Information Space

The Kremlin frequently exploits new opportunities in the digital domain to promote narratives conducive to Russian interests and to undermine liberal Western governments. Moscow pushes these narratives via a variety of platforms, including traditional and social media; educational, cultural, and entertainment programs; and cyber-enabled information operations. In countries with Russian-speaking populations, Moscow-backed Russian-language media, including pop culture and entertainment programming, are powerful tools.

Information Operations:
The Cases of Germany, the UK, and Spain

Throughout Europe, Moscow is using social media, state-controlled news outlets, and cyber operations to disrupt decisionmaking and promote societal divisions.

In Germany, Russian information operations have exploited internal tensions over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policies and supported the radical nationalist Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) party and far-left Die Linke party.
AfD supporters protest German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policies
The most infamous episode of Russian disinformation involved a false story in early 2016 about an ethnically Russian, thirteen-year-old German girl abducted by migrants.
The story spread quickly by way of Russian state-controlled media outlets (RT and Sputnik), social media, and even Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
UK lawmakers are conducting an ongoing investigation into whether the Kremlin sought to influence the outcome of the 2016 Brexit referendum.
British Prime Minister Theresa May in November 2017 publicly accused Russia of “weaponizing information” and interfering in various Western election campaigns.
Spain’s foreign and defense ministers accused Russian state and private groups of trying to bolster support for the Catalonian referendum. These groups were reportedly aided by teams operating in Venezuela.

Moscow repeatedly has used new technologies and information as key elements of its foreign policy arsenal. These efforts have played on preexisting tensions and the vulnerability of open societies to foreign manipulation in an era of popular anger, fake news, and widespread dependence on social media.

Russia’s Growing State-Sponsored Propaganda Apparatus

2005

RT International TV is established

24/7 news channel providing a “Russian viewpoint on major global events”

2007

Russia Beyond the Headlines is established

Produced by Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the Kremlin’s paper of record, with content in thirteen languages

RT Arabic TV is established

24/7 news channel in Arabic broadcasting from Moscow

RT’s first YouTube channel is launched

2008

RT Arabic YouTube channel is launched

2009

RT en Español TV is established

24/7 Spanish-language news channel broadcasting from Moscow with correspondents in Buenos Aires, Caracas, Havana, Madrid, Mexico City, Miami, and Washington, DC

RT begins broadcasting in Canada

RT en Español YouTube channel is launched

2010

RT America TV is established

24/7 news channel broadcasting from Washington, DC

RT America YouTube channel is launched

Russia Today is rebranded as RT and begins “Question More” advertising campaign in the United States and UK

2011

RT in Russian YouTube channel is launched

2013

RUPTLY is established

RT-affiliated video news agency based in Berlin

Rossiya Segodnya is established by Kremlin decree

Led by pro-Kremlin media personality Dmitry Kiselyov, the state-run media conglomerate united RIA Novosti and Voice of Russia radio to increase Russia’s global media presence

2014

Sputnik News replaces RIA Novosti

Sputnik News replaces RIA Novosti as Russia’s international news agency with content in over thirty languages (including Abkhaz, Arabic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Belarusian, Chinese, Czech, Dari, English, Estonian, French, Georgian, German, Italian, Japanese, Kazakh, Kurdish, Kyrgyz, Latvian, Lithuanian, Moldovan, Ossetian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish, Tajik, Turkish, Uzbek, and Vietnamese)

RT UK TV is established

24/7 news channel broadcasting from London

RT Deutsch is established

RT’s German-language online platform

RT France, RT UK, and RT Deutsch YouTube channels are launched

2015

RT en Français is established

RT’s French-language online platform

RT Chinese YouTube channel is launched

2017

RT France TV is established

24/7 news channel broadcasting from Paris

2018

RT Deutsch TV to be established

News channel planned as early as 2018

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