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Russia’s use of psychological warfare

Estonia Confronts Propaganda

January 2016, Number 07.SE

“The international community faces serious challenges arising from a new mode of information warfare that Russia has deployed during the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in 2014-2016. This ongoing “propaganda war” is the most recent and frightening example of information warfare. It reflects the wide array of nonmilitary tools used to exert pressure and influence the behavior of countries. When skillfully combined, disinformation, psychological pressure, and malicious attacks on large-scale information and communication systems can be even more dangerous than traditional weapons systems since they are extremely difficult to discover and combat.

This article examines Russian “propaganda machinery” and discusses Estonia’s experience in combating threats from Russian information warfare.

Psychological warfare follows the same logic as traditional warfare. The actions of one party involved in a conflict create the need for actions by the other party to balance the situation. Preventive actions provoke counteractions, and each successive step can be more aggressive than the previous one. This leads to conflict escalation, even as the parties to the conflict are convinced that they are focused only on self-defense and are acting pre-emptively...”

Excerpt from Viljar Veebel, Estonia Confronts Propaganda,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues  7, Special Edition, 2016: 14-19.

Prof. Viljar Veebel is an associate professor at the Estonian National Defense College. His research focuses on European Union-Russia relations, including the impact of political and economic sanctions, the propaganda war related to the Ukrainian conflict and security strategies for small states in Central and Eastern Europe. He consults on EU-related projects in Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine and the Balkans. He received his doctorate in 2012 from the University of Tartu.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.