How to Stand Up to the Kremlin

[Commentary] Whereas Soviet intelligence operatives occasionally tried to plant false stories in Western media outlets, today the Kremlin subcontracts the task to proxies, who spread customized disinformation using fake accounts on social media. These proxies need not even reside in Russia since they can be contacted and compensated via the so-called Dark Web (a parallel, closed-off internet) wherever they live. Different messages can be tailored to specific demographic groups, depending on the Kremlin’s goals, which have ranged from discouraging voter turnout to boosting attendance at political rallies held by Russia’s preferred candidates. 

As more news breaks each day about the extent of Russia’s disinformation campaign and the tactics that Moscow used to manipulate public opinion and exploit the fault lines within U.S. society, it falls on all Americans to be aware and informed citizens. We must collectively reject foreign influence over our democratic institutions and do more to address the challenges within our own communities, rather than allowing demagogues at home and tyrants abroad to drive us apart. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his cronies do not understand that the greatest strength of American democracy is an engaged citizenry. Even if the president refuses to act, we can.

[Joe Biden leads the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and served as Vice President of the United States from 2009 to 2017. Michael Carpenter is Senior Director of the Penn Biden Center and served as US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense from 2015 to 2017.  ]


How to Stand Up to the Kremlin