What kinds of moral theories, or even just considerations, come into play for state-level action in trying to influence another nation's political election process, in terms of information/propaganda?
There's a lot of consternation about Russia's systematic influence campaigns in a variety of European and North American elections. To me, it seems like the people and governments of those countries are justified in being indignant about this. However, it seems equally clear that some forms of public (out in the open) diplomacy, that might affect elections, aren't affronts (or at least are not affronts at the same level).
What I'm looking for is a framework from which to assess the ethics of different actions in this area, at a finer level of detail than just utilitarianism or virtue ethics. For utilitarianism, what are the good(s) we are trying to maximize, and how do they relate to the different kinds of actions a nation might take to influence a foreign election? Similarly for virtue ethics, what are the "virtues" of a good nation.
Since this only makes sense in a framework of sovereign states, one way to look at this question is, to ask when the nation's sovereignty has been violated by a foreign nation's actions vis a vis their internal electoral process. Even if there are not relatively clear lines to cross, what are the features/dimensions on which to assess where one nation's actions sit.
Another feature of this is whether actors from a foreign nation have a different set of ethical constraints from domestic actors. E.g. maybe it is unethical (or less ethical) for foreign actors to buy a large amount of standard political commercial time; an action that is pretty typical for domestic actors.
To list some of the assumptions I've made here
Such a thing a ethics exists within the sphere of international actions. If this seems like too much structure, my question is really about when is one nation justified in taking offense at, and thus taking some sort of response to, another nation's actions. (Note this can go the other way too: one nation takes what should be considered benign/standard actions and uses them as a (false) pretext for their retaliatory actions).
I'm talking about elections, and assuming that they are to some reasonable degree free and fair. These require a fair bit of information exchange, which is why I think foreign communications/propaganda are a particularly salient class of actions to consider.
I'm mostly thinking about state-level actions done by recognized government actors for political purposes even though in some cases the line between public (governmental) and private actors and actions might be blurred (the United Fruit Company provides a historical example beyond the situation of today)