The information domain has been a key battleground in Russia’s war in Ukraine. Every significant actor with a stake in the war – whether involved directly in the fighting or not – is engaged in a constant battle to shape beliefs about the conflict, in the hope of influencing the actions of others to their advantage. All information campaigns, whether based on truth or on deliberate lies, share a common goal: to embed beliefs that will ultimately shape behaviour. All successful campaigns leverage some combination of cognitive, social and affective emotional factors. And once a belief is formed it can be stubbornly difficult to change.
In this conflict, we have seen Russia use a familiar playbook of methods, both overt and covert, in the information domain. Disinformation – the deliberate generation or amplification of false information – has played a significant role. New and emerging technologies are becoming increasingly prominent, both in enabling the rapid proliferation of disinformation in the digital sphere, but also in providing new opportunities to counter its spread. To enable effective responses, it is important to dissect why Russia has deployed disinformation tools in the way that it has, and how successful it has been.
Centre for Emerging Technology and Security, 'The Information Battlefield: Disinformation, declassification and deepfakes', CETaS Expert Analysis, June 2022.