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Moscow and the World: From Soviet Active Measures to Russian Information Warfare
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University of Miami
Submission date: 2023-12-09
Acceptance date: 2024-02-07
Online publication date: 2024-04-18
Russia under Vladimir Putin has expanded and moved rapidly to improve its ability to employ “disinformation,” or “information warfare,” as an effective instrument to help it to accomplish its specific foreign policy objectives. Although it has only been since direct Russian involvement in the U.S. presidential election of 2016 that this has been an issue of major public political concern in the United States, a flood of research on this topic has now begun to appear. Despite many years of preparation for cyber conflict against critical U.S. infrastructure and military forces, the U.S. government and cybersecurity industry were unprepared for Russian information operations targeting the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It is clear, however, that the Russian propaganda/disinformation activities in the U.S. are but one part of a policy targeted virtually everywhere across the entire world and that this policy builds upon the earlier propaganda and disinformation activities of Russia’s predecessor state, the USSR. In the present essay, we intend to track the reemergence and development of the information warfare and disinformation component of Russian policy under President Putin, including its largely successful attempt to reintegrate the components of the former Soviet Union and its deep roots in Soviet “active measures,” up until the invasion of Ukraine, when it expanded exponentially. We shall also track the areas of the world targeted, and the increasing breadth of its target audiences and the issues covered.
This paper is published posthumously. Special thanks go to Professor Kanet's grandson, Christopher K. Zelle, without whose dedicated assistance the writing of this paper would not have been possible. The ACIG editorial team would like to express our deep gratitude to the family of Professor Roger E. Kanet for their support and approval of the final version of this manuscript for publication. Their consent has been invaluable in honoring Professor Kanet’s legacy and contributions to the field.
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