Information operating units in Russia trace their history back to the times of Soviet Union. General Ion Pacepa, spymaster in the former Warsaw Pact state of Romania, has written substantially on the subject-matter in his book Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies. The origin of ‘Russia disinformation’ campaign, modern day equivalent to ‘false news’, is attributed to Joseph Stalin. The authoritarian leader is accredited with coining the term and bringing it in as a ‘cost-effective strategy’ which could serve as a tool of political warfare, which can ‘long bleed the adversary’. Such an attack is launched secretly under extreme confidential measures. Through this tactic, Russia plays divide and rule phenomenon, pitting people against the ‘enemy state’.
The origin of ‘Russia disinformation’ campaign, modern day equivalent to ‘false news’, is attributed to Joseph Stalin. The authoritarian leader is accredited with coining the term and bringing it in as a ‘cost-effective strategy’ which could serve as a tool of political warfare, which can ‘long bleed the adversary’
The core objective lies in creating instability by hacking in the restricted data files and emails of foreign government officials. The data is then disseminated, often first being manipulated and distorted, to serve the divergent political interests. The malicious activities are not restricted to officials and state personnel, but extend to general public as well.
The Russian Information Unit (RIU) has a growing presence on social media sites, where real-time ‘propaganda news’ is featured on a regular basis. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and many other sites which people use to stay updated, are fed with real looking ‘fake news’. Sputnik and RT (formerly known as Russia Today) are the major channels that help the Russian Government agendas to spread speedily to a dense population of the world.
Moscow demoed its maneuvers to the world wholly in the Ukrainian electoral held in 2014. However, it was Kremlin propaganda and alleged intervention in the US Presidential Election of the previous year which sent shockwaves all across the West. The US Intelligence Community officially accused Russia and its President Vladimir Putin on October 7, 2016 for its illegal intervention in an election for a government head that is ‘for and by the people of America alone’. The then US President Barack H. Obama knowing the immense seriousness of the crisis in hand used the ‘Red Phone,’ a direct line of communication between the White House and Kremlin, developed after the Cuban Missile Crisis during the Cold War; warning that US would not see lightly ‘any meddling in US election’.
The former President had to leave the Oval Office shortly and was succeeded by President Donald J. Trump. Since then the matter has had little progress and the known ‘Trump-Russia’ romance has allegedly broken the lead of Robert Mueller investigations which were taking new turns when the current President first entered the White House.
A former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele issued a controversial dossier containing information on Trump’s compromises with Kremlin. The report number 80 of the dossier stated that Trump has had relations with Russia for the last five years.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has publicly claimed to have potential evidences against President Donald Trump and Russian collusion. A former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele issued a controversial dossier containing information on Trump’s compromises with Kremlin. The report number 80 of the dossier stated that Trump has had relations with Russia for the last five years. It states that the Federal Security Service, formerly the KGB has embarrassing and salacious data against Donald Trump in form of recorded videos, conversations and photos in Moscow.
President Trump along with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin deny the Russian intervention in US elections, which the latter is reported to have ensured in November, 2017 meet up in Vietnam. Despite the ongoing developments, analysts see sharply and with critique Trump’s previous acts of firing the FBI Director James Comey and the former National Security Advisor (NSA) Michael Flynn.
Did Russia intervene in the US Presidential Elections remains an ongoing debate with evidence surfacing for and against, almost daily. However, one thing is for certain that US remains segmented, more so than it has ever been since the 19th century American Civil War. This means that the country is more vulnerable than it has been previously. Therefore, for any adversary there may be no better time to ‘bleed the sole power’ and ‘victor of the Cold War’.
President Putin, has called the dissolution of the Soviet Union as the ‘greatest tragedy of the 20th century,’ which he believes was orchestrated by the Americans. The possibility that the former KGB man would like nothing better cannot be ruled out in a realpolitik world dictated by self-interest and the maximization of power.
The most senior Cyber Advisor to the Russian Government Andrey Krutskikh is reported to have stated at the ‘InfoForum 2016’: ‘I am warning you: We are at the verge of having “something” in the information arena, which will allow us to talk to the Americans as equals’.
The sorrow of Soviet dissolution is still scripted in Kremlin’s tabula. Hence it is not suitable to say that the Russian revenge is over. Instead it seems like as if a new vengeance of warfare has just started, a requital that can prelude a new Cold War between the two powers.
majoring in International Relations from the National Defence University, Islamabad. She has an avid interest in Global Security, International Law and Politics.