Russia is seeking to regain the geopolitical influence it had before the collapse of the USSR. Russia’s goal is to return to great power status by expanding its sphere of influence. The project focused on evolving countermeasures to prevent, deter and obstruct Russian revisionist agenda.

The study began by analyzing Russian behavior in the Baltics and near abroad in the recent past. The group accessed past reports and open media sources to assess the threat posed by Russia. They also interviewed a number of former and present security experts and policy makers from the Baltics.

The group found that Russia uses varied and opportunistic tactics to achieve its goals, including cyber attacks, intelligence activities, influencing the Russian diaspora, and European energy dependency to create an atmosphere of fear and insecurity in the Eastern Europe, undermining NATO and the EU. The group concluded that Russian interference is nothing new. Russian hacking is tradecraft updated for the high-tech age; online Russian troll factories are merely a new form of Soviet propaganda.

The group’s proposed countermeasures sought to reflect the variety and flexibility of Russian tactics in order to provide long-term and short-term means of securing the NATO alliance and deterring Russia. These included imposing punitive costs on Russia through a new sanctions regime, diplomatic isolation, opposition support, and new cyber policies. Other countermeasures intended to harden the target states, including strengthening NATO, increasing military posture, lowering energy dependency, and improving the counterintelligence architecture.