Sowing Chaos: Russia's Disinformation Wars

America Abroad
russian meme satan jesus

During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, Russian trolls spread this meme. 

Revelations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election were a shock to Americans. But it wasn't quite as surprising to people in former Soviet states and the EU.

For years they've been exposed to Russian disinformation and slanted state media; before that Soviet propaganda filtered into the mainstream. We don't know how effective Russian information warfare was in swaying the US election. But we do know these tactics have roots going back decades and will most likely be used for years to come.

This hour, we’ll hear stories of Russian disinformation and attempts to sow chaos in Europe and the United States. 

We’ll learn how Russia uses its state-run media to give a platform to conspiracy theorists and how it invites viewers to doubt the accuracy of other news outlets.

And we’ll look at the evolution of internet trolling from individuals to large troll farms.

And — finally — what can be done to counter all this?

Editor's note: In this episode, we stated, "[Ukrainian President Viktor] Yanukovych [a pro-Russian politician] was replaced by Petro Poroshenko, who is more pro-Europe. For Russia, this was a big problem. So they took advantage of the east-west split that already existed in Ukraine." In fact, Russia had begun its subterfuge in Ukraine earlier than that, in response to the Maidan protests in late 2013. In February 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine and Yanukovych stepped down. Then, in July 2014, Poroshenko was elected president.