Artamonova Uliana
COVID-19 Pandemic: Challenges and Opportunities for Russian and American Public Diplomacy
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DOI 10.31857/S268667300015221-3

The article examines to what extent did the COVID-19 pandemic affect Russian and American public diplomacy. Author analyzes the informational dimension of relationship crisis between Russia and the U.S. as well as the state of their respective national public diplomacy systems, identifying stagnation of American public diplomacy after the end of Cold War and revival of Russian public diplomacy in 2000s. Significant part of the article is dedicated to analysis of new aspects of public diplomacy, which have occurred during pandemic: international humanitarian aid against coronavirus and vaccine’s race. Author examines how both Russian and American public diplomacies were able to exploit those aspects. In addition, article studies the reforms of public diplomacy institutions that took place in 2020. Author analyzes various data: public opinion polls, statistical researches, interview with politicians, public departments’ reports, press-releases of international organizations, acts of national laws, scientific works of Russian and international experts on international relations and public diplomacy. Article draws several conclusions. First, the COVID-19 pandemic has not changed relationship between Russia and the U.S. in terms of their rivalry in the global informational sphere. Pandemic as a factor has only highlighted already existing trends in the public diplomacy of both countries: positive dynamics for Russia and negative dynamics for the USA. Thus, in terms of image-improving Russian public diplomacy has gained more from opportunities related to pandemic, than American public diplomacy. If the trend remains, Russian public diplomacy has positive future prospects. American dynamics will directly depend on the activity of the new administration in reforming public diplomacy institutions. The reinforcement of anti-Russian rhetoric in the framework of global promotion of liberal democratic values might become a serious challenge for Russian public diplomacy.


Keywords: public diplomacy | soft power | informational war | Russian-American relations | pandemic | COVID-19 | humanitarian aid | vaccines | reforms |

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