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Hamilton 2.0 Analysis

Russian diplomats and state media focused on two main narratives this week:  

  • American Mercenaries in Ukraine: Several Russian state media outlets alleged last week that US mercenaries are operating covertly in Ukraine. The most viewed post from monitored Telegram channels was an allegation that a photo taken from the phone of a dead soldier, who pro-Russian sources claimed was “not Ukrainian”, showed a photo of a child who had the motto of the US Rangers written on his back. RIA Novosti further claimed that cemeteries “from Virginia to California” are “overgrown with the graves of mercenaries liquidated in Ukraine”.
  • Burisma’s Role in Terrorist Attack: More than 40 posts from monitored Russian accounts amplified an allegation made by Russia’s Investigative Committee that Burisma—the Ukrainian holding company linked to Hunter Biden, the son of US President Joe Biden—funneled money to those responsible for the Crocus terror attack in Moscow. To bolster this claim, Sputnik quoted an ex-CIA official (and Russian state media regular) who alleged that Burisma is “used to fund covert ops under Biden’s watch”. The allegation is the latest attempt to fuse a Russian conspiracy theory with partisan American politics, following earlier efforts to link Hunter Biden to bioweapons labs in Ukraine. 

The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) diplomats and state media focused on two main narratives this week:

  • Lavrov in Beijing: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was given a five-star welcome on his latest trip to Beijing, culminating in a meeting with PRC President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, an occurrence PRC state media called “a rare opportunity for a foreign minister”. State media outlets promoted the meeting on TelegramFacebookYouTube, Instagram, and X. PRC embassies in IndiaEgypt, and Nigeria highlighted Beijing and Moscow’s shared objective to “unite countries in the Global South”.
  • Yellen in Beijing: While Lavrov’s visit got more positive coverage, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s visit received more attention from state media and diplomats, with her name being mentioned almost twice as much as Lavrov’s on monitored platforms. Despite displeasure with Yellen’s comments about PRC overcapacity in the electric vehicle sector, even the nationalist Global Times called her “pragmatic and less hawkish”. State media overall focused on her more positive message that the United States does not seek to decouple from the PRC. They even took interest in her drinking and dining choices, unusually harmless reporting for a US official.

News and Commentary

EU parties pledge not to spread deepfakes ahead of European Parliament election: The majority of the EU’s political parties signed a voluntary code of conduct to maintain the integrity of the 2024 European Parliament elections, including by refraining from producing or disseminating deceptive images, audio, or video—including content generated by artificial intelligence (AI)—and clearly labeling manipulated content as such. Senior Manager for Europe and Fellow Vassilis Ntousas told the Dispatch, “It is important to see the majority of EU political parties signing up to this, regardless of some exceptions. This is of course a voluntary code of conduct. But this is positive in any case, also considering how long the negotiations took to get there. Nonetheless, political parties at the EU level are umbrella organizations of national parties, and the real test of this will be contingent on whether these parties within each member state adhere to the code and on what happens in cases of non-compliance.”

PRC escalates efforts to sow online discord ahead of US election: PRC-linked online actors have escalated their attempts to deepen polarization among American voters online ahead of the November election, increasingly leveraging AI-generated images and allegedly operating a network of fake social media accounts to poll users about their opinions on contentious political issues such as immigration, drug use, and US foreign assistance, according to a Microsoft investigation. Co-Managing Director Rachael Dean Wilson said, “The idea that PRC- affiliated actors are essentially Twitter (X)-polling Americans for insights on what is most divisive sounds like the set up to a very niche joke. This new report shows that the PRC is committed to using new technology like AI to increase the effectiveness of its online information operations—and that their operations as a whole are increasingly more sophisticated. Looking ahead, we can expect the PRC to use all of the tools at its disposal to attempt to influence elections to their geopolitical benefit—and leaders across sectors need to help build resilience by building awareness.” 

In Case You Missed It

  • The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and FBI have urged local election offices to adopt a “.gov” domain to mitigate impersonation and other cyber risks ahead of the November election.
  • Meta will apply “Made with AI” labels for AI-generated video, audio, and images, and only remove such content if it violates other platform policies come July 2024.
  • The PRC has stepped up support for Russia’s war effort, including by providing microelectronics and intelligence such as satellite imagery to Moscow, US officials warned.
  • CISA will allow private sector organizations to share examples of malware for detailed analysis as part of a program previously only available to the government and military.
  • The Medusa hacking group claimed responsibility for a ransomware attack on a government agency responsible for property valuation in the Fort Worth, Texas area.

ASD in the News

Quote of the Week

“It’s definitely a difficult point … [but] I’m really very satisfied because we are able to defend all systems [from] a successful attack.”
—Martin Kupka, Czechia’s transport minister, told the Financial Times during an interview on April 5 about Russian efforts to sabotage European rail networks.


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