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Our Takes

Other countries’ strategies to combat election interference are difficult to adopt in the United States due to political division and generally lower trust in government, Co-Managing Director David Salvo told NBC News.

Selectively edited videos of US President Joe Biden appearing lost at the G7 summit and elsewhere are examples of an “old-fashioned, sort of low-level kind of manipulation that has been perfectly capable of misleading and manipulating people” for a long time, Senior Fellow Bret Schafer told The Guardian.

Hamilton 2.0 Analysis

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

  • Ukraine Peace Summit: Russian messengers ridiculed the Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland last week, with state media calling it “window dressing” and a Russian parliamentarian referring to it as a “nudist party”. Multiple embassies also shared a meme of a cartoon character pushing a wheelbarrow full of cash with a caption reading, “Zelensky after the peace conference in Switzerland”. Meanwhile, state media lauded Russian President Vladmir Putin’s peace proposal as a “golden opportunity and lifeline” for Ukraine and amplified friendly foreign voices who called it a “glimmer of hope” and something that “must be applauded”.
  • Pentagon Anti-Vaccine Campaign: Russian state media outlets targeting audiences from countries as diverse as Brazil, Türkiye, and Germany covered a Reuters report last week that exposed a covert US military influence campaign to denigrate Chinese-made vaccines in the Philippines. But the most active Russian outlet, unsurprisingly, was Sputnik China, which published at least ten different articles about the exposé. Russian outlets claimed that the influence campaign is proof that the United States “treat[s] other countries and their peoples as pawns” and that the United States only “pays lip service to respecting human rights”. None of the reports mentioned that both the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Russia conducted similar campaigns to discredit Western-produced vaccines.

The PRC’s diplomats and state media focused on two main narratives this week:

  • The G7: On Monday June 17, the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) criticized the G7’s Leaders’ communiqué that called out Beijing’s behavior on Taiwan, in the South China Sea, and on other issues. On Facebook, PRC embassies in France and Cyprus, along with English and Arabic-language state media, amplified the MFA’s attacks, denouncing a statement they found “full of arrogance and prejudice”. The Global Times simultaneously mocked the group’s supposed lack of legitimacy and dismissed the invitation extended to large Global South countries to attend the meeting. On Instagram, diplomats and state media highlighted protests in the small Italian city that hosted the gathering.
  • Electric Vehicle Tariffs: PRC messaging denounced planned EU tariffs on electric vehicles produced in China as “blatant trade protectionism” and promised countermeasures. On Facebook, PRC embassies in France and Cyprus quoted German business leaders who opposed the European measures, while the PRC embassy in Estonia warned that they would harm the EU’s green agenda. CGTN affiliate T-House blamed “the United States and politicians” and said that European automakers need to improve “self-competitiveness” in the face of “invasive species”. The MFA and state media also called out Turkish tariffs on Chinese vehicles. The MFA was far more conciliatory toward Latin American tariffs on Chinese steel.

News and Commentary

Georgia police training body requires election training for officers: The Georgia Police Officer Training and Standards Council voted to mandate election laws training for police officers, including a course on protections against voter intimidation, election interference, and threats to election security, making Georgia the first US state in which police officers will be required to complete such a course. Co-Managing Director Rachael Dean Wilson told the Dispatch, “At a time when election workers are increasingly targets of harassment and threats, cooperation with law enforcement is critical. The Georgia Police Officer Training and Standards Council took an important step in solidifying their support for election workers by mandating that election law be a part of basic training for the state’s police officers. It’s important that this training: (1) increases understanding of the election law—what law enforcement’s role is and is not; and (2) lays the groundwork for building relationships with election officials before they really need them. Such efforts will benefit election workers and voters alike, and, ultimately, help ensure November’s elections are safe and secure.” 

Large AI chatbots cite pro-Kremlin sites in response to questions: Leading artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots—including OpenAI’s ChatGPT-4, Meta AI, and Google’s Gemini—responded to questions one third of the time with pro-Kremlin narratives, citing known pro-Kremlin disinformation sites, according to a NewsGuard study. Co-Managing Director David Salvo said, “ASD at GMF has done a lot of research into search engine optimization, where Russian and other state-sponsored media appear in top search results across search engines, giving their narratives—or, at times, outright disinformation—the veneer of credibility. Now, you have a similar tactic playing out at potentially larger scale on leading AI platforms, where algorithmic biases are somehow presenting Russian propaganda and disinformation as fact. Think about the implications that could have around Election Day. Scary stuff.” 

In Case You Missed It

  • Russian online disinformation network Doppelgänger published approximately 120,000 posts on social media that falsely attributed anti-Ukraine quotes to celebrities—from Elton John to Lionel Messi—according to a study.
  • Amazon’s Alexa does not reliably offer a direct answer when asked who won the 2020 US presidential election, while other leading AI chatbots either refused to answer or responded correctly, according to the Washington Post.
  • Hundreds of state and local officials in Connecticut participated in an election security scenario planning drill to increase preparedness for potential disruptions on Election Day.
  • US Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner said that the US intelligence community has “not seen much” Russian interference activity yet targeting the upcoming British general election.
  • A bipartisan pair of US House lawmakers proposed legislation to require US agencies to deliver a report to Congress about critical infrastructure sectors’ readiness to switch to manual operations if targeted by a cyberattack.

ASD in the News

America’s election year battle over who polices online disinformation. Senior Fellow Bret Schafer quoted in Financial Times

EU tariffs on EVs sting China but won’t halt BYD’s advance. Research Analyst Etienne Soula quoted in CNN Business

Peace Summit in Switzerland. Co-Managing Director David Salvo interviewed on Russian Service of VOA

OSINT news: Stolen cars and using AI in OSINT research. ASD research/“The Russian Propaganda Nesting Doll” cited and quoted in Authentic8

Quote of the Week

The threat to our democracy from espionage, sabotage, disinformation and cyberattacks has reached a new dimension.”


—German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, warning of growing espionage and cyber threats from Russia, the PRC, Iran, and others, during a presentation of a German intelligence report on June 18.

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