In a recent report by Dan Whitman, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute based in Philadelphia, alarming findings reveal that Russia’s disinformation campaign in Africa is making significant strides. Described as the “most rapid propaganda successes in the history of propaganda,” this report sheds light on the concerning developments in the realm of information warfare.
Whitman’s report, recently published by the US-based Foreign Policy Research Institute, delves into the details of Russia’s increasingly successful disinformation efforts in Africa. It highlights that Moscow’s propaganda victories have been swift and unprecedented, causing serious concerns about the impact on the region. The success of Russia’s disinformation campaign is attributed to several factors, including the alignment of Wagner Group-Kremlin narratives with Russia’s interests, the relative lack of opposition to Moscow’s falsehoods from both Western and African nations, and the difficulty in distinguishing between coordinated Kremlin propaganda and aggressive military actions.
The consequences of this disinformation campaign may prove to be more enduring and harmful than mere military disruptions. Whitman warns that Russia’s mastery of the disinformation system has outmaneuvered Western governments’ attempts to counter it. Russia’s expertise in active measures, dating back to the Cold War and beyond, forms the foundation of its interference in various countries, including high-profile cases like the United Kingdom’s Brexit, the US 2016 elections, and attempts to sow discord in Western Europe. Unfortunately, Western responses to these challenges have been lackluster at best.
Recognizing the ethical concerns associated with countering Russian disinformation with underhanded tactics, Whitman suggests an alternative approach. He calls on Western governments to collaborate with non-governmental organizations in Africa and other regions to pool their resources and combat the growing influence of Russian disinformation. This coordinated effort is seen as essential in addressing the rising threat and safeguarding the integrity of information in the affected regions.