's behavior has more to gain from this disruptive behavior maintaining this zero-sum mentality. but are there certain prerequisites for deconfliction? are there certain steps we could take on either side to start to get the relationship back on a more productive path whereby russia doesn't feel the need to take these covert steps? dame pierce: do you want me to go first, rachel? ms. ellehuus: yes. i should have directed that. dame pierce: apologies to you. you say russia doesn't feel the need to take these covert steps. i think my content will be she doesn't need to take them. there's enough going on in the west, and with all these world leaders that we could get back to a much more constructive path
if the russians wanted to take it. i fear, reinforced by what luke has been saying, that president putin just does not want to take it for the reasons luke gave but i think permanent five membership is a very good forum. i would like to see us all due even more in the five space. i think it's very difficult at the moment and it's not a panaceam but i do think it is a very good forum for discrete discussion of some very serious issues. those issues include nuclear. it's no coincidence that the p5 are the world's permitted nuclear powers under the npt, but it' also enables us to have discussions about fundamental other things going on in the world, syria and libya. and cyber.
i do worry, as i said, that the russians might just not want to come into that discussion, but i think we should be able to discuss things like chemical weapons, and hopefully use that in a sensible way. and then i think it would be nice to think that there would be more people to people exchanges. the number of those that i think at the moment when we are seeing imbeaglean state all these roots in addition to activity i suspect that might be a hard one. but i think global health effort is quite a good issue, as with the chinese, to put scientists and experts in direct touch with each other, so you try to take governments out of the equation. you try and reduce the temptation. and we all have some very serious global health problems to think about in addition to covid.
there are things like antimicrobial resistance. so i think, again, if the russians wanted to come into those discussions, we would be pleased to see them. mr. harding: i would just say very briefly, all say the depressing thing and then the slightly more uplifting thing. the depressing thing i think is that despite the ambassador's optimism which is perfectly kind of reasonable, i don't see putin changing anytime soon. and more than that, we now know following this constitutional referendum that essentially what always looked like to me is a dictatorship has become a dictatorship, and putin will stay in power potentially until 2036, well into his early 80's. i imagine that donald trump and boris johnson may have left the stage by then and putin would be the last man standing, the last person standing. and, therefore, i think where to go back to 1947.
we have to go back to containment, or near containment, where if russians will not be a practical actor on the world stage, then i'm afraid it's going to be pragmatic containment until things improve. i mean, my positive is that we do have to separate this particular regime of 65-year-old or 65, 60 something kgb men who have become very, very rich from the russian people. i mean, russia is a great country with a wonderful theatrical, literary, artistic, intellectual tradition. actually the big victims from all this are not americans or brits. they are the russians themselves. and there are very many young russians who want something different. they want something more clear, more democratic, more modern. and i suspect that day will come.
i mean, putin may wish to rule forever, but he won't and he can't, and at some stage there may be an intensively russian russia, but a more reasonable and productive partner down the road. ms. ellehuus: well, luke and madam ambassador, i think that's a fantastic note to end on, recognizing that we do have difficult times here in monitoring and responding to influence activities, but behind these are real people just trying to live out their daily lives. so it's upon us to be discerning in calling out those influence activities, to be honest about our own vulnerabilities, and to work together to push back when lines are crossed. so, i just wanted to thank you both for your time, and heather, for the opportunity to work on this report.
it's been really fascinating to look not only in the transatlantic space but in asia-pacific and to compare what's going on in those two regions, to come up with some real meaningful lessons i take away from this conversation that we are only at the beginning of that we have a lot of work to do to get better at responding to activities in this space. so with that, thank you both so much for your time. and everybody, please check out our report and let us know what you think. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] presidents, from public affairs, available now in paperback and e-book. presents biographies of every president, organized by the by notable historians perspectives into the lives of our nation's chief executives and leadership
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