Despite ordering an "influence campaign" to help Donald Trump in last year's election, the Kremlin is scrambling to respond to a win it didn't expect, New Yorker editor David Remnick and staff writer Evan Osnos tell Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Remnick, who lived and worked in Moscow from 1988 to 1992, and Osnos say Trump's victory has created unintended consequences for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"This was like a bank heist that, instead of blowing the doors off the safe, they blew the safe up entirely," Osnos says.

Remnick adds that Russia's state-controlled media, which was full of praise for Trump during the campaign, has changed its outlook of late: "We've now had a month of chaos, and they've decided to take much more of a wait-and-see attitude."

Osnos and Remnick collaborated with contributor Joshua Yaffa to report on Trump, Putin and the "new Cold War" for the current issue of The New Yorker. The title of their article, "Active Measures," is a reference to the type of intelligence operation in which the goal is to take active measures to influence events and undermine a rival power.

Interview Highlights

On why the White House's response to the DNC hacking was "muted"

Osnos: There was a robust, a really intense debate going on within the White House and the national security community about what the best response would be. In September the Obama White House went to Mitch McConnell and said, "Look, we believe that the Russians were involved and that they may be threatening the integrity of the vote," and they said, "We want to issue a bipartisan statement that would encourage state voting authorities to keep an extra eye on the security and integrity of the vote." Basically a bipartisan gesture, and Mitch McConnell, this is now public, he has said that he would regard that as a partisan gesture.

That was one of the reasons ... why the Obama White House was reluctant to go too far in being very public about this. There are people in Hillary Clinton's camp who, one of whom was quoted in our article, saying, "We look back and wonder why this was not" — in the words of this person — "a five-alarm fire in the White House."

Go to link