Dismiss, Distort, Distract, and Dismay

Dismiss, Distort, Distract, and Dismay

Continuity and Change in Russian Disinformation

IES, 2016

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Overview
  • Background


The West has been slow to recognize the formidable threat Russian disinformation campaigns pose to its democracies. According to Jon White from the NATO Special Operations School, Russia’s efforts to distract and spread confusion are modern adaptations of Soviet-era information warfare. White’s policy brief explains how Russia repurposed Soviet propaganda strategies to serve its present needs and how the European Union and NATO might counter this disinformation blitz. getAbstract recommends it to anyone worried about Russia's meddling in foreign elections. 


Many similarities exist between Cold War-era Soviet disinformation campaigns and the current ways Russia spreads divisive social and political messages. During the Soviet era, the Kremlin pursued a two-pronged strategy. “Offensive disinformation,” aimed at decision-makers and the foreign public, involved spreading lies among Soviet sympathizers and those prone to believing conspiracy theories – like the rumor planted in an Indian newspaper that the CIA created the HIV/AIDS virus. The Soviets also engaged in “defensive disinformation,” geared toward the Soviet public. This strategy involved...

About the Author

Jon White is a retired US army officer who teaches at the NATO Special Operations School in Belgium.

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

Oil in Putin’s Russia
The Supply of Disinformation Soon Will Be Infinite
On Digital Disinformation and Democratic Myths

Related Channels