russia

Iran’s Cultural Attaché in Moscow Reza Maleki stressed the need to further promote relations between the Islamic Republic and the Russian Federation, saying enhanced cultural ties between the two nations will pave the ground for closer political relations. “Relations between Iran and Russia should not be confined to the level of the governments,” Maleki said in a meeting about cultural relations and their impact on political ties held at the University of Tehran’s Faculty of World Studies.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak and Fairbanks Mayor Jim Matherly have laid wreaths at the monument dedicated to heroes of the Alaska-Siberia (ALSIB) Lend-Lease air route. During World War II, Fairbanks, Alaska, was part of the air route along which aircraft were transported from the United States to the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease agreements.[...] From 1942 to 1945, Soviet and US pilots ferried about 8,000 warplanes, which had a meaningful effect on the course of the fighting on the Soviet-German front

In addition to formal public diplomacy mouthpieces like Russia Today and Sputnik, Russia employs armies of paid trolls and botnets to generate false information that can later be circulated and legitimated as if it were true. Then, in 2016, Russian military intelligence went a step further, by hacking into the private network of the Democratic National Committee, stealing information, and releasing it online to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy. 

Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election, and its suspected hacking of French President Emmanuel Macron’s campaign servers, should surprise no one, given President Vladimir Putin’s (mis)understanding of soft power. Before his re-election in 2012, Putin told a Moscow newspaper that “soft power is a complex of tools and methods to achieve foreign policy goals without the use of force, through information and other means of influence.”

Clingendael's Jan Melissen and Emillie de Keulenaar on the urgency of going digital.

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