Publications By Category

Publications By Type


In-House Bulletins


Policy Papers


Russia Reform Monitor - No. 1986

Meet the bit players in Russia's media war;
Moscow plays Palestinian peacemaker

Edited by Ilan Berman and Jacob Gladysz
July 3, 2015

June 7: 

Russian President Vladimir Putin and newly-elected Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras may soon come to an agreement on "Turkish Stream," a senior Greek official has said. 
Sputnik cites Greek Deputy Defense Minister Costas Isychos as maintaining that the notional pipeline, which would pump gas from Russia to Turkey and eventually to Greece and Southern Europe via the Black Sea, could become an arena of future cooperation between Athens and Moscow. Turkish Stream is meant to replace the failed South Stream project, which was scrapped last Fall over objections by the European Union, but so far has not gotten off the ground due to - among other things - Turkish hesitance over closer energy ties with Russia. 

The Kremlin is funding "troll factories," organizations that spread disinformation through social media, fake news outlets, and comments in the forum sections of Western and Russian new media, 
reports the New York Times Magazine. The trolls employed by Kremlin front companies create fake social media accounts, complete with photos stolen from models and actors, and post pro-Kremlin and anti-Western information on social media and news sites, often interspersed with more innocuous material like recipes and nature photography in order to allay suspicion about the authors themselves. The point of these operations, according to opposition politician Leonid Valkov, is not only to spread false information, but also to "spoil [the Internet], to create the atmosphere of hate, to make it so stinky that normal people won't want to touch it." 

[EDITORS' NOTE: While in the past the Internet in Russia was used primarily by liberals and the intelligentsia, it has steadily grown in appeal - and so
har the Kremlin's need to control the flow of information available to Russian citizens. While other regimes - such as China - have chosen to filter out content deemed harmful to the government, the Kremlin has taken a different tack, of which the "troll factories" are a part. By smearing everything, even reputable sources, with false information, Russia's media strategy aims to obscure objective truth and discredit all potentially harmful news and opinion outlets. As Adrian Chen, the author of the New York Times Magazine report, puts it, "Russia's information war might be thought of as the biggest trolling operation in history, and its target is nothing less than the utility of the Internet as a democratic space."] 

June 9:

Russia is prepared to serve as
peacemaker between the Palestinian Authority and its Islamist opposition, the Ma'an news agency reports. The Kremlin has announced its willingness to host a reconciliation meeting between the ruling Fatah faction of the PLO, which controls the West Bank, and the Hamas movement, which holds power in the Gaza Strip. The two sides had tentatively agreed on a national unity government last year, but the arrangement broke down amid political jockeying and mutual suspicion. A new round of talks was supposed to take place in Cairo, but never materialized as a result of Egyptian objections to the attendance of Hamas politburo member (and terrorist chief) Khaled Misha'al. While Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas still has not responded to Russia's outreach, Hamas has already accepted the invitation. 

June 10:

Russia is readying a fleet of drones for deployment to the Arctic, 
reports Sputnik. Russian officials say that the drones will be used for military surveillance around Russia's forces in the country's distant northeast, as well as for monitoring ecological and ice conditions there. The drones are part of a broader Kremlin strategy toward the Arctic - one which includes military deployments to the region and the active exploration of oil and gas reserves along its Arctic coast, even beyond the country's internationally recognized 200-mile exclusive economic zone. To that end, Russia's new military doctrine - released earlier this year - for the first time included the Arctic as a core element of Russia's national interests. 

Moscow is seeking to expand its defense-industrial presence in the Middle East. 
Sputnik reports that the Kremlin - which has presided over a significant expansion of military ties (including arms sales) with Egypt in recent months - has now set its sights on the Kingdom of Bahrain. According to Vagif Garaev, Moscow's envoy to Manama, a May delegation of Russian officials to the Gulf state yielded a new agreement on "military technical cooperation." Bahrain has also reportedly asked Russia to help it create a "national search engine" to allow the Kingdom to better control access to the Internet among its citizens.

Related Categories: Russia; Russia and Eurasia Program; Ukraine

Downloadable Files: N/A