Persistent internet rumours claiming the coronavirus outbreak originated from a secret American pharmaceutical company with the aim of destroying China from within were quickly discredited. Pop culture fans recognised the supposed activities of the Umbrella Corporation as being from the famous Japanese video games series Resident Evil.
However, although fake news, it can likely be attributed to Russian trolls conducting this and other similar activities online, especially when considered within the wider context of how the Russian regime is using this worldwide crisis to further destabilize the West and test its resolve.
Russian trolls never sleep
Russia’s COVID-19 related actions first and foremost take the form of a vast information warfare campaign, with media outlets simultaneously downplaying the threat of the pandemic – ‘it is less dangerous than seasonal flu’ – while stoking fear about what is happening elsewhere in Europe.… Seguir leyendo »
There is no world leader with a more contradictory attitude toward Russia than Emmanuel Macron.
The French president was ostensibly the ‘least apologist’ candidate of those running in the first round of the 2017 elections. Compared to the Russian-funded Marine Le Pen on one end of the spectrum, and the radical leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the other, Macron seemed a model of moderation.
To the Kremlin, he must have been perceived as the least desirable candidate for its interests, which is why they hacked the servers of his party, En Marche, just prior to the vote in a last-ditch attempt to derail the campaign.… Seguir leyendo »
On 14 April, General Curtis Scaparrotti, the outgoing Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) of NATO Allied Command Operations General, deplored the broken communication process with Russia and a lack of understanding of “each other’s signals”. Immediately afterwards, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko denounced the current deadlock with NATO, claiming cooperation had been discontinued and disagreements with the Atlantic Alliance were now “even deeper than before”.
Relations between NATO and the Kremlin have reached a dangerously abrasive stage, as the existing threat-reduction arrangements and confidence-building mechanisms with Russia are not working. Russia and NATO are talking past each other and substantive dialogue is not possible under current conditions.… Seguir leyendo »
On 25 November, the Russian coast guard denied access to two Ukrainian armoured artillery boats and a tugboat on their pre-planned transit through the Kerch Strait to Mariupol on the Sea of Azov. Russian forces reportedly assaulted the Ukrainian surface vessels, leaving the crew of 23 captive and 6 Ukrainian servicemen wounded. In the wake of the attack, Russia temporarily closed navigation to non-Russian traffic through the Strait, before reopening it on Monday.
This represents an escalation for Russia in the Sea of Azov, from air and sea provocations to direct military action against Ukrainian assets. It is the latest step in the Kremlin’s long-term efforts to destabilize Ukraine.… Seguir leyendo »
From 11 to 17 September, the Russian armed forces conducted the active phase of the Vostok-2018 strategic military exercise. Throughout the week, Russia’s far east hosted a coordinated ballet of troops rehearsing across multiple strategic directions. In a twist, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army participated for the first time.
It was an impressive show, but it also offers serious lessons as to Russia’s military planning and preparedness and its diplomatic footing towards both China and the West.
The military dimension
The Vostok 2018 exercise was part of a pre-planned life-cycle of massive drills occurring across all of Russia’s military commands that aim to strengthen command and control (C2) and forces integration.… Seguir leyendo »
The NATO summit in Brussels on 11-12 July is likely to be highly political. The Atlantic alliance is increasingly polarised due to disagreements over burden-sharing arrangements, national contributions and transatlantic solidarity. But NATO members cannot let these disagreements get in the way of addressing the ‘Russian challenge’ – the increasing tensions with Moscow as the Kremlin explores the boundaries of escalation with the alliance and tried to destabilize it.
Prospects for improving relations with Moscow are minimal, especially in light of recent developments. The latest meeting of the NATO–Russia Council on 31 May (the first since October 2017) and the meeting between the chief of staff of the Russian armed forces, Valery Gerasimov, and the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford, on 8 June achieved very little.… Seguir leyendo »
Since Donald Trump took office, Russia has come to hold a unique position in US internal and foreign affairs. It is not simply another ‘rogue state’ in the international arena, but has become a hot-button domestic issue, with ongoing investigations into alleged collusion with the Kremlin.
Trump’s personal deference to Vladimir Putin does not reflect the broader picture of tense US–Russia relations. The political and military establishment in Washington sees Russia as a threat, as outlined in the recently published National Security Strategy (NSS) and National Defence Strategy (NDS).
The NSS calls Russia a ‘revisionist power’ while the NDS proclaims the US is in ‘strategic competition’ with the Kremlin.… Seguir leyendo »
On 23 November in Sochi, President Vladimir Putin wrapped up a four-day meetings marathon in the presence of Russia’s military top brass and senior representatives of the defence industry. The now-traditional ‘Sochi meetings’ have been taking place twice a year since 2013 in order to address the main concerns in Russia’s military industry as well as to review advances in military procurement for the armed forces. Today in their tenth iteration, they represent a direct incarnation of President Putin’s ‘manual control’ over the decision-making process in the military industry. The November meetings were primarily aimed at finalizing the upcoming State Armament Programme 2018–2027.… Seguir leyendo »
Following seven days of «military operations», the fictional country of «Veshnoriya» (with a geography similar to that of the Baltic States) was forced into submission by Russian and Belarusian joint forces.
In a grand display, the «Union State» of Russia and Belarus destroyed the enemy after Veshnoriya tried to stage border incursions and massive air raids.
This scenario was, of course, played out in Russia and Belarus during the Zapad-2017 military exercise. But what were the key takeaways for the watching world?
Small is beautiful
Western commentators were obsessed with the numbers of Russian troops being mobilized during the course of exercise and stuck firmly to the «100,000 servicemen» narrative.… Seguir leyendo »