Russia and the Democracy Rollback in Europe
Policy Challenge: The EU and United States tried to promote democracy in post-communist and post-Soviet countries for 25 years. They had an impact in Central Europe but little further east. Doing better requires understanding fully how and why Russia opposes democracy promotion and promotes undemocratic norms abroad. Its rulers see this as key to staying in power and building a sphere of influence, using various channels and tools to shape regimes abroad in line with their model.
Policy Recommendations: Existing democracy policies and tools must adapt to compete with Russian counter-actions, and new ones found for less traditional areas. More country prioritization and country- specific policies are needed. Democracy protection should be pursued through diplomatic, security and economic support, as well as assistance programs. The United States and EU should build up democracy caucuses in international bodies, strengthen those that have a democracy mission, and stress the democracy dimension of transatlantic ones. Greater collaboration can compensate for resource constraints and Russian counter-influence.