The Russia Scare : Fake News and Genuine Threat book cover
1st Edition

The Russia Scare
Fake News and Genuine Threat

ISBN 9781032011509
Published July 8, 2022 by Routledge
220 Pages

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Book Description

The Russia Scare assesses the scope, character and extent of Russian interference in the affairs of liberal democratic states.

This book examines the ‘Russia scare’ in a dynamic manner, stressing the interaction between threat perception, responses and subsequent policies. What forms did this threat take, what were the instruments used, how effective were the deployed tools and who were the allies with whom Russia worked in these endeavours? Above all, what impact did interference have on target societies? The book explores why Russia engaged in such activities, what the probable chain of command was (if any) and the role of the Russian leadership in all of this, as well as investigating the response of Western societies and governments. The author sifts the real from the imagined, which can only be achieved by establishing the larger historical context. He scrutinises the fundamental question: was Russia before the invasion of Ukraine in 2022 really engaged in a sustained ‘hybrid warfare’ campaign to sow discord and undermine Western democracies? If so, what were the strategic purposes underlying such an activity? Various hypotheses are analysed, notably that Russian post-Cold War activity is nothing exceptional in the context of great power confrontation; that all great powers are engaged in one way or another in such actions, and thus contextualisation is important; and that Russia’s subversive activity was often exaggerated, even misrepresented. Responses potentially amplified the elements of subversion represented by the original threat. Threats exist, but responses always need to be calibrated so as not to inflict self-harm on the integrity of liberal democracy itself.

This book will be of great interest to students, scholars and academics of international relations, comparative politics, security and defence studies, global governance and Russian politics, as well as politicians, political advisers, NGOs, diplomats and journalists.

Table of Contents


1. Historical Legacies and Context

2. Was Putin Out to Subvert the West?

3. The Russians Are Coming 1: Meddling in America

4. The Russians Are Coming 2: Britain, Brexit and Beyond

5. The Russians Are Coming 3: Europe and Beyond

6. Cyber Conflict and Management

7. Information Warfare and Disinformation Struggles

8. Explanations and Interpretations

9. Conclusion

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Richard Sakwa is Professor of Russian and European Politics at the University of Kent at Canterbury, UK; a Senior Research Fellow at the National Research University-Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia; and an Honorary Professor in the Faculty of Political Science at Moscow State University, Russia. He has published widely on Russian, post-communist and international affairs.