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As a part of Russian soft (or coercive) power disinformation and propaganda have become key elements in an updated Russian security policy since 2012/13. For Russian leadership disinformation and propaganda have become key instruments to impact domestic debates in EU member states and in the neighbourhood of the EU. This policy aims to weaken cohesion in the EU and its image in the neighbourhood and has become so successful because of the shrinking self-confidence of Western democracies.
This study analyses Russia‘s communication strategy with regard to its influence in Serbia and Estonia.
What are the tools that are used? What are the aims behind disinformation and fake news stories? It shows that a formerly reactive response from a perceived position of weakness has turned into a well-executed communication strategy that makes use of vulnerabilities to sow discord. National elites in the target countries play a key role for the success or failure of this policy.
Juulia Barthel has been communications manager at the Secretary of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum since September 2018. From October 2014 onwards she worked as a Programme Officer in the Robert Bosch Centre. Before working at the DGAP she was part of a research project on “Conflict and Development” (with a focus on Russia and Central Asia) undertaken at the Freie Universität Berlin.
Ruslan Stefanov is the Director of the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), a premier European think-tank in the area of good governance and anti-corruption, based in Sofia, Bulgaria. He is the coordinator of the Southeast European Leadership for Development and Integrity (SELDI.net), the largest regional anticorruption civil society network in the Western Balkans and Turkey. Ruslan Stefanov is project codirector and co-author of the Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe.
Martin Vladimirov is an analyst at the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) in Sofia. His work at the Center focuses on an analysis of the energy security in Europe and on the Balkans, macroeconomic competitiveness, political risk, alternative energy technologies and the stability of financial markets. Previously, he worked as an energy and economic analyst for CEE Market Watch, where he produced short intra-daily analyses of economic and energy issues for Iran and Central Asia.
Stefan Meister is Head of the Robert Bosch Centre for Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP). Previously, he worked as the head of the programme for Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia at the DGAP and as a senior policy fellow in the Wider Europe Team at the European Council on Foreign Relations. His areas of research include Russian domestic, foreign, and energy policy; EU-Russia relations; German-Russian relations, and post-Soviet conflicts particularly in the South Caucasus.