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Hamilton 2.0 Analysis

Russian diplomats and state media last week focused on three main topics:

  • Ukraine: Russian propagandists pushed aggressive commentary around the conflict in Ukraine, suggesting a renewed war could break out that Russia would win
  • Migrant crisis: Moscow-backed media promoted familiar narratives around the Belarusian-orchestrated migrant crisis, highlighting the harsh conditions migrants face and calling on the EU to address the problem. 
  • Summit for Democracy: Russian officials and state-funded outlets teamed up with their Chinese counterparts to campaign against the Summit for Democracy, arguing the summit would “provoke division and confrontation.”

Chinese diplomats and state media last week covered the following storylines:

  • Democracy: Alongside attacks against the Summit for Democracy, Chinese officials and state media portrayed U.S. democracy as flawed and chaotic.  
  • Lithuania: Chinese diplomats denounced Lithuania’s decision to open a representative office in Taiwan, with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs calling on Lithuania to “immediately put right its mistake.” 
  • Peng Shuai: Beijing-backed media continued to insist that tennis star Peng Shuai is safe. CGTN covered the International Olympic Committee president’s call with Peng in multiple languages

Iranian diplomats and state media focused on one main story:

  • Nuclear deal: Iranian officials and state media were somewhat optimistic about negotiations over their nuclear program, with Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian stating that Iran will enter talks “in good faith and seeks a good and verifiable agreement.”      

Read the full report here.

News and Commentary

Biden administration and Germany urge Congress against Nord Stream 2 sanctions: The Biden administration and the German government pushed members of Congress not to sanction Nord Stream 2 and entities involved in the pipeline’s construction in the annual U.S. defense spending bill. ASD Senior Fellow Kristine Berzina said, “The United States needs to strike a balance between deterring a Russian military invasion in Ukraine, managing frail ties to Germany, and figuring out how to address Europe’s energy dependence on Russia. Is it helpful for the U.S. to have flexibility right now on Nord Stream 2 to manage a worse evil such as another Russian invasion? Perhaps. But being soft on Nord Stream 2 would mean accepting Russia’s energy influence in Europe for decades to come.” 

Australian prime minister proposes bill targeting troll anonymity on social media: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will introduce legislation that would authorize courts to force social media companies to disclose troll identities to assist in defamation cases. ASD  Senior Fellow Bret Schafer told the Dispatch, “While it may seem logical that there is a  correlation between anonymity and abusive behavior online, empirical evidence suggests  otherwise. Moreover, removing online anonymity would have a chilling effect on the ability of  vulnerable groups to communicate online—not just in repressive societies but in democratic ones  as well.”  

Israel and Iran’s escalating cyberattacks target civilians: Israel and Iran are increasingly directing cyberattacks against civilians, with targets ranging from Iranian gas stations to an Israeli LGBTQ dating site, as the cyber conflict between the two countries escalates. ASD Cybersecurity Fellow Maurice Turner explained the implications to the Dispatch: “The intensifying attacks on critical infrastructure entities provide a glimpse into the future of warfare when the effects are felt more directly by the public but the physical damage is significantly limited. Without strong national deterrence strategies and clear global use-of-force escalation  policies, it is unclear when countries facing similar conflicts will begin to retaliate using  sustained cyber disruptions and even kinetic weapons that will result in loss-of-life.” 

In Case You Missed It 

  • Disney+ omitted an episode of The Simpsons that referenced the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre on its recently launched service in Hong Kong. 
  • Airbnb has 14 rental listings in Xinjiang owned by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a large U.S. sanctioned paramilitary organization complicit in the Uyghur genocide, an Axios investigation found
  • The United Kingdom’s independent data privacy authority fined facial recognition firm Clearview AI $22.6 million for illegally compiling billions of photos of people to develop their facial recognition software.  
  • China threatened to fine Taiwanese companies operating in China for funding pro-democracy election campaigns in Taiwan. 
  • Leaders of Europe’s major telecommunication networks want U.S. companies that generate and monetize traffic to invest in the EU’s developing digital network.
  • Israel narrowed its official cyber export list from 102 to 37 countries, restricting the number of countries to which local security companies can sell surveillance and offensive hacking tools.

ASD in the News

What Does Biden’s Democracy Summit Mean? Director Laura Thornton quoted in VOA Turkish

The Talk Between Russia and the U.S. ASD’s Hamilton 2.0 analysis cited in The Cipher Brief

Quote of the Week

“Worldwide democracy is in decline. And there is less trust in democratic institutions. So more than ever, we need to demonstrate the strength of our democratic model. And protect our values. Abroad and at home.” 

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at an event on NATO’s outlook towards 2030 and beyond on November 30, 2021.

The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.