The OSINT Bunker podcast regularly delves into the intricacies of modern warfare and global conflicts, this time, the panel took a look at Russian disinformation.
In a recent episode, retired Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Crawford, a 20-year veteran of the Royal Tank Regiment, was invited to share his insights on the role of disinformation in modern conflicts.
Drawing from his extensive experience, Crawford offered a nuanced perspective on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the broader global landscape, highlighting the importance of understanding and combating misinformation.
Crawford began by defining misinformation and disinformation, explaining that misinformation is information that’s wrong due to various reasons, while disinformation is the deliberate manipulation of information to present a false picture.
He noted that disinformation is something that the Russians are very good at and have been for a long time. He said, “The difference between Russian disinformation and Western disinformation is that the Russians tend to do it on an epic scale”.
Crawford also discussed the dangers of cognitive dissonance in the face of misinformation, stating, “the biggest one of the biggest enemies of finding the truth is cognitive dissonance, by which I mean, don’t don’t give me that information, because it doesn’t agree with what I think already. And, you know, you see that all the time. And that’s dangerous, because people are closing their minds not opening their minds”.
He emphasised the importance of using multiple sources of information and applying judgment in a mature and reasoned way. He said, “I think we just have to be I think we have to be alive to what’s going on. We have to use multi source, broad spectrum sources of information. And then I think we have to apply our judgement in a mature and sort of reasoned way. And I think that’s the way to combat it”.
Adding to the discussion, co-host George Allison highlighted a specific example of misinformation involving the British aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales. He pointed out how Russian sources misrepresented the situation when the ship was having parts removed (and eventually replaced) for sister-ship HMS Queen Elizabeth whilst in port for repairs.
This news was spun into a narrative that the ship was being scrapped, demonstrating the power and reach of misinformation.
Allison said, “There were claims on various Russian language, Russian English language, channels on Twitter, Facebook, etc that HMS Prince of Wales was being scrapped and out that news grew arms and legs. It just it just kept going. I’m still, you know, I get tags and tweets, for example, people tagging me in with Russian accounts gloating about the ‘news’ that the ship has been scrapped despite being at sea.”
If you want to hear more from Crawford, we recommend heading to his own podcast here.
What is the OSINT Bunker?
The OSINT Bunker is a defence and security-based podcast aimed at expanding people’s knowledge of the geopolitical landscape using open-source intelligence. It fills a niche that most people (most people reading this anyway) have for up-to-date, accurate and balanced information on ongoing conflicts.
What is OSINT? For those who don’t know, OSINT stands for open-source intelligence, which refers to any information gathered from public sources about an organisation, event, individual etc. In practice, that tends to mean information found on the internet, but technically any public information falls into the category of OSINT, whether it’s books or reports in a public library, articles in a newspaper or statements in a press release.
Episodes typically cover the UK and international defence matters.