Our Take

In the short term, the war should be seen as a Ukrainian victory and a Russian blunder, but Kyiv will need continued Western support to defend itself, Managing Director David Salvo said on Background Briefing.

Despite China’s assertions that it is not supporting Russia militarily in its war with Ukraine, China should not be seen as a neutral peacebroker, Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman said on BBC World News.

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Hamilton 2.0 Analysis

Russian diplomats and state media focused on three main narratives: 

  • Putin’s speech: Russian state media and diplomats tweeted “Putin” more than 1,000 times on the day of the state of the nation speech, drawing in more than 26,000 retweets and 71,000 likes as they amplified President Vladimir Putin’s attacks on Ukraine and the West.
  • Biden in Ukraine: Russian propagandists framed President Biden’s trip to Kyiv as a provocation, a failed public relations stunt, and proof that Biden cared more about Ukrainians than Americans. State media and diplomats retweeted Republicans who criticized Biden for going to Ukraine while East Palestine, Ohio, deals with the fallout of a chemical spill.
  • Russia-China relations: After Russian and China’s top diplomats met, Kremlin-affiliated accounts touted the “rock solid ties” between the two countries as they seek to usher in a “more just” world order. Moscow-funded outlets showcased Beijing’s accusation that the West was “fueling the fire” in Ukraine, and they highlighted Moscow’s support for China’s approach to major issues, including around Taiwan and Xinjiang.     

Chinese diplomats and state media focused on three main topics:

  • Russia-China relations: Chinese diplomats and state media promoted China’s top diplomat Wang Yi’s visit to Moscow, during which he reaffirmed China’s intention to “deepen its strategic partnership” with Russia. This comes on top of Chinese state media’s extensive coverage, in Europe, Africa, and Latin America, of the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s anti-Western state of the nation speech.
  • Biden in Ukraine: Chinese state media portrayed President Joe Biden’s trip and his promise to deliver more aid to Ukraine as an escalation. They also argued that he made peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow more unlikely.
  • Beijing’s take on global security: Chinese messaging attacked US “hegemony” and “plunder” with extraordinary vehemence over the past week. In parallel to these attacks, Chinese diplomats around the world also promoted Beijing’s latest concept paper for a new global security architecture, which they argue demonstrates “China’s sense of responsibility for safeguarding world peace”.

News and Commentary

China sought to divide parliament in Canada’s 2021 elections: China attempted to usher in a divided and ineffective Canadian government by interfering in the country’s 2021 elections through covert cash payments to campaigns and by assigning Chinese students to volunteer for candidates, according to Canadian government documents. Research Analyst Etienne Soula told the Dispatch, “The latest reports of Chinese interference in Canadian elections fit into a broader pattern of disregard for, and in many cases, of active disruption of, democratic processes by the Chinese state. More countries around the Atlantic, and beyond, should follow Canada’s example and investigate, and ideally publicize, Chinese efforts to deploy malign finance and other asymmetric tactics to stalemate democratic institutions.”

Former Ariz. attorney general hid report debunking voter fraud claims: Then-Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich kept private a March 2022 report that found claims of errors in Maricopa County’s 2020 election were unfounded, instead releasing an “interim report” the following month claiming the county’s election system was vulnerable and ignoring the annotations left by the investigators. Managing Director Rachael Dean Wilson said, “It’s important to note that former Arizona Attorney General Brnovich quickly affirmed the election results in 2020 and resisted efforts to overturn the election. That being said, this latest news further exposes the choices made by some Arizona Republicans to fuel conspiracy theories they knew to be false and withhold accurate information that could help rebuild trust in elections in the hopes of winning or keeping political power. Leadership matters, and when it lacks integrity, the long list of losers includes candidates, voters, and democracy.”

Pro-Russia accounts increase engagement using Twitter’s paid verification: Accounts spreading pro-Russian disinformation, including one retweeted by Elon Musk, have appeared more prominently on the site after purchasing blue check-mark verification under Twitter’s new paid verification system, according to the research group Reset. Research Analyst Joseph Bodnar said, “Twitter’s verification-via-credit card scheme is low hanging fruit for bad actors who want the prestige of a check mark and the extra reach that comes with it. For the low price of $8 a month, users can push disinformation with an account that appears as legitimate as a New York Times reporter’s account. Reset highlighted a small group of pro-Russian accounts taking advantage of this feature. But the abuse is almost certainly more widespread. And it’s unlikely that the Kremlin’s allies are the only ones exploiting the system.” 

In Case You Missed It

  • Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy gave Fox News host Tucker Carlson exclusive access to US Capitol security footage from the January 6 insurrection, despite Carlson’s record of spreading conspiracies about the riot.
  • Between 2020 and 2022, there were 73 instances where China applied economic pressure against 19 countries and the EU, according to a new report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
  • The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases with potential implications for a law that protects online platforms from liability for their users’ posts.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping is reportedly planning to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in the coming months, following US accusations that China might supply Russia with weapons and other lethal support.
  • The European Commission banned TikTok on official staff devices and from personal devices if work apps are installed, citing security reasons.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador signed a law that curtails the powers and budget of the country’s independent election watchdog, which has been seen as a vital player in the country’s democratic development.

ASD in the News

New ‘strike force’ tasked with safeguarding US tech. Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman quoted in Breaking Defense

Is Generative AI Underhyped?  Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman quoted in truepic

Disinformation Campaigns Against Women Are a National Security Threat, New Study Finds. ASD research highlighted in Time

How to confront China. Former China Affairs Analyst Bryce Barros quoted in Newsweek

Russia’s information war against Ukraine went stealth after Meta crackdown. ASD research highlighted in Cyberscoop

Next Level Partnership Bolstering EU-NATO Cooperation to Counter Hybrid Threats in The Western Balkans. ASD research cited in European Union Institute for Security Studies

Quote of the Week

“There should be no doubt: Our support for Ukraine will not waver, NATO will not be divided, and we will not tire. President Putin’s craven lust for land and power will fail. And the Ukrainian people’s love for their country will prevail.”

  • US President Joe Biden said during a speech in Warsaw, Poland on February 21, ahead of the one-year mark of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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