The Atlantic

What Europe Can Teach America About Russian Disinformation

“If we are serious about defending Western values, now is the time.”
Source: Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

In 2014, United States officials encountered a new form of Kremlin disinformation in Ukraine. As “little green men” streamed into the country’s south, blatant falsehoods over anything from the history of World War II to weapon-system deployments spread across the internet and the airwaves. Propagandists disguised as professors, activists, and journalists sowed confusion about what was actually happening on the ground: soldiers bearing no flag had occupied strategic territory in eastern Ukraine. Intelligence collectors supplied propagandists with tapped calls and hacked emails containing compromising language, and the Kremlin leaked all of this to the media at key moments.

U.S. officials engaged in an aggressive campaign to build a global understanding of what was actually happening in Ukraine, and united Western allies in a chorus of condemnation. As a result, the West backed a sanctions regime that, remarkably, remains intact. But over time,

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