Russia admits cyber programme

Russia admits cyber programme

The Reichstag is being recreated for Russian child soldiers. Source: Wikimedia

The Russian armed forces have admitted for the first time to the scale of its information warfare effort.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said “information troops” were involved in “intelligent, effective propaganda”. The admission follows repeated allegations of cyber attacks against Europe and the US.

Nato is thought to be the top target.

Shoigu told MPs “we have information troops who are much more effective and stronger than the former ‘counter-propaganda’ section”.

Keir Giles of the Chatham House think-tank warned that Russian “information warfare” occupied a wider sphere than the west’s focus on “cyber warriors” and hackers.

“The aim is to control information in whatever form it takes,” he wrote in a Nato report.

“Unlike in Soviet times, disinformation from Moscow is primarily not selling Russia as an idea, or the Russian model as one to emulate.

“In addition, it is often not even seeking to be believed. Instead, it has as one aim undermining the notion of objective truth and reporting being possible at all,” the military analyst wrote.

Russia has targeted individual soldiers through social media, Giles told the BBC.

“They have been reaching out to individuals and targeting them as if it comes from a trusted source,” Giles said.

Former Russian commander-in-chief Yuri Baluyevsky said success in cyber warfare “can be much more important than victory in a classical military conflict, because it is bloodless, yet the impact is overwhelming and can paralyse all of the enemy state’s power structures”.

The Russian military is also building a replica of Berlin’s Reichstag as a playground for children to attack at a patriotic theme park.

Shoigu said the model German parliament, just outside Moscow, would be used during cadet exercises.

The Yunarmia, or Young Army, was established in 2015 to boost patriotism, provide physical and military training.

Shoigu told MPs it was being built so child soldiers could “storm a specific location, not something abstract”. He did not say if it would be open to the public.

The Reichstag fell to the Red Army in 1945 and is an icon for its annual Victory Day celebrations on May 9.

The 1894 parliament was burned by the Nazis in 1933 and reopened as the legislature for a united Germany in 1999.

The minister said the Patriot Park, due to be opened later this year, would boast a replica of a Soviet forest insurgency camp, arms exhibits and military shows.

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