An aggressive Russia, a divided and unsettled Europe, and a distracted and unpredictable United States have created an unprecedented and perilous confluence of events that could undermine the European security architecture and the liberal-democratic order. This was one of the main conclusions of a round table on Russian influence in Europe in the aftermath of the Ukrainian crisis, organized by the Center for the Study of Democracy following the publication of the Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe report co-written with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The round table gathered Bulgarian policy makers, experts and Sofia-based diplomats for a discussion on the possible response to the Russian subversive activities in Europe.
At the round table held on 12 December 2016, Brian Michael Jenkins, Senior Advisor to the President of the RAND Corporation, pointed out that Russian strategy recognizes that the role of nonmilitary means of achieving its goals has grown, and in many cases, exceeding the power of weapons. Warfare today involves the broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian, and other nonmilitary measures. Its goal is the manipulation of perceptions. He emphasized that countering Russia’s influence, accomplished through economic coercion, corruption, and state capture will require more than redeploying NATO battalions. It will necessitate a fundamental reformulation of EU and U.S. strategy.
The U.S. Congress took a first step and recently passed a bill setting up a new interagency group aimed at stifling Russian attempts to “exert covert influence over peoples and governments.” The United States can look for ways to encourage greater foreign investment, protect investors against local predators, back local entrepreneurs, and use its own intelligence resources and the expertise it has gained in investigating financial crimes, money laundering, and terrorist financing to provide investigative assistance in nailing local offenders.