A bombshell Washington Post investigation has revealed that the Pentagon is conducting a “sweeping audit of how it conducts clandestine information warfare,” after a variety of social media accounts, which its operatives used to target foreign audiences in elaborate psychological warfare efforts, were exposed.
The accounts violated platform rules and were eventually busted by researchers and the social networks they weaponized.
US defense policy advisor Colin Kahl is reported to have demanded that every Pentagon division engaged in “psychological operations online” provides a full account of their activities by October, due to high-level concerns that “attempted manipulation of audiences overseas” by the Department of Defense have significantly overstepped the mark.
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Those fears were apparently stoked by the release of a landmark report in August by social media analytics firm Graphika, and the Stanford Internet Observatory, which found that over the past five years, hundreds of accounts disseminating pro-Western narratives - such as a recent propaganda blitz that “advanced anti-Russia narratives,” including criticism of the Kremlin’s “imperialist” war in Ukraine - were likely being run by the Pentagon’s Centcom unit.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell told the BBC on Saturday that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin could use nuclear weapons if Moscow’s forces are “pushed into a corner.” Borrell called for a peace deal, but his suggested agreement is likely a non-starter.
The conflict in Ukraine has reached a “dangerous moment,” the diplomat told the British broadcaster. “It's a dangerous moment because the Russian army has been pushed into a corner, and Putin's reaction – threatening using nuclear arms – it's very bad.”
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Russian president Vladimir Putin has commented on the prospects of fighting a nuclear war after his US counterpart Joe Biden called on Russia to negotiate a new arms-control deal to potentially replace the landmark New Start treaty. Putin made the remarks on Monday in his letter to participants of the tenth NPT review conference.
“Russia consistently follows the letter and spirit of the Treaty. Our obligations under bilateral agreements with the United States on the reduction and limitation of relevant weapons have also been fully fulfilled,” Putin said, adding that Moscow believes “that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and it must never be unleashed.”
The president said Russia believes all the countries following the NPT rules should have acess to peaceful use of nuclear energy without any conditions. “We’re ready to share our experience in the field of atomic energy with our partners,” he added.