Information Warfare · Russia

The Daily Vertical: Absurdity Can Be Deadly

I have never commented on a Brian Whitmore article before, but now I must.

 I’ve been reviewing articles in Russian for most of the day, today.  For the most part, Western English-language media is consumed with the French election, when it comes to Russia, and not much else. Russian language media, however, is full of an avalanche of hysteria, fear-mongering, and other outrageous claims – as Brian points out. 

I didn’t think much of it until I read Brian’s piece here. He highlights that Russia is no longer attacking the West in English but deliberately avoiding English and using Russian and native languages. 

This deals with a multitude of problems at once, the most of which is if a Congressman asks a Russian Information Warfare expert, “what is Russia doing now?”  The expert can only respond that they are no longer attacking the West in English.  At least, not until the next crisis, the next election, the next opportunity to train all Russian information warfare tools on the West.  

*whew* Congress avoids that bullet, and they can declare “crisis averted”, and devote no more resources to counter-Russian Information Warfare. At least until the next set of hearings following the next Russian IW ‘event’. 

Congress needs to see the bigger picture, the bigger threat of Russia to the rest of the world. Russia is a threat. Russia is going to remain a threat. Russia will be a threat into the foreseeable future.  

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May 04, 2017 10:02 UTC

Brian Whitmore

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

So have you heard? NATO is recruiting Russian speakers in Latvia to use as guinea pigs for psychological and biological experiments.

German soldiers are assaulting women in Lithuania. And troops from the Western alliance are apparently taking LSD to prepare for an invasion of Russia.

What? You haven’t heard these things?

Well you would have learned all about them had you been reading the Russian-language media in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Welcome to the weird, weird world of the Kremlin’s active measures and disinformation in the Baltics.

WATCH Today’s Daily Vertical

As thousands of American, British, Canadian, and German troops deploy on NATO’s eastern frontier in an effort to bolster the security of Poland and the Baltic states, the Kremlin is turning the volume on its propaganda machine all the way up to 11.

According to Martins Kaprans of the Center for European Policy Analysis, Moscow is using a “digital archipelago” of pro-Kremlin websites to attack NATO on a daily basis.

And sure, the claims are implausible, over the top, and quite frankly pretty ridiculous.

And no, they are not going to convince most people, or even most Russian-speakers.

But here’s the thing. They don’t need to convince most people.

They just need to get enough people fearful and riled-up enough to spark an incident and provoke a crisis down the road, whenever it suits the Kremlin’s purposes.

So yeah, the Kremlin’s anti-NATO propaganda effort in the Baltics is indeed absurd.

But as we learned from Russia’s disinformation campaign in Ukraine, absurdity can also be deadly.

Keep telling me what you think on The Power Vertical’s Twitter feed and on ourFacebook page.