Inside the Kremlin House of Mirrors: how liberal democracies can counter Russian disinformation and societal interference

December 12th 2017 - 10:54

Russia’s disinformation campaigns have targeted liberal democracies in Europe and North America with the goal to undermine societal coherence and distort the democratic process. The methods employed by the Kremlin include the dissemination of false, misleading and manipulative information and bear resemblance to the techniques, tactics and procedures used by the Soviet Union.

The past few years Western governments have been struggling with the question of how to appropriately respond to counter Russian subversive activities. Appropriate responses have been fiercely debated and are increasingly implemented. This new HCSS report considers lessons for liberal democracies based on an analysis of the postures, strategies, organizational setups, programs, products, and capabilities that the following five actors have developed in recent years: the European Union, NATO, Finland, Latvia and Ukraine.

This study is based on extensive desk research and in-depth personal interviews with relevant high level representatives of these five actors. It offers recommendations for liberal democracies on how to deal with Russia’s disinformation operations. The point of departure is the appropriate role and competence of government, as well as the constraints placed thereon in the context of a liberal democratic order. Of particular interest is how overall (top-down) visions, strategies and capabilities can help provide the best circumstances for societal resilience such as through (bottom-up) societal initiatives.

Download the report via the button on the right.

Tim Sweijs is a Senior Strategist. He is the initiator, creator, and author of numerous studies, methodologies, and tools for research projects in horizon scanning, conflict analysis, international and national security risk assessment, and capability development. He has led multicenter research projects for both private and public sector organizations – including the European Commission and various European governments.

Katarina Kertysova is a strategic analyst at HCSS. She holds a degree in International Relations and French from the University of St Andrews, after which she pursued security studies at Sciences Po Paris and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO).  

Prior to joining HCSS, Katarina worked as a researcher at the Clingendael International Energy Programme and later in the private energy sector in Slovakia. Her research experience includes work conducted for the UNDP, the Carnegie Moscow Centre and the GLOBSEC Policy Institute, among others.