Greg Afinogenov at n+1:
Beyond the question of evidence lies the much more interesting question of what Putin was hoping to accomplish by interfering in US elections. The American public, even the foreign policy-savvy pundit class, has remarkably short memories. Putin can trace his enmity to the Clintons as far back as the 1990s, when the US intervention in Kosovo under the leadership of sometime centrist Democratic presidential hopeful General Wesley Clark nearly sparked a shooting war with Russia. (It was prevented at the last minute, bizarrely, by schlocky pop singer James Blunt, then a captain in the British army.) More proximate causes of enmity lie in Hillary Clinton’s policies as Secretary of State, which added insult to injury by kicking off with a purely cosmetic “reset.” These included US support—real or imagined—for a series of election protests in Russia in 2011, but especially the US intervention in Libya. Russia had abstained from a UN resolution ordering a no-fly zone there, but saw its trust, as Putin sees it, immediately betrayed when the no-fly zone turned into a full-fledged regime change operation.
So why choose this particular tactic to destroy, or at least damage, Hillary? Simply put, Putin (if his media is any guide) believes that the US has already tried to influence Russian elections through leaks. While most Americans have already forgotten about them, the Panama Papers were timed deliberately or accidentally to coincide with Russian parliamentary elections this year. In Russia they are widely seen as having been released by US intelligence to target Putin specifically, because of the $2 billion they revealed to be in the offshore account of a close friend. The hacking operation that targeted the DNC succeeded only two months after the Panama Papers were released. These dots are easy to connect.