External Publications

May 15, 2017

The Great Russia Myth

From the May/June issue of Berlin Policy Journal

Vladimir Putin’s Russia may strike fear in the hearts of Europe and beyond, but much of what we see as strength is rooted in weakness. The West should be careful not to make it stronger than it is.



Years after the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia still was considered a second-tier power and a paradigm of inefficiency: corrupt, authoritarian, its economy dependent upon high energy prices. Until President Vladimir Putin, that is: he turned his country’s soft power deficit into strength.

At home, his government systematically clamped down on media and internet freedom, curtailed the work of NGOs, and unleashed security forces on protests. Abroad, the Kremlin used its foreign news outlets and social media to sow fear and unease by creating the impression that it could manipulate European societies. In doing so, Russia was bypassing EU leaders and directly addressing their people – a lesson learned from the West.

Read the full article here.

Bibliographic data

Meister, Stefan. “The Great Russia Myth.” May 2017.

Berlin Policy Journal, May/June 2017