Winning friends and influencing Russians: Three audiences the US should target
The power to sway public opinion is an increasingly essential asset in any state’s toolkit. The war in Ukraine provides a clear example: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has successfully targeted his appeals at specific Western audiences to strengthen global support for his country.

But the United States neglected that power for many years, focusing instead on military and diplomatic capabilities, while Russia has built its own formidable propaganda machine in a Soviet, Cold War-era mold. Combating it—and therefore undermining President Vladimir Putin’s regime—means proactively promoting truth and high-quality information instead of reactively responding to Russian propaganda. On the home front, the United States must consider a defensive strategy to inoculate domestic audiences against Kremlin information operations that seek to poison American public fora. Today, the information environment is global and the American people are a target audience that is in play in unprecedented ways.
Author: Irina Plaks
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