Russia's Influence Activities in CEE

Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea, there has been an alarming volume of evidence of Russian efforts to influence public discussion and policy-making in the Czech Republic and other European states. Indeed, these efforts have been deployed on a scale not seen since the end of the Cold War. The basic aim of these activities is twofold: to influence public opinion; and to manipulate the political and business environment of the targeted country in a direction that is more accommodating to the Kremlin’s foreign policy objectives. Although Russia engages selectively with Western counterparts on a variety of topics and platforms on the most pressing security challenges, it also endeavours to fragment and weaken European unity and challenge the pro-Western, pro-NATO and pro-EU orientation of certain Central and East European countries.

PSSI endeavors to educate audiences on the perilous consequences of underestimating the Kremlin’s ability to penetrate political and business elites, influence policy making and gain control of strategic infrastructure in the region. The range of Russia’s influence activities is broad, with many Russian tactics taking place under the radar without being systematically monitored or analyzed. Accordingly, PSSI has launched several projects and initiatives and organised a number of events to illuminate this under-represented area of security policy.

The overall goal is to raise public awareness about employed tactics, to build better resilience and to develop policy recommendations. In addition, PSSI seeks to facilitate networking and strengthen cooperation and the exchange of best practices between expert communities, academics, policy makers and journalists.

In 2015 PSSI launched an Initiative to raise awareness about pro-Russian disinformation, which is headed by PSSI’s Ivana Smolenova. In an effort to address this subject matter, PSSI has published a number of articles and reports, and Ms. Smolenova has given numerous interviews on the pro-Russian disinformation campaign already unleased on the Czech media. During this time, PSSI has organized several events on this topic, including an international expert conference, entitled "Countering Pro-Russian Disinformation: Current Challenges and the Way Forward," that took place in May 2016.

Moreover, in 2016 PSSI initiated two joint projects with partners from the Visegrad countries in order to examine Russia’s influence measures across the region from a broader perspective.

PSSI is also a partner organization in a project examining  “Information Warfare in the Internet,” which is devoted to gaining a better understanding of pro-Kremlin disinformation efforts.

In undertaking these projects, PSSI will benefit from its established Energy Security Program, Economic and Financial Threat Program and Security Scholars Program, which have already been probing these various areas over the past several years.