Our Take

The recent U.S. warning that Russia was planning to use a fake video to frame Ukraine for starting a war was credible and effective–despite the U.S. government’s poor job explaining the accusation, Research Assistant Joseph Bodnar writes on ASD’s Interference Matters blog. 

The United States and its allies have done a good job exposing Russian disinformation recently, but there’s room to improve information sharing and to better coordinate counter-disinformation messaging, Senior Fellow Bret Schafer said at a GMF event on countering Russian disinformation in Ukraine.

The OSCE can and should do more to support states reckoning with the security vulnerabilities generated by corruption. Cameron Bertron lays out five reforms the OSCE can implement to combat corruption in a new piece for ASD.

Hamilton 2.0 Analysis

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

  • Ukraine: Russian propagandists reiterated Moscow’s call for a diplomatic solution in Ukraine, while accusing the West of conducting “information war” and trying to discredit U.S. warnings about Russian disinformation.
  • Russia-China: State media amplified an article by President Vladimir Putin, which called Russia-China relations “a model of efficiency,” and circulated a statement by Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, which declared a “new era” guided by Sino-Russian values.
  • RT under fire: Russian officials said Germany’s decision to ban RT’s German-language channel was an “infringement” on free speech, criticized a French investigation into RT France, and claimed the West had “declared a real war” on Russian state media.  

Chinese diplomats and state media last week focused on two main stories: 

  • Olympics: Chinese officials and state media focused heavily on the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, lifting up posts about foreign leaders attending the games and criticizing foreign media’s alleged anti-China bias.   
  • China-Russia: Chinese propagandists closely covered Putin’s trip to Beijing, and the idea that the United States and NATO are pushing for war in Ukraine is becoming entrenched in Chinese diplomats and state media’s takes on the crisis. 

Read the full report here

News and Commentary

Putin and Xi stress unity amid tensions with the West: On February 4, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Beijing, where they issued a joint statement criticizing the United States and its alliances, promising new leadership in a changing world, and highlighting their solidarity on contentious geopolitical issues, including Taiwan and NATO expansion. Co-Director Zack Cooper said, “It is quite remarkable to see Russia and China together calling for ‘justice, democracy, and freedom’ while engaging in repression, authoritarianism, and state control. In this statement, they criticize others for ‘interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states’ despite Russia preparing to invade Ukraine. This statement shows the hypocrisy of these two regimes and demonstrates why the United States needs to work closely with like-minded partners in Europe, Asia, and beyond to push back against these misleading narratives.”

Kremlin retaliates against German media after RT Deutsch ban: Moscow announced retaliatory measures against the international German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), which included terminating its broadcasting capacity, closing its Moscow office, and revoking the press credentials of all its staff, after Germany’s media regulator banned the German-language service of the Russian state broadcaster RT. Senior Fellow Bret Schafer said, After German regulators took action against RT Deutsch last week, retaliatory measures against DW were almost a given, as the Kremlin has always perverted the idea of reciprocity. But given that RT Deutsch had far more influence in Germany than DW has in Russia (particularly online), Moscow is likely going to be on the losing end of its latest attempt at ‘tit-for-tat’ diplomacy.”

In Case You Missed It 

  • The House passed the sweeping America COMPETES Act, which would invest in domestic semiconductor manufacturing, improve critical supply chains, and fund scientific research to better compete with China. 
  • Cybersecurity firm Mandiant linked China to a cyberattack targeting the emails and documents of journalists at News Corps. 
  • A Russia-linked hacking group, Gamaredon, may be behind a recent series of cyberattacks targeting Ukrainian institutions, according to Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42.
  • The U.S. State Department is offering a $10 million reward in exchange for information on two Iranian hackers who allegedly participated in an operation to interfere in the 2020 election. 
  • The Department of Homeland Security announced the creation of a new Cyber Safety Review Board, which will allow public and private sector experts to analyze significant cyber incidents and recommend improvements.
  • An Israeli disinformation watchdog uncovered a suspected Iranian disinformation unit that posed as an ultra-Orthodox Jewish news group in an effort to amplify divisions with Palestinians on social media. 

ASD in the News

Germany’s Ukraine dilemma. Senior Fellow Kristine Berzina interviewed on BBC World Business Report

What happens to European energy supplies if Russia invades Ukraine? Senior Fellow Kristine Berzina interviewed on The World

Seeking to counter China on chips, Congress gets stuck fighting itself. Senior Fellow Bret Schafer quoted in Christian Science Monitor

China In Eurasia Briefing: Xi’s Diplomatic Olympics. Research Analyst Etienne Soula quoted in RFE/RL

Elections in the Americas, Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine on a panel at the Association of European Election Officials’ Global Elections Day Summit

The Biden Doctrine: Muddling Through? Co-Director Zack Cooper co-hosted War on the Rocks’ Net Assessment Podcast

Quote of the Week

“If Russia does choose to move forward, not only will it come at a strategic cost to Russia, but if China is seen as having supported it, it will come at some costs to China as well in the eyes of the world, in the eyes of Europe and in the eyes of other countries who are looking on now and sending a clear message that they would prefer to see diplomacy over war.” 

  • U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on February 6, 2022.

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