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Putin thinks the US is trying to overthrow him

That’s what a new DIA report says.

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum at the China National Convention Center (CNCC) in Beijing, Sunday, May 14, 2017.
Photo by Mark Schiefelbein-Pool/Getty Images

Russia believes the US wants regime change in Moscow; helped spark the Arab Spring; and is responsible for the ouster of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, the wars in Kosovo, Iraq, and Libya, and the revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan.

Those are the major new findings in a new report the Defense Intelligence Agency just released. It has an anodyne title, “Russia Military Power,” but the primary conclusion is sobering: Russian strongman Vladimir Putin believes the US is orchestrating events that go against Russian interests, with the express goal of ensuring he loses power.

This is the first time in two decades the DIA released a report like this to the public. It stopped once the Soviet Union fell in 1991 — and now the report is back. That’s a bad sign, as the Pentagon’s top intelligence agency feels the need to publish a report it used to release during the Cold War.

At least it provides context as to why Moscow is so antagonistic toward the United States and its allies — and how that antagonism is only likely to get worse.

The Kremlin annexed Crimea, a part of Ukraine’s south that Putin saw as historically belonging to Russia. Moscow continues to fight to keep Bashar al-Assad as the leader in Syria. It’s also funded the Taliban in Afghanistan to fight the US-backed government.

Most damagingly, Putin directed a widespread disinformation campaign to interfere in the 2016 election, cause Americans to doubt the integrity of their political process, and help Donald Trump win the White House rather than the more hawkish Hillary Clinton.

In effect, Putin is doing all he can to make Russia great again and keep himself in power. That’s why he’s spent so much time reinvesting in Russia’s military capabilities and trying to counter the US anywhere Moscow is working to secure its own interests.

Moscow’s shadow war with the US might get worse

“Within the next decade, an even more confident and capable Russia could emerge,” DIA Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart wrote in the report’s foreword.

In effect, Russia is rebuilding its military in order to compete on the world stage. That would give Russia greater influence to get what it wants around the world, even if the US and its allies don’t like it.

“Moscow intends to use its military to promote stability on its own terms and to assert its great power status,” the report states.

This report is bad news for anyone who wanted friendlier relations with Russia — especially Trump. If anything, it looks like things are going to worse before they get better. And that means US spies at agencies like the DIA will have a lot to worry about in the years to come.