Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked aggression against Ukraine is affecting European security architecture not only because of the kinetic warfare between Russian and Ukrainian forces, but also because Russia is stepping up its political war against European nations. Russia launched this political war already during Vladimir Putin’s second presidential term (2004-2008). At that time, however, it was of low intensity, but as the relations between Russia, on the one hand, and Western political and military alliances (EU, NATO), on the other, deteriorated, Russian authorities have several times intensified their political war against the West. The decision of Western and, in particular, European nations to provide political, military and economic support to Ukraine in its defensive war against the Russian aggression marked one of the more recent phases of that intensification. Russia and NATO refrain from direct kinetic conflict through the use of nuclear deterrence and other projections of hard power, but political warfare has become the area where both parties, especially Russia, feel they have much less restraint.
Dr. Anton Shekhovtsov is Director of the NGO Centre for Democratic Integrity (Austria), Visiting Researcher at the Department of International Relations of the Central European University (Austria), and Associated Researcher at the Research Center for the History of Transformations at the University of Vienna (Austria). He holds a PhD from University College London (UK). He is the author of the Russian language book New Radical Right-Wing Parties in European Democracies (2011) and the book Russia and the Western Far Right: Tango Noir (2017). His new book, Russian Political Warfare, is planned to appear later in 2023. Shekhovtsov also published numerous op-eds in international media, and several academic articles in Journal of Democracy, Russian Politics and Law, Europe-Asia Studies, Nationalities Papers, and Patterns of Prejudice, among others.