This paper explores a number of the key instruments used in Russia to influence foreign attitudes and improve the country’s reputation and image abroad. For decades, the battle for the hearts and minds of people around the world was fought with propaganda, which is defined by one commentator as “the engine of mental corruption” operated for manipulative purposes. This paper offers a snapshot of Soviet-era propaganda tools and brings the discussion into the context of present-day Russia. The development and deployment of the new instruments intended to “affect others” take place in an environment in which “softer” approaches play an increasingly important role. Based on the argument that modern-day Russia’s efforts show a significant degree of continuity with those of Soviet times, where soft forms of power bordered on hard power applications, the paper questions their effectiveness. Finally, it concludes that in today’s world, propaganda is either limited in effect or is counterproductive. To achieve its current goals, Russia needs to focus its attention on matching words with deeds in its policies and avoiding manipulative tactics for the sake of appearing more attractive.

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