Last evening I had dinner with four Members of Parliament (MP) from Ukraine. Wow is an understatement!
It is actually called the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Верхо́вна Ра́да Украї́ни, Ukrainian abbreviation ВРУ; literally Supreme Council of Ukraine), often simply Verkhovna Rada or just Rada, the unicameral parliament of Ukraine..
Dinner was delayed due to severe thunderstorms, flooding, and heavy traffic, but we settled down in a wonderful Belgian Restaurant, Belga Café, quite near the Capitol building in Washington DC.
I need to give a brief bit of history before proceeding, about the Ministry of Information Policy (Ukrainian: Міністерство інформаційної політики; abbreviated MIP). The MIP was founded on 2 December 2014. Shortly after I was contacted and I produced a “National Information Strategy for Ukraine” on their behalf. After various corrections, I submitted the last version on 2 January 2014. It was apparent, however, that their interest was in cyber only, which is only one of many aspects of ‘information operations’.
If you have followed events in Ukraine, you may have noticed Russia has attacked Ukraine almost continuously in cyberspace. You will certainly have noticed, however, continuous, overwhelming, and devastating Russian Information Warfare attacks against Ukraine, against all the nations of Europe, against all the alliances, indeed, against the West (my thanks to Torsti Sirén for teaching me that as a concept, not just geography).
I was unsure what they knew about me, so I first related the story that a Russian attorney and troll, Yana Dianova, in Moscow, Russia, had my profile removed on LinkedIn (she absurdly claims innocence, even though she publicly threatened me). All the MPs agreed that alone proved my bona fides. Thanks, Yana! Russia loves me… *grin* That, plus I have worked, quite literally, for years with Christina, to educate as many as possible of Russia’s treacherous nature and actions.
Then we moved on to the fun part for me, countering Russian Information Warfare.
They explained to me how the MIP had been discussed in the Rada at length. There are discussions even now, they said, of the quality of what the MIP does. I hesitate to share what I consider sensitive information, so I shall stop here.
I then explained I had supplied the MIP with a Ukrainian National Strategy for Information in early January 2015, and it was quite literally ignored, choosing instead to focus on cyber.
We also discussed various voluntary and NGO funded efforts, such as Inform Napalm, Stop Fake.org, and how these efforts are very effective but, collectively, fall short of what is necessary. We also briefly discussed the video, my favorite, I am a Ukrainian. It starred Yulia Marushevska, who later went on a Ukraine promotion tour (including in the US which I sadly could not attend). I regarded these as shining examples of not only promoting Ukraine, but extremely effective ways of countering Russian propaganda.
Towards the end of the dinner, I was asked to provide them with copies of my strategy, again. I agreed, with the proviso that they make it their own. The strategy is designed to be an overall strategy which Ukraine should change and make their own, as some parts might be too controversial (fighting corruption) and other parts might be not well understood.
I hope to work with or in Ukraine to start this effort as a model for the rest of Europe, indeed, for the rest of the world, on countering Russian Information Warfare. I have everything they need. They have many of the necessary parts, already, to once and for all, stand up against the Russian bear and win.
Slava Ukrayini! Heroyam slava! Слава Україні! Героям слава! Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!