RYSSLAND | Ingen kan längre låtsas vara okunniga om Kremls propagandakrig mot väst. Nästan all media har vid det här laget rapporterat om det.
Först ett utdrag från ”From cold war to hot war” där The Economist beskriver Vladimir Putins ”hybrid-war strategy”.
Destabilisation is also being achieved in less military ways. Wielding power or gaining influence abroad—through antiestablishment political parties, disgruntled minority groups, media outlets, environmental activists, supporters in business, propagandist “think-tanks”, and others—has become part of the Kremlin’s hybrid-war strategy. This perversion of “soft power” is seen by Moscow as a vital complement to military engagement.
Abroad, the main conduit for the Kremlin’s world view is RT, a TV channel set up in 2005 to promote a positive view of Russia that now focuses on making the West look bad. It uses Western voices: far-left anti-globalists, far-right nationalists and disillusioned individuals. It broadcasts in English, Arabic and Spanish and is planning German- and French-language channels. It claims to reach 700m people worldwide and 2.7m hotel rooms. Though it is not a complete farce, it has broadcast a string of false stories, such as one speculating that America was behind the Ebola epidemic in west Africa.
The Kremlin is also a sophisticated user of the internet and social media. It employs hundreds of “trolls” to garrison the comment sections and Twitter feeds of the West. The point is not so much to promote the Kremlin’s views, but to denigrate opposition figures, and foreign governments and institutions, and to sow fear and confusion. Vast sums have been thrown at public-relations and lobbying firms to improve Russia’s image abroad—among them Ketchum, based in New York, which helped place an op-ed by Mr Putin in the New York Times. And it can rely on some of its corporate partners to lobby against policies that would hurt Russian business.
The West’s willingness to shelter Russian money, some of it gained corruptly, demoralises the Russian opposition while making the West more dependent on the Kremlin. Russian money has had a poisonous effect closer to home, too. Russia wields soft power in the Baltics partly through its “compatriots policy”, which entails financial support for Russian-speaking minorities abroad.
Mr Putin’s most devious strategy, however, is to destabilise the EU through fringe political parties (see article). Russia’s approach to ideology is fluid: it supports both far-left and far-right groups. As Peter Pomerantsev and Michael Weiss put it in “The menace of unreality”, a paper on Russian soft power: “The aim is to exacerbate divides [in the West] and create an echo-chamber of Kremlin support.”
I The Spectator skriver Anne Applebaum om ”Putin’s grand strategy”som inkluderar att manipulera val och finansiera politiska partier i Europa.
We’ve spent the past decade arguing about Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, almost anything but Russia. Meanwhile, Russia has been pursuing a grand strategy designed to delegitimise Nato, undermine the EU, split the western alliance and, above all, reverse the transitions of the 1990s.
Much of the time, they are pushing on an open door. The Kremlin doesn’t invent anti-European or anti-establishment ideas, it simply supports them in whatever form they exist, customising their tactics to suit each country. They’ll support the far left or the far right — in Greece they support both. Despite its economic plight, the new Greek government’s first act was not a protest against European economic policy but a protest against sanctions on Russia. Only then did it tell its European creditors that it might not pay them back.
If need be, Russia will court select members of the political and financial establishment too. In Britain, Russia has friends in the City, but also sponsors RT, the propaganda channel which features George Galloway and other titans of the loony left. In France, Russia keeps in close touch with industrialists, but a Russian-Czech bank has loaned Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front €9 million, with another €30 million said to be on the way.
A little bit of money goes a long way in Czech politics too. The election campaign of the current president, Milos Zeman, was openly financed in 2013 by Lukoil, the Russian energy company. Since then President Zeman — who doesn’t, fortunately, control the government — has argued vociferously against Russian sanctions, dismissed the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a ‘bout of flu’ and invited western-sanctioned Russian oligarchs to Prague. Nor is he alone. In Prague, I was invited to debate a close associate of Vaclav Klaus, Zeman’s predecessor, who complained at length about the pernicious influence of Germany and the EU. I asked him whether German companies had ever paid for Czech presidential election campaigns, as Lukoil does. He couldn’t answer.
Tidskriftsomslag: The Economist den 14-20 februari 2015. The Spectator den 21 februari 2015.