“I suspect that, for our people [at the top], Sanders looks like the mad professor from ‘Back to the Future,’” says Russian political scientist Ekaterina Schulmann, who teaches future government workers at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, in Moscow. “Which is why he’s very convenient for starting a pan-American brawl. Let them all fight each other while we lay another gas pipeline somewhere!”

And this, according to everyone I asked, is the central goal.

“The ideal scenario is to maintain the schism and uncertainty in the States till the end,” says Pavolvovsky. “Our candidate is chaos.”

“Russian active measures thrive on chaos, and this is what a second Trump term delivers,” says Polymeropoulos. “America is at war with itself politically for another four years. Advantage: Russia. Second, while it’s true that the Trump administration has at times been very tough on Russia with respect to sanctions, strategically, under the Trump administration, Russians have regained a foothold in the Middle East, NATO is weakened by a more disengaged America, and Trump’s disdain for Ukraine is a huge boon for Russia.”