• The Russia connectionTracking illicit Russian financial flows

    By Joshua Kirschenbaum

    Trillions of dollars in capital flows into the United States annually, and trillions of dollars in payments are cleared through New York daily. No one knows exactly whom the funds belong to, where they are held, or how they are deployed. No one knows because the U.S. government does not track the money — but it could if it wanted to. What is known is that Russia, other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, and China are the primary drivers of non-transparent capital flows worldwide.

  • The Russia connectionNew strategies for countering Russian social media influence in Eastern Europe

    Russia is waging a social media campaign in the Baltics, Ukraine, and nearby states to sow dissent against neighboring governments, as well as NATO and the European Union. “Nowhere is this threat more tangible than in Ukraine, which has been an active propaganda battleground since the 2014 Ukrainian revolution,” said the lead author of a new RAND report. “Other countries in the region look at Russia’s actions and annexation of Crimea and recognize the need to pay careful attention to Russia’s propaganda campaign.”

  • The Russia connectionIt’s not just Facebook: Countering Russia’s social media offensive

    By Bradley Hanlon

    Russian influence operations exploit the vulnerabilities of social media platforms to disseminate false narratives and amplify divisive content in order to undermine democracies, divide societies, and weaken Western alliances. In conducting these operations, the Kremlin employs a variety of tools across the social media space, including fake accounts/personas, political advertisements, bot networks, and traditional propaganda outlets. Additionally, Russian influence operations utilize a range of social media platforms, each with a different role, to distract public discussion, foment social unrest, and muddle the truth.

  • Truth decayAlgorithm identifies fake users on many social networks

    Researchers have developed a new generic method to detect fake accounts on most types of social networks, including Facebook and Twitter. The new method is based on the assumption that fake accounts tend to establish improbable links to other users in the networks.

  • The Russia connectionRussian investigative reporter dies after fall from window; editor rejects suicide

    Russian investigative journalist Maksim Borodin has died of injuries sustained on 12 April when he fell from the window of his fifth-floor apartment. Borodin regularly wrote on crime and corruption, and recently wrote extensively about the deaths in February of Russian mercenaries fighting in Syria.

  • The Russia connectionBroad action required to combat disinformation on social media: Experts

    The business model of American social media allows foreign adversaries to exploit our open society by spreading disinformation and amplifying disagreements, turning citizens against one another, speakers said at a Princeton University forum. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, said that taken as a whole, the cyberattacks during the 2016 presidential election have a lot in common with 9/11 — an attack from an unexpected direction, exploiting a previously unknown weakness. The nation rallied in response to the 2001 attacks in large part because President George W. Bush set the tone, he said. “We gotta go extraordinary,” Hayden said about the cyberattacks. “We as a nation don’t go extraordinary unless the president says ‘do it’,” and so far, that hasn’t happened, Hayden said.

  • The Russia connectionRussia tested using door handles to deliver nerve agent before its agents attacked Skripal

    The U.K. on Friday released previously classified intelligence that show that Russia had tested whether door handles could be used to deliver nerve agents and had targeted the email accounts of Sergei and Yulia Skripal since at least 2013. The information about the door handle and email was made in a letter from Sir Mark Sedwill, the U.K.’s national security adviser, to NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg. It is highly unusual for the U.K. to make such intelligence public, but the U.K. government appears to have concluded that such a move was necessary to counter the effective lies-and-disinformation campaign Russia has been conducting in an effort to deny its operatives has poisoned Skripel and his daughter.

  • Direct-force replacementFake news and subversion: Waging war without firing a single shot

    Propaganda by way of “fake news” is one way a nation can wage war without firing a single shot. Another is through tactics of subversion and coercion, in which a country intentionally keeps neighboring countries weak in order to advance its own foreign policy interests. “Think of this as a replacement for direct force and warfare of another kind. Countries can advance their own interests without using direct force or taking over territory,” says a researcher.

  • The Russia connectionRuble falls further, Russian officials seek to calm nerves

    The Russian ruble is falling for a second straight day following the imposition of new U.S. sanctions, while the Central Bank chief and other officials are seeking to calm investors in the wake of a big sell-off in shares of Russian companies a day earlier.

  • The Russia connectionThe oligarch designations: Assets in the West are on the table

    By Joshua Kirschenbaum

    The 6 April decision to freeze the assets of seven Russian oligarchs on 6 April raises the stakes of the Russia sanctions program, as it targets individuals and their companies who hold large investments in the West and who have important relationships with Western businesses and financial institutions — and who are in Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

  • Truth decayThe ruse of “fake news”

    By Peter Reuell

    As Americans increasingly turn to social media as their primary source for news and information, the dangers posed by the phenomenon of “fake news” are growing. Researchers want to use science to combat techniques that can make the true seem false, and the reverse.

  • Political warfareHow the U.S. can better counter political warfare

    Political warfare is a term often used to describe measures that fall short of conventional warfare. These can include political, informational, military and economic measures to influence, coerce, intimidate or undermine U.S. interests or those of friends and allies. These efforts can include cyber warfare, propaganda and disinformation campaigns, economic sanctions and even a Russian state-sponsored biker gang. The United States needs to improve the ways it combats adversaries adept at using political warfare tactics to achieve their goals and undermine U.S. interests and allies, according to a new RAND study.

  • The Russia connectionOutgoing U.S. national security adviser: West has “failed to impose sufficient costs” on Russia

    Outgoing White House national security adviser H. R. McMaster has called for stronger measures against Russian “threats” and “provocations,” arguing that Russian President Vladimir Putin is mistaken in thinking the West will not push back against the Kremlin’s “hybrid warfare.” The comments were some of the strongest to date on Russia by McMaster, whose last day at the White House will be next week.

  • The Russia connectionGen. H. R. McMaster: "The Kremlin’s confidence is growing

    In a speech at the Atlantic Council on Tuesday, 3 April, the outgoing national security adviser Gen. H. R. McMaster said that “Russia has used old and new forms of aggression to undermine our open societies and the foundations of international peace and stability.” He said that Western countries have been “targeted by Russia’s so-called hybrid warfare, a pernicious form of aggression that combines political, economic, informational, and cyber assaults against sovereign nations.  Russia employs sophisticated strategies deliberately designed to achieve objectives while falling below the target state’s threshold for a military response.  Tactics include infiltrating social media, spreading propaganda, weaponizing information, and using other forms of subversion and espionage.” McMsster added: “The Kremlin’s confidence is growing.”

  • Considered opinion Russia's influence is much more than propaganda and fake news

    By Vincent Charles Keating and Katarzyna Kaczmarska

    This liberal bias of Western political culture has led the majority of Russia-commentators to miss something which is in plain sight: that Russia’s conservative values are increasingly attractive among populist groups in the West, and that this attraction is doing what soft power is supposed to do: generating support for Russia’s foreign policy. The ideological attraction of the values put forward by the Russian regime cross several categories, including moral conservatism, illiberal governance, and strong leadership. This means that Russian propaganda is not simply being delivered to a uniform audience that needs to be convinced or confused: it is being delivered to a differentiated audience, some of whom – on the populist, far-right side of the spectrum — will buy into the messages put out by the Russian regime because it conforms with their ideological values. Countering Russian influence in the West is thus not simply a matter of fact-checking to counter the propaganda efforts: with populist, far-right movements the problem is fundamentally ideological.