Monday, March 6, 2017

Protecting Falsehoods with a Bodyguard of Lies: Putin´s Use of Information Warfare

Deborah Yarsike Ball for NATO Defense College (NDC),

image from article
Alexander Bastrykin, Head of the Russian Federation Investigations Committee, recently published an alarming article in which he blamed the U.S. for conducting an information warfare campaign aimed at destabilizing Russia, and he outlines strategies for reducing Russia’s vulnerability to color revolutions. While Bastrykin no doubt fears U.S. interference and color revolutions, he also appears to be seeking justification for imposing greater control over the internet. He recommends erecting barriers to the internet and public places with access to the worldwide web. He asserts that U.S. information warfare has “led to the emergence of pro-Western opposition forces inside Russia spreading sectarian and political extremism inside our country.’” Significantly, Bastrykin maintains that it is “particularly urgent” for Russia to erect barriers because of “forthcoming elections” and the possible risk of “forces destabilizing the political situation.” Bastrykin even argues that interethnic conflicts of the 1990s in Georgia- Abkhazia, Ossetia-Ingushetia, and Transndniester were caused by Western information warfare: “what was happening at the moment was recognized as local conflicts. However, now it is already completely obvious that all these clashes were part of the initial, concealed stage of an information war.” He points to an increase in the U.S. federal budget in support of “so-called development of the institutions of democracy in countries bordering Russia and even in the Central Asian states” adding that “the true meaning of these funds becomes obvious from the name of an expenditure called ‘countering Russian aggression through public diplomacy and foreign assistance programs and creating resilience in European governments.’” He adds that the funds are supposedly for education, promotion of civil society and “other outwardly noble goals,” but have become “kindling for anti-Russian sentiments in states adjacent to our country.”

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