As its confrontation with the West grows, Russia is increasing its use of elements of diplomatic blackmail, both veiled and direct. In general, threats and fear-mongering are some of the main tools of the Putin regime, primarily in domestic policy, where they serve as an essential means of ensuring the loyalty and obedience of the population. However, the Kremlin actively uses the same tactics beyond its borders as well, trying to win concessions from Western leaders. Let's look at the main types of Putin’s blackmail inside and outside Russia.
A state TV station in Bosnia and Herzegovina has fallen under the control of right-wing pro-Russian populists who use it to pursue their political interests.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's unusual internal structure, the result of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accord, has been the subject of long debate and detailed analysis. A country with three (or five) presidents, two ‘entities’ and one district has one of the most complicated and cumbersome state apparatuses in the world.
The on-going use of chemical warfare agents in Syria and the use of a so-called “Novichok” agent for an attempted assassination the UK have brought non-stop commentary - some from the Kremlin designed to mislead, some simply ill-informed - on the nature of chemical weapons. Chemical warfare agents (the actual chemical compounds used for chemical warfare) and chemical weapons (the systems which employ them) are subjects that are not well understood except by specialists, so some degree of uninformed commentary is to be expected.
Since their launch in the Baltic states in 2016, the Sputnik News outlets for Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have been unable to gain large audiences. Most of the articles on their websites garner only a few likes and around a couple of hundred views. As part of a large Kremlin-funded propaganda operation, there are over 30 different Sputnik language services, penetrating not only post-Soviet countries, but also Western Europe.
As Russian propaganda and disinformation spread around the world, more and more initiatives are being created to expose the lies and distortions emanating from the Kremlin: projects to expose fake news, analytical centres that review and monitor disinformation campaigns, and many private initiatives to observe Russian media.