War via TikTok: Russia’s new tool for propaganda machine

“This is the way they go to war; it’s a central part of Russian doctrine,” said Jim Ludes, a former U.S. defense analyst who now directs the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University. Ludes said Russian disinformation campaigns are intended to galvanize Russian support while confusing and dividing the country’s opponents.

Russia tailors its propaganda message for specific audiences.

For Russians and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, the message is that Russia is trying to defend its own people against Western-fueled aggression and persecution in Ukraine. Similar tactics have been used, including by Nazi Germany when it invaded Czechoslovakia under the guise of protecting ethnic Germans living there, Ludes noted.

“It’s not good guys who use this tactic,” Ludes said. “It’s the language of conquest, not the language of democracy.”

In the West, Russia seeks to sow division and reduce the chances of a unified international response. It does this in part through a stable of state-controlled media outlets such as Sputnik and RT, which publish in English, Spanish and several other languages.

“The invasion is off,” read one headline in RT last week, just days before Russian troops moved into eastern Ukraine. “Tucker Carlson Slams Biden for Focusing on Putin, Ukraine Instead of US Domestic Problems,” reads another in Sputnik News, reflecting a common Russian practice: cite government critics in the U.S. (like Fox News host Carlson) to suggest America’s leaders are out of touch. —AP News