US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States
Russian soft power and non-military information influence pose significant threats to the integrity of NATO in the Baltic States. Russian media, disinformation, and propaganda, manipulation of political processes, infiltration of Russian language education, and organization of ethnic Russians through formal and informal foreign policy structures may destabilize the Baltic States to the point that Russia can justify military intervention, presenting NATO with a strategic dilemma in the Baltics leading to protracted warfare or dissolution of the alliance. Soviet-style Active Measures present challenges reminiscent to those faced during the Cold War, with an asymmetric advantage wielded by a regime intent on maintaining domestic stability while conducting propaganda and disinformation campaigns, thus increasing control over domestic information content and flow. Free societies in the West must account for independent media and for the likelihood that observers will believe the disinformation. These challenges require nuanced and comprehensive strategies that address nefarious influence while preventing escalation between the US and NATO against a revanchist and increasingly authoritarian Russia.