Western Intelligence and Counter-intelligence in a Time of Russian Disinformation

21 / 2016
Alexander Lanoszka

Western European countries rely on intelligence to collect information on the capabilities and intentions of friends and foes alike. They also perform counter-intelligence missions in order to hinder the intelligence operations of others. This policy brief highlights how the Russian disinformation campaign strives to enhance Russian deterrence of unfavourable policy responses to its foreign policy actions. It also illustrates how it affects intelligence and counter-intelligence missions undertaken by Western European countries in at least two ways. The first involves increasing the so-called noise-to-signal ratio via the dissemination of preferred narratives through media outlets, Internet trolling on social media, the cultivation of friendly populists in Western Europe, and the manipulation of complex ethnic grievances in Eastern Europe. The second involves creating potential, and exploiting existing, barriers to cooperation between national intelligence agencies via the use of Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks, and its potential violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Western European countries must deepen their cooperation in order to prevent Russia from being successful in its divisiveness.