This op-ed was originally published in The American Interest.
With every passing week we have new evidence of the threat that Vladimir Putin’s kleptocracy poses to our democracy, our national security, and the entire liberal world order. Putin’s regime—something akin to an organized crime ring masquerading as a state—has looted the wealth of Russia, subjugated its people, attacked neighboring former republics of the USSR, annexed Crimea, and hacked the electoral process in the United States and other Western democracies.
Ill-gotten Russian wealth—in the tens of billions of dollars—has been pouring into the banking systems and property markets of Europe and the U.S., corrupting and distorting our own institutions. With the eager assistance of British “banks, law firms, accountants, private schools, art galleries, and even Conservative Party fundraisers,”Anne Applebaum recently wrote, the UK has become such a gratifying safe haven for the illicit wealth of Russian oligarchs that they have dubbed the nation’s capital “Londongrad.” Even in the wake of the brazen assassination attempt on British soil of a former Russian intelligence agent with a Soviet-era chemical nerve agent (the latest in a string of suspicious deaths in Britain linked to the Kremlin), the safe haven remains.
Larry Diamond is Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He coordinates the democracy program of the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) within the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI).
This Op-Ed was originally published in The American Interest.