4 out of 5 stars
This is not going to be a review as such, there is far too much data and information in this book to be able to sum it up and quantify it in any meaningful way. I will say that Belton has done a fantastic job in relentlessly and tirelessly sifting through vast amounts of information to try to track what the Putin regime has been doing since he became President.
Money is the key to the way that the regime works, with the vast sums from the energy supplies fund Putin, his men and their chosen oligarchs. Money flows away from Russia into many offshore banks, through nested companies that have no apparent owners to secret accounts. Making this money legal by laundering it is key and Belton explains clearly the methods that they use to make it legitimate.
The ex KGB men also want to fund organisations and people who deliberately are seeking to undermine Western society and they use the black funds over the world to support the far left and right organisations that are responsible for the rise of populism and some terror attacks. The ex-KGB men that make up the current regime have got everything in a tight grip in Russia too. They control the courts, the banks and the security services and any criticism of Putin is treated very harshly.
The West may have thought that they won the Cold War, but reading this shows that their complacency and greed means that they have fallen for the deception that the regime has played over the long term. Belton details the methods that they have used to undermine particular political individuals and tie them into their way of thinking.
How she did this is beyond me as the entire regime is a nest of Russian dolls in a hall of mirrors and with several smoke machines running full tilt. It is not an easy read for many reasons, but if you have the slightest interest in world politics and the way that it is going, especially in the light of current events in 2022, then you should read this.