Putin; like previous Russian strongman leaders - is trying to reshape the geo-political map.  Unlike his predecessors, he is winning. I don't claim to be an expert in Russian politics - but I do know communications strategy - and I see a master at work. 

If the 'International Research Agency,' indicted by the US special counsel was a political communications agency, and their mission wasn't what it clearly is - this would be a Cannes Lions Grand Prix winning campaign.

The range of their approaches, their flexibility and multi-channel execution, their reliance on the use of data - great artwork, deep insight into the psyche of their audience - and clear measurable objectives. It's really a masterpiece of political communications work - with one simple straightforward aim: undermine the ability of Russia's enemies to mount a coordinated response against her.

Check the timeline - Russia started this work soon after Obama sanctioned them for invading Ukraine. 

I don't know if Trump was a paid shill - I doubt it, personally, but who knows? Perhaps people in his team were feeding information to the Russians - maybe we will find out - maybe we won't.

The real story here is that we have a highly porous information architecture that can be manipulated by anyone with some cash and talent. 

For a foreign power to have massive influence in our political debates - Trump, Brexit, Italy's anti-European party, the racist AfD in Germany - Russia doesn't need to have people 'in her pocket' they just need to amplify the voice of the angry outsiders - at the expense of the centre-ground. 

It is well known that modern media is a rage machine - rage gets eyeballs, and eyeballs sell ads. 

There needs to be a quite significant change to the general information architecture if we want our communications channels to serve our civil societies.

To my mind - this chap has his finger on an important issue - and is well worth paying attention to: http://www.tristanharris.com/