Russian information outlets are recovering from a bad start. How can they be countered? 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stunned not only the world, but apparently the Kremlin’s own propaganda machine. For weeks after the invasion, state-run media outlets aimed at the outside world struggled to construct a coherent explanation of why the country had sent more than 100,000 troops to attack a smaller neighbor which had done it no visible harm, writes Tom Kent in Europe’s Edge.

Now, however, the machine has recovered, becoming more coherent and persuasive, especially in the developing world. How can democratic forces confront these efforts, and maintain broad opposition to the Kremlin’s actions?

When the war began, the West enjoyed a commanding information advantage. US officials had accurately predicted that Russia would invade. Months of Kremlin denials were exposed as lies. World audiences were transfixed by the brutality of the invasion, Russia’s military failures, and Ukraine’s astonishing resistance. The first enduring images of the war were a Ukrainian tractor pulling a captured Russian tank from the battlefield, and a haughty and sneering Vladimir Putin berating his senior advisers in a comically grandiose room.

But as the war drags on, world opinion has become less united. Few defend the invasion outright, but rising economic dislocation and the prospect of a wider war have led some to urge Ukraine to work on a compromise with its invader. In countries outside Europe, many see the war as someone else’s problem, viewing it largely through the prism of their usual perspectives about Russia and the West. A recent headline on RT’s French website read, “Defend Ukraine? Not our business, Africa replies.”

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