Russia’s soft power in the Baltics: media, education and Russian world narrative
Abstract. The article is focused on the current Russian soft power strategy in the Baltics. Taking into account energy dependence of the Baltic states from Russia, which Russian government had frequently used as an instrument of hard power, authors have studied the increasing role of Russian soft influence in the region. Authors highlight the success of Russian media in the Baltics as a soft power instrument. Both Russian experts and local authorities acknowledge the influence of Russian TV, newspapers and web-sites on the Baltic societies. Moscow has successfully influenced internal politics in the Baltic states through the active collaboration with local political parties. Russia has included human rights and anti-Nazism narratives in its diplomacy and persistently promoted them on the main international forums in order to achieve one of the main Russian foreign policy goals – defense of the Russian minorities’ rights in the Baltic states. Russian NGOs – soft power agents - such as Russian centers of Russian World foundation have been operating actively in the region. Russian government also has fully supported pro-Russian local NGOs, which have served Russian interests in the Baltics.
Foreign experts acknowledge success of Russian soft power strategy in the region. In the same time, they stress the danger of Russian soft influence. They consider Russian soft power strategy filled with the ideology of the Russian world as a potential threat to national security and even territorial integrity of the Baltic states.