The so-called ‘soft-narrative’ is a rhetorical line voiced in defense of Russia’s actions within the West, such as 2016 US election interference.
Molly McKew has rightly described how it shifts culpability for Kremlin aggression against the West from Russia back to the US/West.
“It’s essentially. ‘Yes, Russia does bad things, but so does the West/US. And really, the West should know better so it’s worse.’
“Anything you do to punish Putin proves his point and makes him stronger.
“It’s silly to think full-spectrum warfare is a thing when Russia can’t even pick up the trash.
“It’s the doubt narrative,” she says. “Not pro-Kremlin but moral equivalency or ‘Russia’s not a thing.'”
As you delve into discussions online, you will hear this argument frequently. It’s embraced by people supposedly “in the know” about Russian information war and influence campaigns. It’s also echoed by Westerners who, while no fans of Russia, are keen to highlight their own world-weary skepticism for Western governments.
The soft narrative: call it by its given name.