Soft power is a crucial element of a nation’s foreign policy toolkit, and countries with terrible reputations (whether deserved or the result of information warfare campaigns against them) usually suffer even if only because people become reluctant to trade with them or visit there. By contrast, those with excellent reputations (once again, whether deserved or the result of very positive perception management campaigns) benefit by attracting more investment and tourists at the very least. It’s therefore in every state’s national interests to improve their soft power and counteract information warfare campaigns against them.
Such is the case with Russia, which has been victimized by the West’s demonization campaign for years already to the point where the country’s very name has practically become a cuss word in some societies. Many Westerners have been indoctrinated into regarding Russia as some ultimate evil with which they shouldn’t ever associate, let alone visit. The reality, however, is absolutely different from what the Western Mainstream Media portrays. Russia isn’t some ‘dangerous” so-called “rogue state” run by an alleged “killer” like Biden recently claimed, but is a safe place with a responsible government that’s genuinely popular at home.
Alas, as they say, “seeing is believing”, and few folks might not take the above fact-check seriously unless they literally saw it with their very own eyes. Russian policymakers are aware of this axiom, hence why they passed a law that President Putin just signed earlier this week allowing tourists to remain in the country for six months so long as they’ve booked their hotel stay in advance for the duration of their trip. This shows that Russia has nothing to hide and is actually eager to encourage as many people as possible to come see the truth about the country themselves.
On the other side of the world, the US recently decided to punish average Russians by denying them non-immigrant visas for the indefinite future as a result of increasing tensions with Moscow. I analyzed this earlier in the month in my article about how “America Must Stop Punishing Average Russians If It’s To Regain Its Soft Power”. The piece speculates that one of the motives behind this move was to prevent American-friendly Russians (i.e. the category of Russians who’d pay a relative fortune to visit the US out of sincere interest in it) from seeing the dismal reality of Biden’s dystopian hellhole, which might actually make them anti-American.
It’s also important to point out that the new tourism reforms aren’t based on the principle of reciprocity like before, meaning that they’re open to citizens of all countries. With this in mind, although it wasn’t planned as such since it was presumably in the works for some time, one can consider it to be a clever response to the US’ latest move. What’s meant by this is that the contrast between the two Great Powers couldn’t be clearer, nor their role reversal in the New Cold War. Back during the Old Cold War, the USSR restricted foreign trips to the country while the US encouraged them, but now Russia and the US have switched places.
Any objective observer, regardless of however they feel about the Russian and American governments, should question why the former is being so transparent while the latter is so secretive. Quite clearly, Russia is confident enough with its national reality (natural warts and all like every country has) in order to encourage as many people as possible to visit while the US is becoming so self-conscious about its myriad domestic problems to the point where it no longer feels comfortable letting American-friendly Russians visit out of fear that they might become anti-American after seeing that they’ve been lied to by US perception managers this whole time.
All those who are sincerely interested in Russia should certainly visit the country at their earliest convenience if they haven’t done so already. The Eurasian Great Power’s tourism reforms make this easier than ever for everyone. There’s no more convincing way to enlighten one’s family and friends about the fact that their own Western governments have lied to them about Russia than for a loved one to visit that very same country and bring back exciting photos and footage of the excellent time they had there. With time, Russia’s soft power will naturally improve through these efforts, which will by default damage the West’s own by exposing their lies.