ON MY MIND
A lot of ink has been spilled on Russia’s information war tactics over the past couple years since Peter Pomerantsev and Michael Weiss got the ball rolling back in 2014 with their landmark report, The Menace Of Unreality.
So one could be forgiven for wondering whether yet another report on the subject is really all that necessary. One might ask: Is there anything new to say about this topic?
Well, the answer is an emphatic yes.
A new report by the Center for European Policy Analysis (featured below), Winning The Information War, co-authored by Edward Lucas and Peter Pomerantsev, breaks a lot of new ground. The report, prepared in collaboration with the Legatum Institute, presents thorough and exhaustive case studies of Russian information war tactics in Central and Eastern Europe, focusing on Ukraine, the Baltic states, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland. It puts the Kremlin’s newest international propaganda organ, Sputnik, under a microscope. And it offers plausible and realistic policy recommendations.
As the authors note, Russia’s information war tactics aren’t just propaganda. They are a fine-tuned weapon designed to undermine Western values and institutions.
Understanding them and learning how to counter them are of the utmost importance, and this report is a big step in that direction.
IN THE NEWS
Yevgeny Urlashov, the former mayor of Yaroslavl, has been sentenced to a 12 1/2-year prison term in a corruption case widely seen as politically motivated.
Russia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office has identified Kursk and Astrakhan oblasts as well as the Udmurt Republic as the most corrupt regions in Russia.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach called for an overhaul of the global anti-doping system while he defended not invoking the “nuclear option” and banning all Russians from the Rio Olympics this week.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport has reportedly rejected an appeal by 17 Russians rowers against their ban from the Rio Olympics.
The world ruling body for swimming denied reports in the Russian media on August 2 that swimmers Vladimir Morozov and Nikita Lobintsev have been cleared to compete in the Rio Olympics.
Russia’s health minister says there is no threat of an outbreak of anthrax spreading beyond the Yamalo-Nenets region, where it has killed one person and infected at least 20 others.
Nadia Savchenko has launched a hunger strike over the plight of Ukrainians who remain incarcerated in Russia and accused the authorities in Kyiv of not doing enough to help them.
WHAT I’M READING
Today’s Must Read: CEPA On How To Win The Information War
The long-awaited report from the Center for European Policy Analysis,Winning The Information War, is out.
The report was prepared in cooperation with the Legatum Institute and is co-authored by Edward Lucas and Peter Pomerantsev.
Here’s a teaser: “The Russian government’s use of information warfare — “disinformation” — differs from traditional forms of propaganda. Its aim is not to convince or persuade, but rather to undermine. Instead of agitating audiences into action, it seeks to keep them hooked and distracted, passive and paranoid. Inside Russia, this concept is known as “information-psychological war.” It is a tactic used to disorganize and demoralize an opponent. It is fought in the realms of perception and the minds of men. It continues through both official peace and wartime.”
Read it all here:
The Kremlin’s Ideology
In an op-ed in The New York Times, Jochen Bittner, political editor for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, argues that Russia does indeed have an ideology for its new Cold War with the West — and that the West needs to learn how to counter it.
“It’s a worldview that has become increasingly clear through the era of Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, via a mosaic of public political statements, off-the-record conversations with academics and intelligence insights. Let’s call it ‘orderism,'” Bittner writes.
“Orderism has started to challenge democracy in many parts of the world — Turkey, Poland, the Philippines. But Mr. Putin’s Russia believes it holds the copyright on this formula, and sees it as the sharp end of the wedge it is trying to drive among the nations of the West.”
Welcome To The War
Eerik-Niiles Kross, a member of Estonia’s parliament and a former intelligence chief, has a piece in Politico arguing that the hacking of the Democratic National Committee is just the latest example of Russia’s ongoing war with the West.
“Russia’s activities aren’t part of a conspiracy. They are elements of an openly stated doctrine — a resurrection of Soviet-style political warfare, in which intelligence agencies seek to amplify divisions among their enemies, weakening the Western front by sowing discord and dissent whenever the opportunity presents itself,” Kross writes.
“The political warfare of the Cold War is back — in updated form, with meaner, more modern tools, including a vast state media empire in Western languages, hackers, spies, agents, useful idiots, compatriot groups, and hordes of internet trolls.”
Welcome To The Cyber War
Writing in Foreign Affairs, cybersecurity expert Eugene Rumer explains whyRussian cyberattacks against the United States will continue.
“Why did the Russian government do it? Because it could. Knowledge is power. Having the inside scoop on an adversary is a source of leverage that is too good to pass up. And collecting such intelligence is what the Russian intelligence services have a long record of doing with some skill and success,” Rumer writes.
Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous
The Organized Crime and Corruption Project has a new expose out, this time about Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin’s 85.6-meter yacht.
Separating Sanctions From Minsk
Writing in the Harvard Review, Andreas Umland argues that the European Union should decouple sanctions against Russia from the Minsk Agreement. It’s a couple weeks old, but still worth reading.
More On Russo-Turkish Rapprochement
Political analyst Ilgar Gurbanov has a piece in the Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Monitor on the prospects for rapprochement between Russia and Turkey and for the TurkStream gas pipeline.