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Departures Podcast with Luke Harding

With assassinations taking place on foreign soil, widespread hacking and disinformation campaigns aimed at undermining democratic elections, and provocations of armed conflict across multiple theaters, Russia’s role in the post-Cold War international system under President Vladimir Putin has been that of a disrupter. But they’ve likely never had a more powerful weapon at their disposal than the current president of the United States, Donald Trump.

Luke Harding, an author and journalist who served for years as the Guardian’s correspondent in Moscow, has recently published a fascinating new book examining the crucial developments that led us to our current problems with Russia, entitled “Shadow State: Murder, Mayhem and Russia’s Remaking of the West.”

In this interview on our podcast, Harding discusses some of the book’s heroes and anti-heroes, with a special focus on the deeply peculiar relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin dating back to the infamous summit in Helsinki.

“It was that notorious meeting where Trump stood next to Putin and said, ‘I don’t believe that Vladimir interfered; he’s given me his word,'” Harding says. “And I think that this was possibly the worst moment of his presidency, where even people who had previously been willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, realized that he is profoundly compromised, and for whatever reason, he’s doing Moscow’s bidding.”