Tuesday, February 27, 2024

An article published by international news outlet Pressenza in August made false claims that the West was looting religious relics and art from a monastery in Kyiv, Ukraine. U.S. officials have linked this article to a covert information operation by Russia to spread propaganda in Central and South America. The State Department’s Global Engagement Center is disclosing this influence campaign to counter Russia’s efforts to discredit the United States and undermine international support for Ukraine. This preemptive tactic reflects the difficulty of countering false narratives once they have spread. The campaign involves two Russian companies and the Institute for Internet Development, which have close ties to the Kremlin. These entities plan to commission articles through local writers and use artificial intelligence chatbots to amplify them on social media. Their goal is to cultivate media contacts in countries across Latin America. The Kremlin devotes significant resources to propagate its views on the war in Ukraine and denigrate the U.S. and NATO. The Institute for Internet Development plans to spend $32 million this year on information efforts surrounding the war. The extent of this new campaign is still unclear, but it targets numerous countries, indicating its ambitious nature. U.S. officials have identified the coordination seen in the Pressenza article as an example of the campaign’s tactics. The article echoes previous accusations made by Russian state news agencies that Ukraine planned to remove relics and valuables from the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. The State Department has not revealed all the details about its new information, but it hopes to counter Russian propaganda by exposing its hidden hand.

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