We seem to be seeing more traction on the Russia issue. Even The Telegraph is now getting in on it.

Most of the reactions to it are negative. I think there are two main reasons for this:

1. People who voted to leave the EU are mostly nationalistic and resent the suggestion that their side was aided by a generally hostile foreign state. This falls under the “I don’t like this, it can’t be true” umbrella of arguments, which you may recognise from other such topics as Evolution or Climate Change.

2. People misapply Occam’s razor. Occam’s razor roughly says “don’t make things more complex than they need to be”. It’s a fine mantra but its main weakness is people don’t always correctly identify complexity. In this case, it seems superficially obvious that including Russia is increasing the complexity, but this is actually incorrect because Russia’s geopolitical doctrine has always been to undermine America’s global influence and separate the UK from Europe, both of which are achieved by brexit. There are clear strategic reasons for doing so for a country with imperialistic ambitions. The suggestion that Russia would not engage in low risk internet based espionage to undermine the US and the UK actually falls afoul of Occam’s razor, because it implies they’ve completely changed, and provides no explanation as to why. As Willem of Occam would say: your entities have multiplied.

Putin’s highlights reel also includes such hits as Alexander Litvinenko, sending Kremlin backed Russian hooligans to the world cup to stir up trouble with other countries’ (less well trained) fans, engaging in industrial scale athletic doping, and, last but certainly not least, invading Ukraine while simultaneously denying any knowledge of it.

This kind of “Oh but poor little Russia wouldn’t do that, please stop victimising us” is a staple of the Putin era.

The question isn’t whether Russia interfered in the EU referendum, the question is how effective its interference was.


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