Vladimir Putin’s efforts to build influence abroad have succeeded in many places, but the Kremlin has also faced snags and defeats. Thomas Kent looks at six cases where hubris and miscalculation led to temporary or permanent reversals of the Kremlin’s fortunes, and the reasons for those setbacks – from Russia’s own failings to nimble responses by pro-democracy actors. The book reviews a broad range of Russian influence operations in Ukraine, Ecuador, South Africa, and North Macedonia, as well as Moscow’s efforts to promote the Nordstream 2 pipeline and its Sputnik COVID vaccine. Kent offers an extensive analysis of common threads in self-defeating Kremlin behaviors, and describes in detail how the West can use this knowledge to respond more effectively to future influence efforts by Moscow.
Thomas Kent teaches about the world information war and international journalism at the Harriman Institute and has written and spoken extensively on the geopolitics of information, propaganda, journalistic ethics and press freedom. He is an Adjunct Professor, Harriman Institute, Columbia University, the former president and CEO of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a senior fellow of the Jamestown Foundation and a specialist in Russian affairs.