United States Efforts to Counter Russian Disinformation & Malign Influence (EventID=109748)
US imposed sanctions in connection with attempts to interfere in elections – against what Pompeo described as part of a network of influence linked to Russia
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the imposition of sanctions against seven individuals and four legal entities that are part of the Russian «external influence network», associated with Ukrainian MP Andriy Derkach, who was previously included in the sanctions list for trying to influence the 2020 presidential election.
Pompeo’s statement notes that Ukrainian MP Andriy Derkach «has been an active Russian agent for over ten years and maintains close ties with the Russian special services». Former Ukrainian officials Konstantin Kulik, Alexander Onishchenko and Andrey Telizhenko and current deputy Alexander Dubinsky were included in the sanctions list. According to Pompeo, these individuals participated in a campaign to spread unconfirmed accusations against one of the candidates in the US elections and repeatedly made statements about the involvement of American officials in corrupt schemes in Ukraine, which was in line with Derkach’s goal. – influence the outcome of the US presidential election. Sanctions have also been imposed on a number of information resources – «Era-Media», Only News, Nabuleaks and TOV «Skeptic», spreading false information on the orders of Derkach and his partners.
Former US Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst (John Herbst) noted: he himself was the target of a disinformation campaign when he represented US interests in Ukraine.
«I faced this when I was ambassador to Ukraine, – says Herbst. – The Kremlin monitored my connection when I communicated through unsecured channels. Since I inevitably did some business on the phone, I sometimes appeared in the Russian media. For example, one late evening someone close to the then Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko called me and asked me to meet with this person at her request late at night. I agreed. And this phone call appeared in the Russian media – as an alleged example of malicious US interference in Ukrainian politics».
«I – Orthodox Christian, – continues Herbst. – And the Russian media reported, quoting a former Russian lieutenant general, that President Bush ordered me to stop attending the Moscow Patriarchate parish. It was during the Orange Revolution, and in fact, I would never – and was not – parishioner of the Church of the Moscow Patriarchate».
Florida International University Expert Alexander Crowter (Alexander Crowther) stresses: most of Russian propaganda is directed against NATO and Ukraine.
«Half of the information campaigns in early December last year targeted Europe, NATO and the United States of America. Interestingly – the largest campaign is directed against Ukraine. The Kremlin does not conduct information campaigns on one issue, – they cover several at once. Russian media said that, for example, “The US invented the Holodomor, Ukraine invented the Holodomor, so there is a campaign against Russia. Russia – innocent, USA and Ukraine – liars”. We see a systematic round-the-clock campaign that legitimizes Russia and delegitimizes the United States, European countries unfriendly to Russia, as well as the European Union and NATO.».
John Herbst states that Russian disinformation is often directed against the US Foreign Ministry, as was the case with former Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, and former other State Department press secretaries Jen Psaki, as well as US foreign policy officials».
The reason is simple, Herbst explains: «The State Department is an instrument of US policy, and the Kremlin does not like US policy in many cases. Therefore, they are trying to undermine the position of the State Department. It is regrettable when women are targeted by Russian disinformation. The Kremlin uses old and refuted stereotypes. Russian disinformation is successful only when people are either ignorant or only partially aware of the (discussed) issues. If people do not understand that the mainstream media in Russia are essentially instruments of the state and obey government regulations, they may take things at face value that are downright ridiculous. it – one of the main facts that helps to understand Russian disinformation campaigns… Another, of course, – these are the problems that disinformation campaigns solve. And if you are well versed in these matters, you are unlikely to fall under malicious influence, under (influence)… misinformation».
Alexander Crouter draws attention to the fact that Russian disinformation campaigns are often directed against women.
«From their point of view, women should stay at home., – the expert explains. – Anything that smacks of liberalism or the twenty-first century is actively criticized. From the Russian point of view, – woman’s place – at home, so they (Russian state media – G.A.) specifically target women who have influenced other women in positions of responsibility in Western countries, – as part of this general campaign to delegitimize the West».
Commenting on the imposed sanctions, US Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin said: «Russian disinformation campaigns targeting American citizens pose a threat to our democracy».
As Alexander Crowther emphasizes, the purpose of this disinformation is to control the political activity of citizens.
«Russian and Chinese governments believe bad things happen when little people get too much information – for example, revolutions and the like. Therefore, they want to control this information, and the actions of Moscow and Beijing are mainly aimed at their own populations.», – analyst thinks.
US-imposed sanctions on seven individuals and four legal entities that are part of the Russian «external influence network», provide for the freezing of all assets of these persons on the territory of the United States and a ban on doing business with them for American citizens.
Treasury Department urges American citizens to check social media information with reliable sources, especially when this information comes from outside the United States