Estonian Report Details Russia’s ‘Hybrid Threat’ to Europe

For a perfect example of how current Russian propaganda works and its effects, please see the following post:

WAR 2020 Russia’s Information Agression


Combating Russian propaganda increasingly important front in information war

A new report by the Estonian Internal Security Service emphasizes the danger a resurgent Russia and a weakening European Union poses to stability and democracy in the region, highlighting Russian propaganda efforts in recent years.

The service, known in Estonia as Kaitsepolitseiamet or “Kapo,” produces an Annual Review summarizing trends and internal threats to Estonia. The 2015 Annual Review, released last week, includes sections on cyber security, preventing international terrorism, and fighting corruption, among other issues.

However, the first page of the report makes it clear what the service considers the top threat to Estonian and European security: “In the context of Russian aggression, the security threat arising from a weakening of the European Union is many times greater than that arising from the refugees settling in Estonia.”

“This is the most important point,” Martin Arpo, Kapo’s deputy director general, told the Washington Free Beacon. “For Estonia, the report is a reminder: let’s think about real security threats, and not imaginary ones. The migration crisis is bringing focus away from real threats not only in Estonia but in Europe, as well. The only hope for Putin to fulfill his ambitions is that Europe and NATO are split or have controversies inside. The refugee crisis is really the only serious topic that can bring these controversies.”

The first page of the report references the Gerasimov Doctrine, a vision of war through non-military means published by Russian Chief of General Staff Valeriy Gerasimov in early 2013.

The doctrine stipulates that the purpose of modern war is to erode the “readiness, will, and values” of the enemy. This concept drives how Estonia evaluates the internal threat from Russia.

Propaganda and other Russian activities in Estonia are tools, Arpo says, “for possibilities to create instability. The Russians won’t do anything militarily without creating an internal threat—the impression of an internal threat, if not a real one.

One front in the information battle has been the debate over Syrian refugees.

Arpo said Russia is exploiting the immigration debate to sow dissent and bolster opposition movements within European countries.

“Populists have gained a lot of ground by bringing the refugee topic to the public,” he said. “Russian propaganda picks up the populist comments. The prevailing message is that governments in Europe are unable to address the migration crisis, so populists now represent ‘the people’ more than their governments.”

Asked how Estonia tries to fight the Russian propaganda campaigns against it, Arpo laughed. “The best you can achieve with Russian outlets is that they don’t use what you give them.”

If the facts are good enough, he says, the Russians can’t spin them, so they end up on the cutting-room floor. Often this process is seen as wasted effort.

“You have to tell your own story. Don’t get trapped into their story. If there are lies, we have to say it is a lie, and what is the truth. But we can’t lose ourselves on this Russian battlefield, reproducing their narrative for them.

“Propaganda is for the Western audience as much as the Russian one, and the West should not forget this. It is the electorates of NATO countries who will ultimately decide if NATO protects us or not, if sanctions continue or not.”

Full article: Estonian Report Details Russia’s ‘Hybrid Threat’ to Europe (Washington Free Beacon)

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