Russia’s strategy for influence through public diplomacy and active measures: the Swedish case
Russia, as many contemporary states, takes public diplomacy seriously. Since the inception of its English language TV network Russia Today in 2005 (now ‘RT’), the Russian government has broadened its operations to include Sputnik news websites in several languages and social media activities. Moscow, however, has also been accused of engaging in covert influence activities – behaviour historically referred to as ‘active measures’ in the Soviet KGB lexicon on political warfare. In this paper, we provide empirical evidence on how Russia since 2014 has moved towards a preference for active measures towards Sweden, a small country in a geopolitically important European region. We analyse the blurring of boundaries between public diplomacy and active measures; document phenomena such as forgeries, disinformation, military threats and agents of influence and define Russian foreign policy strategy. In summary, we conclude that the overarching goal of Russian policy towards Sweden and the wider Baltic Sea is to preserve the geostrategic status quo, which is identified with a security order minimising NATO presence in the region.