Recommend this article which highlights NATO’s StratCom Centre of Excellence:
Janis Sarts is being asked these questions regularly.
He’s the head of the host of the conference, the NATO-accredited StratCom (strategic
communication) centre of excellence in Riga.
They’ve been around only a few years and already governments are banging on the
door asking how to insulate their elections from Russian (or other) influence.
“Once you lose trust in [elections] so much else is at stake,” Sarts says. “And the Russians are active all over the place.
“The US, UK, France, Netherlands, Spain … Montenegro was a coup attempt during the election moment, really bold,” Sarts says. “Russia as a declining power has a huge risk appetite. They don’t see the existing system as one they benefit from.”
Even now that their meddling is being exposed he doesn’t see them stopping. Look at their attitude to MH17, he says.
“Putin has seen that denial works and he knows that the typical attention span is two weeks.”
Mark Laity, who runs strategic communications at NATO’s command HQ in Europe, says Russia believes that war involves “information confrontation” at every stage of a conflict, long before an obvious war develops.
“For Russia, information dominance is an indispensable prerequisite of combat.”
Mikk Marran, director-general of Estonia’s foreign intelligence service, is on the frontline of this conflict – Estonia had been suffering this stuff long before the West woke up to it.
He agrees with Sarts.
“One might think that maybe as Russia’s
activities are exposed it would deter them
and they would not do it again. I will assure you that it has not deterred Russia. They will do it again and we will see more of it.”
Marran points out that Russia is influencing elections in all sorts of ways, not just through tech wizardry. It has built a network of influence through Europe of politicians, journalists and academics who are paid in media exposure or business opportunities, and become vocal Putin backers.