Wednesday, 17 December 2014 15:49

Study finds Russia using soft-power to destabilize the Baltics

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Study finds Russia using soft-power to destabilize the Baltics http://www.foi.se/Documents/FOI-R--3990--SE_reducerad.pdf

The recent Russian military aggression against Ukraine has caused substantial concern not only in the Baltic states, but in other EU and NATO countries as well. One source of concern comes not from traditional military threats as such, but instead from a much talked-about but less well-known phenomenon –Russian non-military influence and “soft power” in the Baltic states.

The Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI)  has just released its report  on this issue, stating that Russian actors – financed or directly governed by the Russian federation itself – are engaged in the implementation of a strategy of soft power and non-military influence in all the three Baltic states, and actively try to wield this kind of power in a number of areas.

The report also says that all three Baltic states also see themselves as the target of Russian strategies devised by ideologues and implemented by activists and establishment figures – with the full backing of the Kremlin.

According to the study, these strategies apparently aim not only to promote the Russian-speaking minorities in the Baltic states but also to undermine the Baltic states as political entities, as well as the self-confidence of their non-Russian populations and confidence in the ability of the EU and NATO to assist the Baltic states in the event of an external crisis.

Some other findings:

-- Russia’s strategy involves substantial interference in the domestic political systems of the Baltic states.

-- All the Baltic states have been the target of Russian accusations regarding their allegedly “fascist” past and present attachment to “fascism”.

-- Russian media companies and their broadcasting services work essentially in tandem with the Russian political authorities.

The study also notes that in Lithuania, the complex domestic minority situation seems to have been used  by Russian actors not only to divide the Polish minority from the Lithuanian  majority, but also to generate divisions between Poland and Lithuania.

The study concludes:

Taken as a whole, the entire Russian strategy toward the Baltic states in this regard amounts to using soft power and non-military means of influence as tools of destabilization.

Click here to read the full study.

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