Russian Cyber Attacks and Propaganda in the West
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Russian Cyber Attacks and Propaganda in the West
6 March @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Although in recent years the Russian state’s information warfare capabilities have been increasingly tested in the West, falsified narratives, manipulation of facts and psychological influence are still one of the most effective tools at the Kremlin’s strategic disposal. A lot has been said and written about Russia’s disinformation and propaganda successes. However, there is still a lack of understanding about how exactly the Russian propaganda machine became so influential and capable of surviving in the developed world. More importantly, there is also a lack of expert advice on how we can protect ourselves in cyber space and respond to asymmetrical threats to our defence and security.
By kind invitation of Lord Risby, and in conjunction with the Embassy of Ukraine, the Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to join Major General Boris Kremenetskyi, Natalia Popovych and Dr. Ofer Fridman for an in-depth panel discussion about how Britain should respond to Russian cyber-attacks and propaganda.
Major General Boris Kremenetskyi was previously a Defence Adviser, Mission of Ukraine to the EU following his position as the First Deputy Chief, Military Cooperation and Peacekeeping Operations General Directorate. He followed on from this as Head of the Ukraine side of the Joint Ceasefire Coordination and Control Centre (Eastern Ukraine) until taking up his current appointment as Defence and Air Attaché, Embassy of Ukraine to the UK. In Major General Kremenetskyi’s early career he was an officer at the Cooperation and Regional Security Division of NATO after which he became Head of the Euro-Atlantic Integration Department.
Natalia Popovych is an international communications expert, civic activist, a Co-Founder of Ukraine Crisis Media Center (UCMC) and Founder of One Philosophy. With over 20 years’ experience working in Ukraine, the USA and Russia, Natalia leads the One Philosophy team to safeguard and develop reputations of the numerous Fortune 500 corporate clients. In 2018, the company was recognized as the Best Agency to Work for in EMEA as well as the Agency of the Year in the post-Soviet markets by The Holmes Report. After the Revolution of Dignity, Nataliya has been at the forefront of Ukraine’s efforts to counter the Russian hybrid warfare. She previously served in the capacity of an advisor on information policy to the Chief of the President’s Administration of Ukraine and led a UCMC initiative to reform major public sector communications in Ukraine’s three branches of power.
Dr. Ofer Fridman is a Teaching & Research Fellow at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London and the Director of Operations at the King’s Centre for Strategic Communications (KCSC). He holds the degrees of B.A. in Military History and Security Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, M.A. in Counter–Terror and Homeland Security from the Interdisciplinary Centre Herzliya (IDC), and a PhD in Politics from the University of Reading. His research interests include: Military Strategy and Military Transformation Theories, Civilian Casualties in Armed Conflict, Russian Military Culture and Strategy, Non-Military Means and Methods in Contemporary Conflicts, Strategic Communications in International Relations.
Lord Richard Risby is a Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom. He served as Member of Parliament for Bury St Edmunds from 1992 to 1997, and for West Suffolk from 1997 to 2010. He joined the House of Lords in 2010 and is currently the British Trade Envoy to Algeria.
On the 6th of March, the Henry Jackson Society hosted a panel discussion with Lord Richard Risby on the topic of ‘Russian Cyber Attacks and Propaganda in the West’. The panel consisted of Major General Boris Kremenetskyi, Natalia Popvych, Dr. Ofer Friedman, and HJS’ own Jamila Mammadova.
Lord Risby opened the panel with brief remarks on the timeliness of the conversation as the Ukrainian elections, a target of Russian propaganda, are set to take place at the end of March. He also remarked that the issue of cyber-attacks is the challenge of our time.
Major General Kremenetskyi began his comments by confirming the power of Russian propaganda in Ukraine, describing his first-hand experience. He outlined the main objectives of Russian cyber-attacks and propaganda as to promote Russian policy, destroy Ukraine as a state, and to destroy institutions of national security. The Major General concluded his statement by proposing ways to combat Russian disinformation campaigns. He called for a joint effort by western countries to reduce Russian influences in their countries, to provide alternatives to Russian information and media, and to track Russian media.
Natalia Popovych continued the conversation by saying that the democratic world understands this distortion of reality leaves them under threat. However, she continued that we are in a moment of truth decay which has been the normal that was established during the Soviet era. Russian propaganda is a multidimensional issue that needs a multidimensional solution. She warned that the stakes are very high in the upcoming Ukrainian elections. Campaigning will be more dirty and assassinations more likely. Popovych additionally touched on the effectiveness of Russian information laundering in the Ukraine. Information laundering is a process by which fake news starts out on junk sites and is then shared and quoted by other sources until it makes its way to the mainstream news media. She also underscored the fact that 80% of Ukrainians get their news through television, which is hosted by autocrats without diverse opinions, making them more vulnerable to being exposed to fake news. Popovych explained that Ukraine wants a clear resolution from partner countries to work to combat Russian influence in the region. Finally, she concluded with the belief that this issue is bigger than 140 characters and young people must be taught media literacy.
Dr. Ofer Fridman spoke next, offering his opinion that Russia’s use of information campaigns, internet, economic pressure, and political pressure over the last decade to weaken the west is not unique. He believes that the main problem with Russia lies with the West and their lack of the ability to understand them. Dr. Fridman continued that after the Cold War the West stopped listening to Russia even though they were telling us what they were doing. He said his proposal for the path forward is to be prepared to respond, but the West must work to understand them again. The West must overestimate their capabilities, because this is how they won the Cold War. He concluded that the West needs to accept that Russia will stay with or without Putin in charge.
Lord Risby then proposed the question to the panel of how should the West communicate with Russia? To which the Major General responded that the West must understand the international rule of law and should not be generous with Russia.
The event closed with a round of questions and answers.
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