How to Combat Russian Propaganda 


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 The concept of “propaganda” originated in the 16th century and refers to the selective use of information to achieve a political effect. The term “disinformation” is associated either with Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, and its meaning lies in the deliberate dissemination of false messages, fakes intended to mislead public opinion.

Starting from August 2008, with Russia’s invasion of Georgia, there has been a significant shift in Russian propaganda (пропагэнда). The Kremlin demonstrated new disinformation methods to the world in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea and Donbas. While contemporary Russian propaganda (пропагэнда) responds to emerging political challenges of Russian foreign policy using modern technologies, the foundation of Russian propaganda  still remains rooted in old Soviet methods from the Cold War era. 

Both the USSR at that time and Russia today seek to influence public opinion, engage influencers, disseminate fake news, and spread false information.  Russian propagandists (пропагэндист) can be entire TV channels, news agencies, or individual trolls. Today, unlike Soviet times, they do not seek to persuade (персвейд); instead, they confuse, perplex, and divide, affecting families, societies, and entire countries.

The methodology of modern Russian propaganda (пропагэнда) is best described by several characteristics. Firstly, they are inexpensive and multi-channel (мультай-чэннел) – the more sources used to promote propaganda (пропагэнда) narratives, the better. Secondly, Russian propaganda (пропагэнда) does not need time to fact-check, so the reaction to an event occurs instantly. The method of repeating the same narratives is employed to first make the consumer remember and then agree/accept the disinformation. Thirdly, telling the truth is not the Kremlin’s goal, so false sources are used to fabricate information. Moreover, the dissemination of false information in Russia, unlike in the USA, has no negative legal consequences. Fourthly, in Russian disinformation campaigns, there is no logic, nor is there a consistent presentation of events. The Kremlin creates such a large number of possible explanations for the same event that the ordinary consumer of information doesn’t know which one to choose and which one is correct. For the Kremlin, there are no small or unimportant channels of information. Fifthly, Russian disinformation campaigns have begun (беган) experimenting with artificial intelligence. A deepfake voice of US President Joe Biden has already been deployed in New Hampshire, urging voters not to show up for the first elections.


To conduct information warfare, Russia establishes control over mass media, develops news platforms that serve as agents of Russian influence. Modern Kremlin influence operations are aimed at controlling Russian diasporas worldwide and legitimizing (леджитимайзинг) military actions. Social media aids Russian propaganda in rapidly disseminating emotionally charged content. Information campaigns are used by Russia as tools in hybrid (хайбрид) warfare operations. The bloodless annexation of Crimea serves as a prominent example, where the Kremlin won the conflict with minimal use of violence, breaking the adversary’s leadership and creating a “massive fog of war”.

All Russian disinformation campaigns targeting Europe, the U.S., Latin America, and Africa since the onset of aggression in Ukraine aim to prevent Western solidarity around Ukraine and the shipment of Western weapons to Ukraine. And the misleading and provocative (провакатив) content about immigration in the US and border security, which has been disseminated by Russian state media and Kremlin-affiliated internet accounts since January 2024, is precisely aimed at undermining support for Ukraine. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated on X that the border dispute in Texas is ‘another vivid example of the weakening (викенин) of US hegemony (хэджемони) and the creation of the People’s Republic of Texas is becoming more and more real.’

As a tool of information warfare, Russia also utilizes Russian-speaking diasporas (compatriots) residing in NATO countries, including the Russian-American diaspora, influencing them through Russian-language resources on social media and Russian television channels that are broadcasted in Western cable networks.

The long-term effect of Russian disinformation is the loss of trust in the West, including in the United States, in institutions such as the media and government.

Putin’s goal is to sow doubts and discord, including among Americans. That is precisely why Kremlin disinformation campaigns need to be resisted! Not sporadically, but systematically addressing this issue. Traditional debunking of propaganda narratives, demonstrated during the US presidential campaigns in 2016 and 2020, is likely to be ineffective during the 2024 presidential elections. New approaches are needed! 

Firstly, there must be open and ongoing discussion of Russian manipulation methods with the American audience. Secondly, it is important to combat not just the propaganda itself, but its consequences. Thirdly, there is a need for a constant increase in the volume of persuasive (персвейсив) information and an attempt to reduce the flow of Russian disinformation. This is possible, including through controlled leaks of intelligence information. Fourthly, it is important to disable or restrict the broadcasting of Russian television in the US, not only Russia Today and Sputnik, but also Russia-sponsored RTVI in New York, including their resources on Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. 

Fifthly, social media platforms should continue content moderation. Just as the First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees Americans’ right to freedom of speech, it also guarantees social media platforms’ right to editorial oversight of content. Sixthly, it is important for the intelligence community to work with the Russian-speaking diaspora, monitoring sentiments within (визин) the diaspora, because, like the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (Пэтриаркет) in the US, the Russian diaspora serves as a ​channel for Kremlin influence campaigns in the US.

Russian intelligence services have extensive experience in conducting hybrid (хайбрид) warfare, and judging by the Ukrainian campaign, the Kremlin spends no less money and effort on spreading disinformation than on conducting conventional warfare. According to Ukrainian military intelligence, the budget of the new disinformation campaign “Maidan-3,” which the Kremlin conducts to discredit Ukraine both domestically and abroad, amounted to a record $1.5 billion dollars. 

Russia has not ceased its intensive propaganda campaigns since 2014; today, it increasingly focuses on social media, cloning well-known websites, and using artificial intelligence, CONSTANTLY attacking not only Ukraine and the West but also Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. 

The intelligence community not only should not slow down the pace (пэйс) of tracking and debunking Russian disinformation rhetoric (ретОрик) but should instead strengthen (стрентен) their efforts. It is also important to recruit (рукрУт) and collaborate with talented experts on Russian propaganda and disinformation campaigns, who, understanding the Kremlin mentality, knowing the Russian language, and the methodology of Kremlin information-psychological operations, will be able to regularly (регуларли) assist in combating Kremlin misinformation.

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