Sharp Power Influence of Russia in Central and Eastern Europe and Beyond

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Tuesday, October 4th, 2022

Tuesday, October 4, 20225:00PM - 7:00PM108N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON, M5S 3K7
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The Russian invasion in Ukraine (in 2014 and 2022), and the ongoing hybrid warfare against the West made it blatantly clear that authoritarian foreign policy in general – and Russian foreign policy in particular – cannot be grasped with the concept of “soft power”. Russia used “authoritarian inflation”, skillfully puffing itself up to look more economically, politically, and militarily powerful than it actually is, exaggerating its role in other countries’ politics and public as well as in global affairs. But this is just one element of a broader toolkit that is, in contrast to classic soft power, aimed more at being feared than about being loved. This phenomenon fits a general trend among authoritarian superpowers who are increasingly using new instruments, including the most modern technology (through cyberattacks and sophisticated automated ways of disinformation), to undermine the trust and feeling of security of the citizens of other countries – and the behavior of their leaders. “Sharp power” typically involves efforts at censorship, coercion, disinformation, and the use of manipulation to sap the integrity of independent institutions. Throughout the course, we aim to reveal and analyze patterns, channels, and functions of economic, political, and informational sharp power influence using the works of leading scholars and experts in this field, as well as through case studies done in the group. The course will put a special emphasis on the Central Eastern European region, (post-socialist states that compose the “Eastern Flank” of Western Alliances, members of both EU and NATO) when analyzing patterns of sharp power. But at the same time, these techniques will be discussed in the broader context of economic and diplomatic relations on the bilateral and multilateral (EU, OSCE, NATO) levels. The course also aims to retrospectively analyze and critically evaluate the decisions of Western leaders towards Russia at crucial points to identify the obvious mistakes of foresight with the aim of drawing lessons from them


Larysa Iarovenko


Péter Krekó
Executive Director, Political Capital, Hungary

Main Sponsor

Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies


Hungarian Studies Program

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