Fighting Back Against Russian Disinformation Campaigns

Solutions Journalism Network

Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine has complicated the geopolitical foundations of Europe and raised new questions about transatlantic security.  Since the start of Russia's full-scale military invasion into Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the fighting has caused over nine hundred civilian deaths and pushed millions of Ukrainians to flee to neighboring countries. The current campaign is an escalation of Putin's aggression toward Ukraine that started in earnest in 2014 with Russia's annexation of Crimea; Ukrainian ambassador to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya describes these actions as part of Russian president Vladimir Putin's campaign to re-unify the Russian Empire. Assessing accurate details of the conflict on the ground and the attitudes that Russian citizens hold toward the war is complicated by orchestrated propaganda campaigns emerging out of Russia. Targeted disinformation campaigns are an increasingly common (and alarmingly effective) tactic emerging out of Russia; in a 2017 Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe hearing, Senator Gardner said that Russian disinformation poses to a serious threat to the liberal international order, and that Russian's intention “to sow fear, discord, and paralysis that undermines democratic institutions and weakens critical Western alliances such as NATO and the EU.”

Russian disinformation campaigns have been influential in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine as well as the 2014 annexation of Crimea, but these campaigns have also been leveraged to take advantage of global democratic institutions and advance Russia’s strategic agenda in nations further from their own borders. This collection explores how journalism and information have been employed to counter the spread of harmful Russian propaganda across Europe, from Estonia's reserve of cybersecurity volunteers to Finland's public diplomacy program (and more).