The Russia watchRussia & social media; Russian Brexit influence; Obama weak Russia response, and more

Published 21 June 2018

•  Timeline: Trump’s acts of accommodation/engagement with Russia, Nov. 2016-June 2018

  A conversation with Clint Watts on influence and information in the social media era

  Russian influence in the Brexit vote? We don’t really know how to deal with that

  How to tackle “weapons of mass disinformation – WMD for the modern age”

  Others emulate Russia’s influence campaigns

  Obama criticized in Senate for not doing more on Russia meddling

  West vs Russia: winning hearts and minds in the Western Balkans and EAP Countries

  Russian-linked group tied to Winter Olympics attack is now targeting biochemical researchers

  Hackers who sabotaged the Olympic games return for more mischief

Timeline: Trump’s acts of accommodation/engagement with Russia, Nov. 2016-June 2018 (Just Security)
President Donald Trump’s comments and actions in relation to Russia – and especially toward President Vladimir Putin — are strikingly conciliatory considering Moscow’s documented attacks on America’s democracy and its repeated violations of international norms and repression at home. Certainly some U.S. measures under the Trump administration have been contrary to Russian interests if not punitive, including some implementation of sanctions legislation. But Trump signed the sanctions legislation reluctantly, and overall his comments and actions have demonstrated a desire to embrace Russia.
In the past, Just Security published a timeline called, “Russian Provocations and Dangerous Acts since January 20, 2017.” The new timeline below chronicles publicly reported Trump comments and actions toward Russia since the 2016 U.S. presidential election—whether accommodationist or adversarial or defying easy classification. Some may view certain steps as acts of rapprochement aimed at a more cooperative relationship with Russia to fight common enemies and avoid dangerous escalation. Other observers will see the acts as incriminating evidence of a quid pro quo or a dangerous appeasement to an adversary who attacked and continues to attack America’s democratic institutions.

A conversation with Clint Watts on influence and information in the social media era (Usha Sahay and Clint Watts, War on the Rocks)
How has our understanding of Russian influence operations evolved since the 2016 election? Just a few days before Trump was elected president, Clint Watts, Andrew Weisburd, and J. M. Berger sounded the alarm in a War on the Rocks article about the Kremlin’s efforts to undermine American democracy (Trolling for Trump: How Russia Is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy, War on the Rocks [6 November 2016]). Since then, the world has learned a lot more about how Russia influenced the election and, more generally, the continued dangers of influence campaigns and information warfare. Clint’s new book, Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake Newsis an effort to help us think through these issues. He recently spoke with Usha about his efforts to track and understand Russian social media trolling, what studying jihadi terrorists taught him about online propaganda, and what the government, tech companies, and the public can do to deal with this difficult problem.