At the lower end of the scale of ambition of information warfare comes broad-based, long-term weakening and undermining of adversary societies overall, without necessarily any specific short-term goal other than increasing Russia’s relative strength in a classic zero-sum approach.
The underlying approaches of activities like this, and some guiding principles, are broadly recognisable as reinvigorated aspects of subversion campaigns from the Cold War era and earlier. At that time, aspects of these campaigns were referred to as “active measures” in a sometimes misleading adoption of Soviet terminology of the time. According to a major Finnish study, active measures constitute:
“certain overt and covert techniques for influencing events and behaviour in, and the actions of, foreign countries. They may entail the following objectives:
• influencing the policies of another government
• undermining confidence in its leaders and institutions
• disrupting the relations between other nations
• discrediting and weakening governmental and nongovernmental opponents.”
A key element of subversion campaigns is “spreading disinformation among the population about the work of state bodies, undermining their authority, and discrediting administrative structures.”