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Hamilton 2.0 Analysis

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

  • Sevastopol Attack: Russian messengers last week promised to retaliate against the United States after a Ukrainian attack on Russian-occupied Crimea left four people dead and more than 100 injured. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that the United States is “waging hybrid war against Russia” and that it had encouraged “pro-Nazi officials in Ukraine to continue fighting until the last Ukrainian”. Multiple Russian embassies labeled the attack a “monstrous terrorist crime” and state media called it a “direct attack on Russia by [the] US and NATO”. Russian state media also highlighted comments from US Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who said after the attack that “the only border that should be protected by the US military is the United States’ own border”.
  • Terrorism in Dagestan: Continuing a trend noted after the Crocus Hall terrorist attack earlier this year, Russian state media blamed the United States for last week’s terrorist attack in the Russian republic of Dagestan that left more than 20 people dead. Sputnik quoted two former US officials (and regular Russian state media contributors) who claimed that it wasn’t “a coincidence that you had the attack in Sevastopol coincide with this series of attacks in Dagestan” and that the attacks were, at a minimum, caused by “CIA incitement”.  Russian intelligence-linked sites also alleged that financing “radical Salafists appears to be Washington’s new bet against Moscow” and that the terrorists were mere “proxies for Western powers”. The Kremlin, for its part, stated that it is “too early to tell” if the terrorist attack in Dagestan was connected to the attack in Sevastopol, though it noted that Russia “has not received messages of condolences from unfriendly countries”.

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

  • South China Sea: Last week, PRC messaging attacked the Philippines over Manila’s defense of its claims in the South China Sea. The PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) accused Manila of “calling white black” and claimed it was violating China’s sovereignty. On Facebook, PRC diplomats in Morocco, the Philippines, and the United States relayed the MFA’s message. State media portrayed Manila as the aggressor in Arabic, Spanish, French, and Russian. In an interview with the Global Times, a former Malaysian Prime Minister warned that Manila should not “go and fight China” or “what happened to Ukraine will happen to the Philippines”.
  • Polish President’s State Visit: PRC diplomats and state media followed Polish president Andrzej Duda’s state visit to China with great interest. The highlight of the visit was a welcome ceremony attended by PRC leader Xi Jinping and promoted by state media on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and on X by diplomats in Poland, France, and Ireland. Apart from general statements about the health of the bilateral relationship, the biggest announcement was that Poles would now be able to visit China without a visa for up to 15 days. The Global Times analyzed that Duda’s visit put EU critics of the PRC “in an awkward position”.

News and Commentary

AI misused for deepfakes more than for textual disinformation, cyberattacks: Generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools have been misused nearly twice as much to create deepfakes and other audio, video, and photo impersonations of politicians and celebrities than to generate textual disinformation and far more often than to help facilitate cyberattacks, according to Google’s DeepMind research lab. Co-Managing Director Rachael Dean Wilson told the Dispatch, “In ASD’s AI Election Security Handbook, we outline a framework for how election officials should think about the AI threat. AI election challenges fall into two big buckets: supercharged disinformation and more sophisticated and scalable cyberattacks. The DeepMind report shows that, for now, most reported generative AI misuse cases fall into the first bucket with the intent to manipulate public opinion. This does not mean, however, that cyberattacks are a non-issue. It could simply mean that the use of AI for cyberattacks is underreported. Election officials—and everyone else—should continue to make cyber trainings and cyber hygiene a priority.”

Russian influence campaign deploys AI to target US election online: The Russian-aligned influence network CopyCop is targeting the 2024 US election online, deploying AI to rewrite content from Russian state media and US right-wing outlets and generate fake author profiles for their publications, as well as registering new websites using US-based hosts, according to Recorded Future. Co-Managing Director David Salvo said, “These findings track with research ASD has published showing that Russian state media content is laundered through fictitious journalists on faux local news sites. Using AI tools to copy and alter content from RT and create profiles of fake American journalists, this network of sites then spreads Russian propaganda to American audiences without Americans being able to understand the provenance of the content. We should anticipate much more of this activity in the months ahead of the presidential election.”

PRC authorities reportedly target French investigative reporters: Two French investigative journalists have allegedly been threatened by PRC authorities following their publication of a documentary about PRC overseas police attempts to forcibly repatriate a Chinese dissident, according to Reporters Without Borders. Research Analyst Etienne Soula said, “For years, authoritarian regimes have pressured, intimidated, and harassed those, especially in diaspora communities, who criticize them, even when those critics live in democracies. Too often, this transnational repression leaves dissidents and activists alone against well-funded security apparatuses operating with impunity outside their borders. It is imperative that decision-makers, law enforcement, and intelligence services step up their efforts to raise costs on the agents of authoritarian regimes operating in democratic societies and to ensure the safety of all those who are simply exercising their civic rights.”

In Case You Missed It

  • The US Supreme Court threw out a lower court’s decision that significantly restricted US government officials’ ability to communicate with social media companies about their content moderation policies.
  • The Russian-linked online disinformation network Doppelgӓnger has promoted an AI-generated video depicting US President Joe Biden as senile and prioritizing migrants and Ukraine over US citizens in at least 25,000 posts across 13 languages.
  • A Chinese-speaking cyberespionage group has targeted at least nine countries’ ministries of foreign affairs and embassies across four continents.
  • The United States and Romania agreed to cooperate more to counter foreign information manipulation, including through enhanced information sharing and societal resilience.
  • A federal grand jury in Maryland indicted a Russian national for allegedly working with Russian intelligence to target Ukrainian military and civilian targets with cyberattacks.
  • Canadian federal agencies have paid social media influencers to promote official guidance on various health issues in order to combat online disinformation.

Quote of the Week

“Being concerned on a daily basis about your own physical safety and the safety of the folks who work for us and the voters who come in to cast their ballots takes a toll.”


—Former Shasta County, Calif. election administrator Cathy Darling Allen, during an interview with CyberScoop about her decision to resign amid threats, published on June 20.

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