The US Department of State has recently published a report on Kremlin-funded media, identifying RT’s and Sputnik’s role in Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem. According to the report’s executive summary:
January 2022 Russian state-funded and state-directed media outlets RT and Sputnik are critical elements in Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem. In an August 2020 report, the U.S. Department of State’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) outlined the five pillars of Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem. RT and Sputnik are key state-funded and directed global messengers within this ecosystem, using the guise of conventional international media outlets to provide disinformation and propaganda support for the Kremlin’s foreign policy objectives. RT and Sputnik also interact with other pillars of the ecosystem by amplifying content from Kremlin and Kremlin-aligned proxy sites (some of which are connected to Russian intelligence), weaponizing social media, and promoting cyber-enabled disinformation. RT and Sputnik serve primarily as conduits for the Kremlin’s talking points while equating themselves with publicly funded, transparent and journalistically independent media organizations such as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Voice of America (VOA). RT and Sputnik’s opaque organizational structure and lack of financial transparency obscure the true extent of the Russian government’s control over the outlets’ editorial processes and staffing decisions. Moreover, Russian government officials and the outlets’ leadership have openly discussed RT and Sputnik’s role as tools of state propaganda. RT and Sputnik’s role as disinformation and propaganda outlets is most obvious when they report on issues of political importance to the Kremlin. ship position, even when the consumers are aware that RT is funded by the Russian government.
Read the full report here.
In April, the Global Influence Operations Report reported that the US designated several Russia-linked media outlets over disinformation efforts and interference in the presidential elections. However, Russia’s main English-language media outlets, RT and Sputnik, were not included. In June, we reported about a RAND study that identified the following outlets as part of the Russian disinformation ecosystem:
- RT America
- News Front
- New Eastern Outlook Journal
- Global Research
- The Strategic Culture Foundation
- Fort Russ News
- One World Press