Question (even) more? RT (Russia Today) and Information Security in Europe.

The ongoing deterioration in relations between Russia and various countries in North America and Western Europe has vastly increased the level of interest in the information threat posed by Russia. There have been a number of reports from politicians, intelligence communities, academics and journalists concerning Russian ‘fake news’, ‘disinformation’ and ‘hybrid warfare’ (CEPA/Legatum Institute, 2016; European Values, 2017; US Director of National Intelligence, 2017; RAND Corporation, 2018) together with a raft of high-profile civil initiatives aimed at combatting some of these threats (e.g. Hamilton 68; EuVsDisinfo; StopFake). Within this context, politicians in various European countries (including the UK and France) have debated either boycotting or banning “Putin’s propaganda network”, RT. Yet there is reason to doubt how effective proposed measures are likely to be. In particular, the frequent conflation of phenomena within the information/hybrid warfare genres masks the sharp differences in their targets, objectives and effectiveness. This paper focuses specifically on Russia’s state-funded international broadcaster, RT. Based on research undertaken as part of the first comprehensive scholarly study into RT’s output and audiences, it argues that present political approaches to the network are not only largely ineffective, but often counter-productive. The paper makes a series of recommendations for re-thinking European responses to Russian international broadcasting.