Last week's events concerning the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign


The Taliban-Tajik conflict and Russia's political role as mediator.
Russian political presence in the Pandora Papers.
Russia said they held “substantive” arms control talks during second meeting in Geneva.
Russia’s “propaganda ecosystem” a leading threat in foreign disinformation and propaganda says GEC.
RT claim Zelensky’s poor domestic and international performance.
Russia on AUKUS – destroying political dialogue and weakening the West.


Good Old Soviet Joke

A Soviet citizen is buying a car

He finally saved up enough rubles, went to the agency, and paid for a car.
He is told, "Come back on August 8th, 1983 to pick up your new car"
"But that's eight years from now."
"Yes, isn't it wonderful? The wait used to be ten years."
"Okay, fine. August 8th, 1983. Morning or afternoon?"
"It's eight years away. What difference does it make?"
"The plumber is coming in the morning."

Facebook Twitter

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter!

Policy & Research News

The Taliban-Tajik conflict and Russia's political role as mediator

Last Thursday, Russia responded with calls for mediation to the recent buildup of troops near Tajikistan and Afghanistan. The dispute between the Taliban and Tajikistan is related to President Rakhmon's refusal to recognize the Taliban government due to human rights violations. The Taliban responded by complaining of interference into Afghanistan's domestic affairs from the side of the Tajik government. Deputy Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexei Zaitsev stated Russian officials are carefully monitoring the situation and have urged both leaders "to resolve any dispute in a mutually acceptable manner."

Although Russia is acting as a "mediator" in the dispute, it is still early to tell Russia's true political intentions and its possible plan of action. Russia's military has carried out "several live-fire exercises at its base in Tajikistan since the Taliban's rise to power." It is important to note that Russia has not hurried to recognize the Taliban government but is optimistic in developing relations. Ultimately, Russia has a significant strategic military influence on Tajikistan and views the conflict as a barrier to control and stability. It is vital to see if Russia will shift narratives and adopt more of a political or military tactic into this dispute.

Russian political presence in the Pandora Papers

Russia has recently rejected the findings in the Pandora Papers that link Putin in association to various Kremlin officials on the list. The Pandora Papers investigation "based on almost 12 million documents from 14 global financial services companies involving many Western media journalists." The document has linked various "world leaders and their associates to so-called offshore holdings of personal wealth."

For instance, Putin's former relationship with a woman links him with the individual purchase of an extravagant Monaco property through an offshore company in 2003. The Pandora papers also noted, "Konstantin Ernst, one of Putin's closest allies and head of a state-run network,  who was able to buy and develop Soviet-era cinemas and surrounding property in Moscow from funding."

The Kremlins spokesperson Dmitry Peskov disregarded the claims regarding connections to Putin with a lack of substantive evidence in these documents. Although Putin was not directly named, his association does pose serious questions to Russian financial etiquette. It shows that Russia's government still operates under a system of intense fraud and corruption to accumulate financial and political influence.

Facebook Twitter

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter!

US Developments

Russia said they held “substantive” arms control talks during second meeting in Geneva

In a rare joint statement last Thursday, the United States and Russia announced they held “substantive” talks about arms control and risk reduction measures during their second round of strategic talks in Geneva, Switzerland.

The U.S. delegation, led by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, and the Russian delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov agreed to form two working groups ahead of the third plenary meeting. The date of the third meeting is unknown.

Since the Trump administration withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in 2019, the Biden Administration has been working to establish stable ground with Russia on arms control. The first meeting between the delegations took place in July after US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to restart talks in June of this year. The U.S. administration announced that the first round of talks were “substantive and professional” but did not produce any results except a second meeting.

Russia and the US have different views on strategic stability.

In his remarks at the 9th Moscow Conference on International Security in June, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed Russia’s intentions to develop “a new security equation” that accounts for all nuclear and non-nuclear weapons that affect strategic stability. These concerns include the U.S. missile defense system and hypersonic weapons.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has expressed concern about Russia’s new tactical nuclear weapons and new nuclear weapons delivery systems. In addition, the US had the objective to bring China into the arms control process although Beijing has avoided talks on the topic.

Russia’s “propaganda ecosystem” a leading threat in foreign disinformation and propaganda says GEC

According to the latest special report by the American Global Engagement Center (GEC), Russia “continues to be a leading threat” in the field of disinformation and propaganda.

The August 2020 report, issued by the GEC at the U.S. Department of State emphasizes the “propaganda ecosystem” that Russia has developed to disseminate disinformation worldwide.

The GEC lists “five pillars of disinformation” that the Russian ecosystem uses: official government communications, state-funded global messaging, cultivation of proxy sources, weaponization of social media, and cyber-enabled disinformation.

Russia’s multi-dimensional use of outlets including government, state-funded agencies and proxy websites is intentional and impactful the report notes. It states that the use of multiple outlets is designed to introduce several variations of a false narrative. The report added that the use of multi-dimensional platforms to spread disinformation “provides plausible deniability for Kremlin officials” and creates “a media multiplier effect,” where a person’s repeated exposure to various sources with the same message in the propaganda ecosystem will help “boost reach and resonance.”

Alongside detailing Russia’s disinformation campaign, the report reviews seven websites used by the Russian government and proxies to spread propaganda, offering detailed information about each site, including the languages it is written in, the topics written about, engagement levels and related social media platforms. These sites include: The Strategic Culture Foundation, New Eastern Outlook, Global Research, News Front, SouthFront, and Katehon.

Kremlin's Current Narrative

RT claim Zelensky’s poor domestic and international performance

  • In an RT article from Monday 4th October attacking Ukraine, RT claims that at a recent meeting of the “Servant of the People” parliamentary faction, Ukrainian Prime Minister Zelensky described the Kiev’s foreign policy as "arrogant", and assessed the work of his party as "three-plus" on a five-point scale, noting that people "do not have enough experience."
  • RT sources in Ukrainian political circles note that society is dissatisfied with the current administration, and those who voted for Zelensky are disappointed in him. According to experts consulted by RT, Kiev’s "insolent" foreign policy course causes irritation in Europe, and Zelensky’s statements and speeches demonstrate a severe lack of understanding of international processes. The undefined use of “experts” is a common hybrid tactic in Russian disinformation, and the content of the article generally also demonstrates the anti-Ukrainian line that pro-Kremlin media often takes.

Russia on AUKUS – destroying political dialogue and weakening the West

  • Opposition to AUKUS from Russia has been echoed in both Russian media and diplomacy. As reported by RT, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated at the 29th Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy that alliances like the new security partnership AUKUS are aimed at “eroding existing formats of political dialogue in the Asia-Pacific region”.
  • According to Lavrov, the new strategies created by the United States “have an anti-Chinese orientation and undermine existing formats within the ASEAN framework”. RT reported that from the point of view of analysts interviewed by RT, the dilution of the existing formats of cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region is directed against China. This shows the Russian narrative of AUKUS as a creation brazenly and wrongly disrupting geopolitical harmony in the region.
  • Another RT article comments on the recent fallout between France and the US/Australia, arguing a narrative that it shows Western weakness. According to analysts consulted by RT, the current divisions could further weaken solidarity within NATO. One expert from the Academy of Science comments that “behind the back of Paris, three Anglo-Saxon countries entered into a new defense alliance, AUKUS, and suddenly terminated an important contract for the French, inflicting a strong blow on the country's military-industrial complex”. This demonstrates how Russia attacks and aims to diminish Western unity and diplomatic relations as embodied by NATO and AUKUS.

Do you like our work?

Our effort to protect liberal democracy across Europe is dependent on private donations.

Support us

Kremlin Watch is a strategic program of the European Values Center for Security Policy, which aims to expose and confront instruments of Russian influence and disinformation operations focused against the liberal-democratic system.

For comments. suggestions or media inquiries, please contact the Head of the Kremlin Watch Program Veronika Víchová at 

Facebook Twitter
Facebook Twitter

European Values Center for Security Policy

Facebook Twitter Youtube