Kremlin Playbook

For the past six years, the Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program’s flagship research series The Kremlin Playbook has exposed how the Kremlin has sought to erode Europe’s democratic institutions through its influence in order to “break the internal coherence of the enemy system.”

In its first two reports, The Kremlin Playbook and The Kremlin Playbook 2: The Enablers, the program has focused on the Kremlin’s malign economic influence and how it translates into political influence in parts of Europe. This has been most visible in Central and Eastern Europe, as detailed in the first Kremlin Playbook, through an “unvirtuous cycle” of influence whereby the Kremlin attempts to influence a country’s decision through both economic and political channels.

However, Western Europe is not immune: The Kremlin Playbook 2 demonstrated how Russia’s malign economic influence uses—and depends on—the West’s advanced financial and economic systems to hide profits and launder ill-gotten gains, as well as to reroute funds that can be used to influence different political and economic across Europe. This web of influence makes some countries and economies dependent on Russian ties, and in turn creates points of leverage for the Kremlin. In the end, the risk is high for European and U.S. democratic systems and ability to fight corruption, malign influence, and kleptocracy.

In its most recent report, The Kremlin Playbook 3: Keeping the Faith, the program exposes how Russian malign influence works in a new dimension: the influence of religious and traditional views by the Kremlin. This research into a particularly challenging and very personal dimension—a new strategic seam—aims to ensure citizens do not unwittingly become part of an influence operation. The instrumentalization of values, traditions, and religious beliefs is a relatively recent and particularly pernicious front of the Kremlin’s influence efforts in Europe and elsewhere.

A related effort focuses on specific examples of Russian malign influence throughout Europe; to read more, visit our Kremlin Playbook Spotlight page.