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RECOMMENDED READING: “Russian Information Attacks Keep Hitting The Eu’s Weak Spots”

November 11th, 2020 15:25

In Octo­ber, Bloomberg pub­lished a use­ful report on Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion efforts tar­get­ing the EU and with a par­tic­u­lar empha­sis on Russ­ian-backed media oper­a­tions such as RT (for­mer­ly Rus­sia Today) and Sput­nik. The report begins:

Since news first broke that Russ­ian oppo­si­tion leader Alex­ey Naval­ny had been poi­soned with a nerve agent, some of the most pop­u­lar cov­er­age in Ger­many has come from Krem­lin-fund­ed out­lets ques­tion­ing Berlin’s efforts to blame Moscow for the attack. RT Deutsch’s sto­ries denounc­ing the accu­sa­tions as shrill and hyp­o­crit­i­cal ranked among the top 10 most shared sources on Ger­man-lan­guage social media on the sub­ject, reg­is­ter­ing more engage­ment than offi­cial gov­ern­ment state­ments or cov­er­age in main­stream out­lets like Welt, Bild and broad­cast­er ZDF, accord­ing to analy­sis by the Euro­pean Union cov­er­ing the peri­od since the August attack. The pop­u­lar Krem­lin-backed posts were just a part of a flood of sto­ries from Russ­ian state media across Europe that sought to cast doubt on the offi­cial Ger­man account, push­ing unsub­stan­ti­at­ed alter­na­tives rang­ing from alle­ga­tions Navalny’s poi­son­ing was a west­ern intel­li­gence plot to claims he did it to him­self. Echo­ing Russ­ian offi­cials’ state­ments, the tor­rent was picked up by some Ger­man politi­cians, as well.More than five years after Europe began try­ing to com­bat Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion in earnest, the Kremlin’s cam­paigns are still hit­ting their tar­gets. Along­side overt oper­a­tions that take advan­tage of an infor­ma­tion land­scape that makes peo­ple dis­trust­ful and will­ing to buy into con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, Moscow’s out­lets have steadi­ly adapt­ed their tac­tics to evade efforts to com­bat them, often using local media and writ­ers to avoid detec­tion and reach recep­tive audi­ences. The EU’s focus on expos­ing Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion hasn’t suc­ceed­ed in sub­stan­tial­ly lim­it­ing its reach. “The Krem­lin remains large­ly unde­terred in using dis­in­for­ma­tion as a polit­i­cal weapon,” said Moni­ka Richter, a senior direc­tor at Counter Action and for­mer EU offi­cial at the East Strat­com Task Force. “The EU still pre­dom­i­nant­ly tack­les dis­in­for­ma­tion as a tech gov­er­nance chal­lenge — but it is also a geopo­lit­i­cal secu­ri­ty threat.”

Read the rest here.

Recent Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ing on Russ­ian backed media has included:

  • A report on a study by the Alliance for Secur­ing Democ­ra­cy that said such media focused on four key themes: the sad state of U.S. polit­i­cal cul­ture, crit­i­cism of the U.S. media, divi­sions in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty, and Trump’s refusal to con­demn white supremacy.
  • A report on an RT OpEd that respond­ed to the US Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion results by sug­gest­ing that “US democ­ra­cy real­ly is in its death throes.”
  • A report on an RT arti­cle claim­ing that the social media plat­form known as Par­ler is strug­gling with a mas­sive inflow of new users result­ing from what RT char­ac­ter­izes as” Twitter’s lat­est round of censorship.”