Written by Colonel B. Olevsky; Originally appeared at Foreign Military Review 2020 #4, translated by Mona Lita exclusively for SouthFront
The current state of relations between the North Atlantic Alliance and the Russian Federation is characterized by sharp confrontation and is determined by the West’s desire to isolate Russia, weaken its political and economic potential in order to oust it from traditional zones of national interests. In accordance with the decisions of the Warsaw summit of NATO (June 2016), which conceptually secured the course of global containment of the Russian Federation, the leadership of the Alliance identified strategic propaganda as one of the effective means of countering hybrid threats, the main origin of which in recent years has been openly recognized as Russia.
The bloc’s headquarters proceeds from the premise that the large-scale use of “soft power” and high-tech information resources makes it possible to control public consciousness up to the point of changing the value system of the masses and manipulation of information radically changes the perception and behavior of certain groups of people.
This is due to the rapid development of information processing and distribution tools. According to American researchers, more than 70% of the world’s population use mobile communications.
There are more than 1 billion televisions and radios in personal and collective ownership. The number of Internet users merely in the top ten most developed countries of the world exceeded 2.5 billion people.
The power of the Internet was demonstrated during the “color revolutions” in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, when participants in anti-government protests spread “revolutionary ideas” and also coordinated their activities through microblogging and social networks. Another example that characterizes the capabilities of this network was the dissemination of confidential information by the US Department of Defense and government organizations (Edward Snowden, Julian Assange), which negatively affected Washington’s reputation in the world.
Based on this, the general issues of the information world in the field of containment and defense received a detailed justification in a special program document, which was developed by the public diplomacy dept. of the NATO international secretariat and is approved by the ministers of defense of the countries of alliance in June 2017.
The formal reason for the launch of a new information war on the Russian Federation was the holding of the strategic Russian-Belarusian exercises “West-2017”.
The objectives of propaganda within these policies are announced : to discredit Russia’s foreign policy as the main source of threat to security in Europe: ensuring international isolation and reducing Russian influence in the post-Soviet space; contributing in building up coalition military capabilities to respond to hybrid threats; supporting a policy of strategic containment and limited dialogue with Russia. At the same time, certain challenges of information and propaganda support of the anti-Russian course of the West (building up an advanced military presence, countering informational activities, etc.) are detailed in the private regulatory and legal developments of the alliance headquarters.
Present documents are betting on using maximal psychological effect of practical measures of forceful pressure on the Russian Federation.
The highlights among such actions are: demonstration of NATO’s military presence; regrouping of troops and the transfer of military equipment; raising the alarm of combat units; training of nuclear forces command and control bodies and structures supporting them; conducting unscheduled large scale military exercises with provocative scenarios.
The Supreme Commander of NATO’s Joint Armed Forces who is vested with powers to implement persuasive measures of force inhibition has the right, oh his own accord, to introduce an increase in combat readiness of the subordinate forces and to organize various types of operational and combat training activities.
For the purpose of applying psychological pressure on the leadership and population of Russia, the following forms and methods of informational influence are assigned:
- Statements by heads of state and government, foreign ministers and defense ministers (e.g. summit declarations);
- NATO Council meetings on anti-Russian issues;
- dissemination of information materials as part of the containment on the coverage of exercises or other activities;
- selected information statements and interviews with senior representatives of the alliance;
- coordination of anti-Russian operations by allies and demarches at various international forums;
- selection of the place, timing and scenarios of the alliance exercises, the composition of their participants and determining the procedure for informing about them;
- reinforcement of existing or deployment of new groupings of the Allied Forces of NATO and the Armed Forces of the countries bloc participants near the Russian Federation borders (for example, strengthening the forward presence or building up and increasing the level of combat readiness of the NATO high-priority forces);
- the deployment of individual armed components (for example, the interspecific formation of the emergency response of the SPZ, the AWACS system by Avax-NATO aviation, air reconnaissance systems of ground (surface) “Ags” background, tactical nuclear weapons, components of an integrated air defense / missile defense system).
US political strategists do not hesitate to use “arm-twisting” methods when in comes to their allies. A striking example of psychological pressure on European partners happened in January 2019, when the American Ambassador to Germany David Robinson sent a letter to the leadership of leading German companies, which contained explicit threats and a demand to suspend cooperation with Russia on the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. This practice was continued by the White House administration, which in December of the same year imposed economic sanctions against European companies involved in laying Russian gas pipelines across the Baltic and Black Seas.
The general management of strategic propaganda is carried out by the NATO Council and the organization’s Secretary General, which determine the information policy of the bloc and coordinate the efforts of all its members. The military committee of the alliance is responsible for the development and implementation of plans for information war confrontation. It includes a special working group for strategic propaganda, which is entrusted with the solution of the following tasks:
- adjusting the doctrinal and regulatory framework for conducting information and psychological operations, developing recommendations for informing the public about the activities of the NATO Allied Forces;
- analysis of informational background in crisis areas, assessment of the RF actions and other potential adversaries in this space, preparation of proposals for responding to them determining the effectiveness of joint propaganda activities and drawing on additional forces and means, if necessary refining the process of training and retraining of management personnel and experts on info and psychological warfare;
- implementation of strategic propaganda topics into the process of operations and combat training, quality control of the objectives that conquer and maintain information superiority in the face of active enemy.
Public diplomacy is managed through direct advocacy provision of all North Atlantic Alliance activities, which is part of the International Secretariat and is headed by an Assistant Secretary General. In order to collect informational resources, the head of the department was given broad powers to coordinate the activities of all structures involved in the campaign from the NATO Council, The Military Committee and the International Military Staff of the alliance, as well as the involvement of the most authoritative leaders of the organization and the participating countries in advocacy activities.
The department has established close cooperation with all the loyals in the Mainstream media, organizes publication and distribution of printed materials, maintains the information block server on the Internet, and holds mass events covering operations and military policy of the organization.
In order to popularize the Secretary General’s actions and explain the decisions taken by the governing bodies of NATO, briefings and interviews with journalists are held, press conferences and press tours are organized, and demonstration exhibitions are deployed. All loyal journalists are guaranteed access to information resources when covering high-level meetings or events that include State Secretaries.
The Alliance attaches great importance to the development of interpersonal communication, thus the organization holds special events, seminars and conferences with the participation of informal leaders, parliamentarians, representatives of civil public associations and expert communities. Alliance officials interact with academics, think tanks, computer scientists and other experts on NATO matters, assisting them in processing and disseminating information about the organization’s activities.
The main executive organs of strategic propaganda acting against the Russian Federation and its allies are national and coalition forces and information and psychological operations resources, structures of the so-called public diplomacy, military and civilian public relations bodies. In addition, also actively involved in this activity are military communications, intelligence, electronic warfare, special operations, military-civilian interaction bodies, representations of international and non-governmental organizations, as well as mass media, including use of global Internet. The latest technologies of information and psychological impact on target audiences have been developed and are being introduced, cooperation between military and civilian propaganda structures is expanding.
All practical activities in the field of information warfare are organized on the basis of appropriate strategies, which are developed every 2 years and annually updated by the Public Diplomacy Department in conjunction with the relevant NATO committees. These documents highlight the most acute problems of the alliance, assess its informational capabilities, determine priority work in this direction for the coming period, indicate target audiences, specify the means and methods of influencing them. At the same time, in Brussels, primary importance is attached to information support of diplomatic missions, military-political and power actions, aimed at intimidating Russia’s leadership and its population, instilling in them the conviction of the “irrationality” and “futility” of any opposition to the globalist course of the West led by the United States.
The current information strategy as main topics that are supposed to unfold and played out in the course of the corresponding campaigns (operations), determines the popularization of the activities of the Alliance, support for its policy of confrontation with the Russian Federation and “projecting stability” on the regions of the strategic interests of the bloc.
The first of these informational operations (campaigns), called “Defense and Security”, are carried out in the NATO member states. Its goals are to form a positive image of the alliance, ensure support for its brazen course, convince its citizens and the population of friendly states of Russia’s aggressiveness and the need for urgent costly measures to improve the collective defense system.
The importance of solving these informational and psychological problems is caused by the fall in the authority of the Alliance as a guarantor of European security and the growth of pacifist sentiments in the countries of the Old World. Sociological studies have shown that only in 16 states (53% of the organization) more than half of the population support membership in the organization.
The lowest level of support for NATO is observed among these three population groups: youth (does not associate the organization with peacekeeping activities); people without university education (have no idea about the alliance as an international military-political entity); women (they are not sufficiently aware of the tasks of the bloc and are not interested in the military aspects of its activities).
Promoting the leading role of the Alliance in ensuring the security and freedom of European citizens in the 21st century has become one of the leading themes of the Defense and Security Campaign to mark the 70th anniversary of the Washington Treaty. Information about the anniversary of the alliance has been widely used in traditional media and in new online public diplomacy programs. Thus, a special Internet project was aimed at popularizing the idea of ”NATO’s leadership of tomorrow” with the aim of creating and promoting a positive image of the bloc among youth based on the comparative format “then and now.”
The biggest large-scale operation (campaign) “Containment and Dialogue” is being implemented in the Russian information space. Its declared goals are to prevent Russian aggression against NATO member states, to ensure measures to strengthen the forward presence at Russian borders, and to restore dialogue with Moscow to reduce the risk of escalating tensions in bilateral relations. Within the framework of the campaign, considerable attention is paid to the dissemination of information about practical measures to force pressure on the Russian Federation.
In an effort to compensate for the low effectiveness of the used force and propaganda measures in support of anti-Russian policy, the alliance leadership decided to focus on issues of establishing a constructive dialogue with Russia as an independent area of information activity. The corresponding campaign was launched in early 2018. In the course of its holding, the activity of Western countries in initiating contacts with Moscow both within the framework of international organizations (NATO, EU, OSCE, etc.) and through bilateral events has noticeably increased. However, Brussels does not seek to develop an equal and mutually beneficial partnership , or at least restore the previous level of relations with the Russian Federation. Declaring a desire for dialogue, in practice, the alliance is not aiming to remove tensions with the Russian Federation, but seeks to use such contacts exclusively to impose on the state its own approaches to resolving crises and preventing dangerous incidents in the “zone of contact” of the parties.
In addition, the expansion of negotiations with Moscow serves as a cover for the continuation of the anti-Russian course. A striking example of this is the situation around the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles. Washington and other NATO members under its pressure put forward conditions that were obviously unacceptable for Russia, including “verifiable destruction” of 9M729 missiles. At the same time, all Russian initiatives aimed at finding a compromise on this issue are being ignored.
The third information operation (campaign) “Projection of stability” is carried out mainly in crisis regions and partner countries in order instill in them a stable opinion, that the Alliance is the only guarantor of global and national security in the light of Russia’s alleged “aggressive policy”. Based on decisions made in the NATO Brussels Summit (July 2018), the bloc’s outreach activities have increased the focus on its southern wing where they are carried out in cooperation with the countries of the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. Campaign themes highlight the alliance’s role in ensuring stability in the south and in the fight against terrorism.
In addition, during the operation, special attention is paid to promoting a theory about personal responsibility of Russia’s top leadership for the events in Ukraine. With this objective, in May 2018, the heads of the foreign affairs agencies of the countries that are part of the so-called group of friends of Kiev reached an agreement on joint informational solidarity with the Ukrainian authorities. Its main objectives are: to demonstrate support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine; challenging Russia’s approaches to Crimea as the original Russian territory; publication of materials on the activities of opponents of Russian politics on the peninsula and in the Donbas; propaganda of UN General Assembly resolutions on Ukrainian issues.
As part of information support for key NATO policy issues, the Alliance’s strategic advocacy bodies are developing “related” (interrelated) themes that address the core values of the Alliance, touching upon the core values of the Alliance, issues of its conceptual, political and military adaptation, as well as revealing the importance of transatlantic solidarity. At the same time, the emphasis is on clarifying the role of the bloc as an “open participant in the European security system”, promoting the principles of Western democracy, supporting human rights and the rule of law, promoting the development of relations with partner states and friendly international organizations, primarily with the UN and the EU.
In recent years, Western experts have been forced to state the excellence achieved by Russia in the information space. At the same time, the West’s sensitivity of complex operations of information and psychological impact (IPV) on various target audiences, including the ruling elite, with the involvement of modern digital technologies and the media is especially noted. As it is believed in Brussels, this contributed to the softening of the position on sanctions on Moscow of a number of European states. A number of countries are witnessing a decline in the popularity of those politicians who in favor of confrontation with the Russian Federation. In addition, a consistent decline in public confidence in mainstream Western media is being pointed out. In particular, experts on strategic propaganda of NATO and the EU report an increase in the number of comments on social networks in support of the Russian actions of the Russian Federation in Syria.
In these conditions, in order to increase the effectiveness of anti-Russian propaganda campaigns, the leadership of the Alliance is implementing a large-scale coordinated program to create a negative image of Moscow among Europe’s population, which is designed to help ensure the interests of Western countries in containing it.
Efforts by the United States and its partners are focused on the following pragmatic challenges:
- to form a negative image of Russia as the main threat to NATO security, to justify the “guilt of Moscow” for violations of the INF Treaty and its withdrawal from it, to convince the Russian Federation of a “disproportionate build-up” of military potential and an increase in military spending;
- provide the world community with “evidence of aggression” against Ukraine, including the occupation of Crimea and the presence of Russian troops in the DPR / LPR, condemn Russia for “systematic violations” of the Minsk agreements and the terms of the Budapest memorandum;
- convince the world community of the legitimacy of NATO’s actions, justify the defensive nature of measures to strengthen the “eastern” side of the bloc and their compliance with international law;
- to deem information about the activities of the alliance reliable in order to avoid their unwanted interpretation by Moscow and to ensure that the risks of incidents and unintentional escalation of tensions in relations are reduced;
- to show the world community that the Russian Federation as an unreliable partner in trade, economic, financial and other spheres (due to alleged social instability and unfavorable investment climate);
- use in the course of propaganda and counter-propaganda human rights topics to discredit the international image of Russia;
- reaffirm the legitimacy of NATO’s course of strategic containment of the Russian Federation and the adoption of additional measures to ensure collective defense and respond to “hybrid” threats.
In accordance with the recommendations of the NATO Center of Excellence in Strategic Propaganda (Riga), in order to achieve the maximum effect of measures to contain Russia, the structures of information and psychological warfare of the alliance focused on the following areas of activity.
Thus, in solving the problems of strategic propaganda, the involvement of the media has been expanded (financing of ordered radio and television reports, distribution of personally printed publications, preparation of prepared messages for periodicals of news agencies, etc.). In Europe, the creation of large news agencies specializing in anti-Russian topics has been initiated. At the same time, the internet has become the most important media tool. A unified systematic approach to attracting electronic resources has been formed, the use of the capabilities of journalists, bloggers and social media activists loyal to the West has been activated to curb pro-Russian sentiments, forms and methods of psychological struggle are being adapted for use on the Internet.
Taking into account the significant influence on the mass consciousness of books, feature films and computer games, the release of targeted products is expanding, in which the Russian Federation is presented in the image of a totalitarian country that seizes foreign territories. At the same time, the unification and coordination of efforts of European states and the United States to monitor media publications expressing the pro-Russian point of view continue. In the interests of limiting their ability to influence world public opinion, artificial administrative, legal, financial and other obstacles are being created.
Work with Russian-speaking diasporas has intensified in order to use them as conductors of European interests. Involvement of specialists who are not only fluent in Russian, but are also versed in the social psychology of the population of the post-Soviet space has been expanded.
Increased attention is being paid to counter-propaganda and the creation of obstacles to the dissemination of alternative messages. With this end in mind, the practice of sending out emails with the refutation of objectionable messages is in the process of being improved, the possibility of interacting with the largest search engine Google to use its applications in order to identify and discredit unwanted information is being discussed.
As part of the course to escalate confrontation with Russia, NATO officials widely use the platforms of the UN, NATO and Council of Europe parliamentary assemblies, as well as controlled media to criticize the actions of the Russian Armed Forces in Syria. Brussels and Washington accuse Moscow of complicity with the “dictatorial regime” of B. Assad and the “disproportionate use of force against the civilian population and deliberate humanitarian discrimination” of the country’s residents who support the opposition.
The views of the West on all significant security issues and practical coalition events are regularly clarified and commented on by key VIPs of the alliance. In addition, the bloc’s specialists have created an Internet portal called “Establishing the Truth”, which publishes prepared messages for the international community that oppose alternative Russian information.
Along with this, Washington and its NATO allies are paying attention to the destructive impact to the Russian Federation without direct military confrontation, but with the active use of existing and newly acquired capabilities. Such complex information campaigns are aimed at the Kremlin’s loss of its international position and undermining its authority, degradation of the Russian state, its leadership’s refusal to defend its geopolitical interests, and the acceptance of the role of “slave” in relations with the West.
The main efforts are focused on ensuring a proactive IPV, the gradual formation of a negative attitude among the population towards the activities of the country’s authorities. Propaganda work focuses on finding new differentiated approaches to all target audiences. This way, the semblance of objectivity remains without an expressed anti-Russian direction.
In the interests of solving these problems, the strategic propaganda bodies of the Alliance use the following forms and methods of influencing the Russian audience:
- diverting the Russian Federation leadership’s and the special services attention to “internal problems”;
- using the actions of the Armed Forces and law enforcement agencies as a pretext for imposing sanctions against individual structures and officials, as well as for political pressure on the country’s leadership;
- attracting non-governmental organizations to influence opposition forces in other CIS republics (for example, in Belarus, where the West’s capacities are limited);
- formation of additional channels for obtaining diverse information on the Russian Federation (including through dissidents financed by the United States and its allies);
- building up a staff base loyal to Western countries in public and private structures in Russia;
- targeting the young audience to “dilute” the ideas of patriotism and belittling the important geopolitical role of the Russian Federation in the system of the modern world order.
In addition, the consistent rise of attractiveness of Western “democratic values” in the eyes of the Russian population that contribute to the loss of national identity is considered an important task.
One of the predominant directions of propaganda machine is the provision of comprehensive, primarily financial, support to the opposition Russian media, public figures, political parties and non-governmental organizations. At that, the United States and Europe’s leading countries are actively establishing business and personal contacts with those representatives of the Russian Federation, who are considered promising candidates for positions in the highest government rankings and influential public organizations. American and Western European legislation provides national ministries and institutions with ample opportunities to solve this given task under the guise of bilateral and international cooperation activities in the field of professional, educational, cultural and scientific exchanges.
Among the most effective projects in this area is the program of the US Department of State “Organization of visits of potential leaders.” This project takes into account foreigners representing political parties, influential non-governmental organizations, government agencies, large print media, commercial associations, etc. For them, events are held to share experience, professional internships, consultations, and sightseeing tours.
After the Russian authorities introduced a ban on the activities of the US Agency for International Development in our country and strengthened control over a number of pro-Western NGOs, the implementation of the American Corners project in the Russian Federation has become increasingly important. Its essence lies in ensuring the continuous functioning of a network of information centers, which are the strongholds of the foreign policy, humanitarian and cultural influence of the United States, gathering around themselves pro-Western and socially active representatives of various segments of the population.
The most effective method of processing and disseminating information in the process of strategic propaganda is considered to be disinformation based on manipulating facts and representing a system of practical measures for controlled impact on the enemy with the help of means and methods of giving deliberately false information, in order to mislead and convince of the need to make decisions that are beneficial to the manipulator.
Thus, the Americans began all their military operations with powerful disinformation campaigns, the purpose of which was to discredit the enemy and create an image for the enemy. An important role in this process is played by the techniques used by the media of Western countries in the interests of manipulating public opinion. These include:
- lies in the form of fabrication and falsification of facts;
- suppression (concealment) of important information;
- distortion of valuable information by immersing it in informational trash;
- simplification and stereotyping of messages in order to impose the necessary judgments and conclusions;
- a ban on compromising and revealing data on their countries’ activities.
Often, distortion of information involves the use of appropriate methods of its presentation, which should include: an affirmative statement of unfounded accusations and conclusions; continuous repetition of beneficial facts and stories; fragmentation of messages, violation of causal links between events; the urgency and sensationalism of the presentation of the material; use of well-known politicians and popular artists to confirm the disseminated information: exclusion of alternative information.
An example of socio-psychological misinformation and manipulation of facts is the so-called “S. Skripal case” investigation. The large-scale information and propaganda campaign and the unsubstantiated accusations of Moscow’s use of chemical weapons on the territory of the UK allowed the Russophobic forces in Europe to unite to take new demonstratively tough anti-Russian measures, and the leadership of the United Kingdom partially restored the reputation losses incurred in the process of leaving the EU.
The necessary impact on public opinion is also achieved through carefully planned provocations (for example, shelling of residential areas), terrorist acts (like the downed Malaysian Boeing over Ukraine), unwinding the mistakes made by the enemy in order to discredit him.
In order to introduce such technologies in the West, a new model of interaction with the media has been developed, the essence of which is to form a group of privileged journalists by giving them priority rights in covering current events.
For example, CBS company became a regular of the Pentagon and gradually ousted its main competitors – NBC and ABC – from the information field. It promptly presents information from hot spots in a favorable light for American generals, and in gratitude for this receives multimillion-dollar advertising orders from military corporations such as General Electric, Ford Motors, Boeing and others.
Fulfilling the social order of their “benefactors”, such journalists distort the true picture of current events and impose their vision and interpretation of the described facts and phenomena on target audiences.
The NATO center of excellence in strategic propaganda, deployed in Latvia (Riga), which employs up to 30 staff members fluent in Russian and Arabic, is of paramount importance in establishing information and psychological confrontation with the Russian Federation. The center, which is headed by a chief in the rank of brigadier general, includes four sections – concept development, preparation of information materials, training and administration.
This structure is engaged in the creation of conceptual documents on information and psychological operations, the search for new effective forms and methods of influencing the consciousness of potential NATO adversaries, the training of strategic propaganda specialists before they are sent to crisis regions, the publication of anti-Russian materials on the most pressing topics, the holding of information and propaganda events aimed at supporting the policy of containing Russia and promoting the current activities of the united armed forces of the bloc.
The leading partner of the alliance in the implementation of anti-Russian policy is the European Union, which uses civilian anti-crisis structures and “soft power” in solving problems of conflict situations. Within the framework of the agreements reached at the NATO summit in Warsaw with the EU on expanding interaction in the field of countering hybrid threats, the alliance seeks to make the most of the resources of a united Europe when carrying out strategic propaganda activities. To this end, the existing mechanisms of interaction between the forces of information and psychological operations of European countries are continuously being improved, their cooperation with intelligence and analytical bodies is expanding, joint training and retraining of specialists in strategic propaganda is being organized.
Most EU member states, despite heightened internal disagreements over the need to normalize relations with the Russian Federation, continue to support Washington’s demands for a discriminatory policy against Moscow. Based on these guidelines, the EU actively joined the process of pressuring Russia through sanctions, limiting financial and economic interaction with our country due to the annexation of Crimea and the armed conflict in southeastern Ukraine.
In particular, the European Union has agreed on restrictive measures against the defense, energy and banking sectors of the Russian economy, imposed sanctions against 170 Russian citizens, which includes a ban on entry into its countries and an asset freeze. The “black list” also includes 44 legal entities from the Russian Federation. In addition to this, Brussels has banned the import to Europe of products manufactured in the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, and also blocked economic activity on the peninsula for European companies and entrepreneurs.
Building up common capabilities to counter hybrid threats has become one of the main areas of cooperation between the EU and NATO. In this regard, joint requirements have been developed for the resistance of European countries to external influences, the efforts of the two organizations are being coordinated to identify, analyze and neutralize “implicit” forms of aggression. The preparation of a manual on uncovering “asymmetric methods of influence” and the use of various responses to them has begun, with the distribution of specific tasks between these organizations, the practical development of which has already been carried out in the course of combined exercises. The Finland initiative to deploy an appropriate European Center of Excellence on its territory was supported.
In order to strengthen the containment policy of the Russian Federation, the European Foreign Policy Service (EMU), in cooperation with the European Commission, in 2015 developed an Action Plan for Strategic Advocacy, which foresees the creation of a specialized operational group of strategic propaganda “Vostok” in the management structure on information strategy of the EMU, consisting of 25 employees.
The materials prepared by this group are disseminated through social networks and the media. For this, the possibilities of the EU representations in the post-Soviet states, as well as contacts with local communities of journalists and non-governmental organizations, are used. The group is also responsible for maintaining the Russian-language version of the EBU website, which hosts press releases from the governing bodies, and publishes a weekly “Disinformation Review” bulletin with analysis and “revelations” of the most important publications in the Russian media from the point of view of Western propaganda.
In addition, a high-level expert group on combating disinformation has been operating in the structure of the European Commission since 2019. It includes representatives of media holdings, Internet companies, research institutes and analytical departments of the European Union. The main purpose of their activities is to prepare proposals for the organization’s leadership to identify and suppress attempts to disseminate “false” information that has a negative impact on public opinion in European states.
In addition to this, in order to solve the tasks of strategic propaganda in 2019, “contact points” were deployed in all EU countries, which specialize in issues of information warfare. Their tasks are round-the-clock monitoring of the media space in order to track “fake” news, determine the degree of their danger and a list of possible preventive measures at the national level, as well as prepare recommendations for alerting the anti-crisis mechanisms of the European Union.
The EU actively began to involve the private sector in solving the problems of information confrontation. For example, in 2018, a number of leading information and advertising corporations signed the Code of Conduct against Disinformation, according to which they undertake to mark their publications in a special way, identify and block fake accounts, and inform users about political and commercial advertising.
In the framework of information warfare, a special role is assigned to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), whose activities are of an anti-Russian nature. These stand out among them: the “Open Society Institute” (“Soros Foundation”), “International Republican Institute”, “National Democratic Institute for International Affairs”, “MacArthur Foundation”, “Freedom House”, “Charles Stewart Moth Foundation”, ” Education for Democracy “,” Eastern European Democratic Center “,” World Congress of Ukrainians “,” Ukrainian World Coordination Council “,” Crimean Field Mission for Human Rights “and a number of others.
The activities of these NGOs are aimed at consistently implanting Western values into the Russian Federation, “eroding” the country’s citizens’ feelings of patriotism and pride in their nationality, igniting protest moods in society, destabilizing the internal political situation, as well as discrediting the authority of the authorities and law enforcement agencies. At the same time, the priority target audiences, as a rule, are young people and representatives of the working-age population. Thus, the anti-Russian efforts of foreign structures are trying to exert an indirect influence on the degree of moral readiness of Russians to defend the state from external aggression.
The specifics of the functioning of non-governmental organizations (formally independent statute, the presence of a network of representative offices in various countries, the absence or insignificant number of restrictions on residence, travel, movement abroad, etc.) creates favorable conditions for identifying and attracting Russian citizens to use as sources of diverse information and other tasks. They strive to play an especially destructive role in the socio-economic, ideological and moral spheres of the life of Russian society.
This is how the Belgian NGO International Partnership for Human Rights, with the support of the American organization New Advocacy Project, launched the Fresh Look at Legal Defense program in July 2018. Its goal is to counter the informational influence of the Russian Federation in the post-Soviet space by creating broadcasting and human rights agencies capable of influencing the formation of public opinion. The project is being implemented in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The program provides for the allocation of grants to news agencies and journalists covering human rights issues, support for selected media at the international and national levels, and training of their representatives at the journalistic departments of universities in the United States and Western Europe.
Along with this, in 2018, the Estonian NGO “Design Leagues” held a training course on the Ukrainian territory called “Summer School-2018” with the involvement of specialists from Ukraine and the Baltic countries. The issues of public opinion management and counteraction to “hostile propaganda”, as well as methods of analysis and practical use of foreign and national media were studied. The event was attended by activists of public organizations, journalists and students from the countries of the former USSR. The founders of this NGO are representatives of the Estonian and American special services, and the financial sponsors are the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (Germany).
The American think tank Atlantic Council has formed a new nongovernmental structure called the Transatlantic Electoral Integrity Commission, headed by former NATO Secretary General A. Rasmussen and former US Secretary of Homeland Security M. Chertoff. The main tasks of this body are the analysis and forecasting of Russia’s information policy, as well as the development of recommendations for the suppression of “foreign interference” in the upcoming elections in the United States and European countries. The Russian news agencies Sputnik and RT are named as the main objects of research.
In general, the approaches of the leadership of NATO and the European Union to building up information and psychological pressure on Russia indicate the desire of Western states to increase the possibilities of propaganda influence for strategic containment of the Russian Federation, to prevent the growth of its economic and military potential in order to prevent an increase in Russian influence on solutions of global international problems.
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