In the propaganda war, Russia remains fully committed to conducting information operations around the globe, playing the long game to outlast any unity among Ukraine’s allies and until Ukraine loses its will to fight. Russia is attacking Western public support to fund Ukraine’s defense and it has expanded targeted propaganda efforts in different parts of the world, including Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.

Russia employs disinformation in the form of narrative warfare to justify military action, mask its planning, and deny any responsibility for the war. It relies on its rich toolbox for conducting information operations, including employing coordinated inauthentic networks on social media platforms, exploiting regional grievances with the West, hacking, and forging documents, among other tactics. Russia propagates a combination of old and new narratives to undermine Ukraine domestically and internationally, aiming to discredit its reputation with Western partners and neighboring countries. Additionally, Russia continues to tighten its control over its domestic information space, spread false and misleading narratives to weaken Ukrainian resolve, and present its ongoing case for war via RT and Sputnik, adjusting its messaging to cater to regional audiences, particularly in Latin America and Africa. Russia has also doubled down on eroding cohesion within Ukrainian society.

The Kremlin and its supporters still attempt to shatter Ukraine’s global standing, playing the long game by targeting countries around the world with disinformation and influence campaigns designed to decrease public support and allies’ willingness to send aid.

Russia has a long history of information and influence operations worldwide, making it a formidable opponent constantly seeking to exploit weaknesses or problems within enemy societies. Similarly, Russia abuses the idea of “neutral” media to serve its disinformation alongside reporting of real events, all with an intention to leave viewers with the impression that both versions of events have merit.

The Western world recognizes that RT and Sputnik are instruments of Russian propaganda rather than legitimate media sources. However, those media are still popular and influential in parts of Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa. Moreover, even in the European Union, where those channels are technically blocked, RT circumvents limitations and continues poisoning the media space via smaller mirror sites, effectively “spitting” on Western sanctions. Some channels feature Russian propagandistic content translated into local languages. At the same time, Russia continues using its embassies and diplomats as an extension of its propaganda apparatus, promoting false information, false fact-checking, and conspiracies worldwide. Russia also uses diplomatic events, such as the Russia-Africa Summit, to spread its messages at a more region-specific level.

Russian information and influence operations inside Ukraine and abroad will likely continue to evolve, finding new rifts within societies to deepen and novel approaches to employ. On top of this, 2024 is an election year in dozens of countries where Russia may try to meddle in an effort to push support toward its allies or, at minimum, away from pro-Ukrainian parties. In the least friendly countries, Russia will likely continue to push the idea—through more covert means—that aid to Ukraine is a net loss to those residing in those countries.

Indeed, Russian efforts to date have achieved partial results, like delays in the delivery of military equipment, but they have not stopped Ukraine’s ability to fight back. Ukraine is active in its efforts to counter Russian influence, allotting significant resources to monitoring and pushing back against Russian information operations, and its successes to date might provide the world with some insight into how to counter malign influence.

Given the extent of Russia’s operations and its apparent desire to move global opinion against Ukraine, governments around the world—especially those espousing democratic values—need to consider the potential impact of their decisions around Ukraine as also ultimately being global. More assistance and aid to Ukraine will bolster global democracy, while a reduction in the same will undermine not just Ukraine but democracy as a whole.


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