"Ah, that's the American stuff. Russians are still working on it and are trying to figure out what their own approach should be," he said. "They don't even have one name for it, do they? And they prefer a different term..."
"Myagkaya sila - soft power", I said.
"Yes! Soft power. They're more comfortable with this one." His face suddenly lit up: "By the way, did you see what a success Ukraine has been? I don't think they expected it to work so well."
As unnerving as this might sound, I was actually amused to hear it, because this corresponded to a lot of my analysis on the subject, as well. Yes, there is a strong military -- i.e. "hard power" -- aspect to Russia's involvement in the current conflict in Ukraine. However, had it not been for a solid 'presence' of Russian soft power in the country -- even if we assume that it's been limited to its Eastern regions -- none of this would be possible.
Original image from Valdai Club.