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Pro-Russian Sentiment Spreading Rapidly Online; US Culture War Politics Play Prominent Role NYT Finds

February 27th, 2022 10:07

The New York Times is report­ing how pro-Russ­ian sen­ti­ment is spread­ing online as an exten­sion of US “cul­ture war” pol­i­tics. Accord­ing to the New York Times report, influ­en­tial US con­ser­v­a­tive voic­es are play­ing an increas­ing role in ampli­fy­ing pro-Russ­ian messaging:

Feb­ru­ary 25, 2022 The day before Rus­sia invad­ed Ukraine, for­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump called the wartime strat­e­gy of Pres­i­dent Vladimir V. Putin of Rus­sia “pret­ty smart.” His remarks were post­ed on YouTube, Twit­ter and the mes­sag­ing app Telegram, where they were viewed more than 1. 3 mil­lion times. Right-wing com­men­ta­tors includ­ing Can­dace Owens, Stew Peters and Joe Olt­mann also jumped into the fray online with posts that were favor­able to Mr. Putin and that ratio­nal­ized his actions against Ukraine. “I’ll stand on the side of Rus­sia right now,” Mr. Olt­mann, a con­ser­v­a­tive pod­cast­er, said on his show this week. And in Telegram groups like The Patri­ot Voice and Face­book groups includ­ing Texas for Don­ald Trump 2020, mem­bers crit­i­cized Pres­i­dent Biden’s han­dling of the con­flict and expressed sup­port for Rus­sia, with some say­ing they trust­ed Mr. Putin more than Mr. Biden. The online con­ver­sa­tions reflect how pro-Rus­sia sen­ti­ment has increas­ing­ly pen­e­trat­ed Twit­ter, Face­book, YouTube, right-wing pod­casts, mes­sag­ing apps like Telegram and some con­ser­v­a­tive media. As Rus­sia attacked Ukraine this week, those views spread, infus­ing the online dis­course over the war with sym­pa­thy — and even approval — for the aggres­sor. The pos­i­tive Rus­sia com­ments are an exten­sion of the cul­ture wars and griev­ance pol­i­tics that have ani­mat­ed the right in the Unit­ed States in the past few years. In some of these cir­cles, Mr. Putin car­ries a strong­man appeal, viewed as some­one who gets his way and does not let polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness stop him. “Putin embod­ies the strength that Trump pre­tend­ed to have,” said Emer­son T. Brook­ing, a res­i­dent senior fel­low for the Atlantic Coun­cil who stud­ies dig­i­tal plat­forms. “For these indi­vid­u­als, Putin’s actions aren’t a tragedy — they’re a fan­ta­sy ful­filled.” Sup­port for Mr. Putin and Rus­sia is now being expressed online in a jum­ble of facts, obser­va­tions and opin­ions, some­times entwined with lies. In recent days, com­menters have com­pli­ment­ed Mr. Putin and false­ly accused NATO of vio­lat­ing nonex­is­tent ter­ri­to­r­i­al agree­ments with Rus­sia, which they said jus­ti­fied the Russ­ian president’s dec­la­ra­tion of war on Ukraine, accord­ing to a review of posts by The New York Times.

Read the rest here.

As the NYT points out, such pro-Russ­ian sen­ti­ment is a strik­ing new devel­op­ment in US politics::

The pro-Rus­sia sen­ti­ment is a stark depar­ture from dur­ing the Cold War, when the Sovi­et Union was viewed by many Amer­i­cans as a foe. In recent years, that atti­tude shift­ed, part­ly helped along by inter­fer­ence from Rus­sia. Before the 2016 U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Krem­lin-backed groups used social net­works like Face­book to inflame Amer­i­can vot­ers, cre­at­ing more divi­sions and resis­tance to polit­i­cal correctness.After Mr. Trump was elect­ed, he often appeared favor­able to — and even admir­ing of — Mr. Putin. That seed­ed a more pos­i­tive view of Mr. Putin among Mr. Trump’s sup­port­ers, mis­in­for­ma­tion researchers said.

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) pub­lished a report ear­li­er on how Fox News Star Tuck­er Carl­son has fea­tured promi­nent­ly in Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da efforts.

GIOR has also recent­ly pub­lished a report on a new and devel­op­ing alliance between US con­ser­v­a­tives and Euro­pean nation­al­ists, seen as a means for Rus­sia to exert covert influ­ence in Europe and the US. Accord­ing to that report, cul­ture war issues play a promi­nent role in that alliance:

Rus­sia is a pro­lif­ic actor in the influ­ence oper­a­tions are­na, both in the US and Europe. Russ­ian Pres­i­dent PUTIN has expressed an inter­est in Rus­sia becom­ing the ide­o­log­i­cal cen­ter of a new glob­al con­ser­v­a­tive alliance, and Euro­pean far-right lead­ers have tak­en pro-Russ­ian posi­tions based on a sim­i­lar ide­ol­o­gy. Hun­gary is at the cen­ter of a devel­op­ing alliance between Euro­pean far-right nation­al­ists and Amer­i­can con­ser­v­a­tives that Rus­sia could poten­tial­ly exploit for use in infor­ma­tion war­fare. This alliance oper­ates under the rubric of “Nation­al Con­ser­vatism,” cen­tered on nation­al sov­er­eign­ty, cul­tur­al iden­ti­ty, and oppo­si­tion to glob­al insti­tu­tions and rep­re­sent­ing a poten­tial­ly rad­i­cal change for the US con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment away from long-held Rea­gan-era philosophies.

Dowload the full report here.