Protests and riots in Minneapolis and in other US cities have been going for for days following the killing George Floyd, a black man, by a white police officer. The national guard has been called in to bring the demonstrations under control, while much of the media appears to be siding with the protesters – who are justifiably angry about what appears to be an episode of arbitrary violence and an absolutely unnecessary death. What do Russia and Putin have to do with all this?

Russiagate, or the investigation into Russian meddling in the US election in 2016, has arguably been the big story of the last five years. Even before an investigation on the possible connections between Donald Trump, who sounded disturbingly pro-Russia in his presidential campaign, because he dared to argue that getting along with Russia was better that seeking a conflict with Russia, experts and commentators were already putting out articles and even books about Donald Trump being in fact a Putin’s puppet. These accusations may have died out naturally had Trump lost to Hillary Clinton, like he was expected too by practically everyone who had a respectable opinion of one’s intellect, but the vagaries of the US electoral system gave the presidency to Trump. And so the story did not die out.

Russia had an elaborate plan to destroy Western society from within, to sow distrust in democratic institutions and discordance among Western societies using disinformation, Western audiences have been told, day in day out, for the past four years. By undermining trust in Western institution, Putin had long been planning to damage the reputation of the United States, Europe and Transantlatic unity and it was a painstakingly detailed plan.

The Minneapolis events seem to provide a very tangible demonstration that division in US society is an all too real phenomenon. The easiest and most aggrandizing conclusion one can draw in this case is that some very powerful external actors may be using or even stoking the flames of malcontent. Many acute observers have already pointed a connection that cannot be possible denied. One particular far-sighted activist spoke of a “Russian military assault” on the 2016 US election.

CNN has written that while there is misinformation in Minneapolis, there is little evidence that this might all turn out to be another Russian plot. But rest assured that many other respectable and hypercompetent experts will not fail to connect the dots: expect a profusion of commentaries, interviews and columns about a clear link between Russia and violence on US streets, put out every day by the thousands, soon. This kind of experts have received a powerful ego boost over the last years, thanks to all the attention they were given and are not likely to indulge in the self-destructing habit of doubt. Doubt weakens one’s mind and resoluteness – and is likely to come from Putin as well. In a war, nothing happens by chance, and the easiest explanation may be the best and most intriguing one, the one that helps winning the hearts and minds of the majority.

Stefano Di Lorenzo @StefanoDiLoren5