Agents Of The Russian World: Proxy Groups In The Contested Neighbourhood
Anxious about losing ground to Western influence in the post-Soviet space and the ousting of many pro-Russia elites by popular electoral uprisings, the Kremlin has developed a wide range of proxy groups in support of its foreign policy objectives.
This network of pro-Kremlin groups promotes the Russian World (Russkiy Mir), a flexible tool that justifies increasing Russian actions in the post-Soviet space and beyond. Russian groups are particularly active in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova – countries that have declared their intention to integrate with the West.
Russia employs a vocabulary of ‘soft power’ to disguise its ‘soft coercion’ efforts aimed at retaining regional supremacy. Russian pseudo-NGOs undermine the social cohesion of neighbouring states through the consolidation of pro-Russian forces and ethno-geopolitics; the denigration of national identities; and the promotion of anti-US, conservative Orthodox and Eurasianist values. They can also establish alternative discourses to confuse decision-making where it is required, and act as destabilizing forces by uniting paramilitary groups and spreading aggressive propaganda.
Orysia Lutsevych writes for Chatham House.