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20 Feb, 2022 09:24

UK revives Cold War-era unit to fight ‘disinformation’

Britain says the number of “fakes” coming from Moscow “doubled” last week
UK revives Cold War-era unit to fight ‘disinformation’

The UK government has revealed that it is setting up a unit tasked with combatting disinformation from Moscow for the first since the end of the Cold War. 

The new Russia-Ukraine Government Information Cell (GIC) will expose and fight “false information,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told The Mail on Sunday.

“At the end of the Cold War we disbanded our information unit, but the Russians didn’t disband theirs, so we faced years and years of Russian disinformation.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel made a similar point in an op-ed in The Telegraph, writing that the government has brought together experts to “tackle Russian information aggression targeted at the UK.”

Truss said London has already been working to expose Moscow’s plans to take over Ukraine. She pointed to her own statement from last month, in which she claimed that Moscow was planning to install “a pro-Russian leader” in Kiev. Truss’ office released the name of a Ukrainian politician who she said Russia wants to lead a puppet government. She also released the names of four former Ukrainian officials who she said have close links to Russian intelligence services.

“We have seen a doubling of the amount of disinformation activity in the last week, so we know that the Russians are gearing up,” the foreign secretary said, adding that there have been “40 pieces” of fake news from Russia this month. 

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed the alarmist rhetoric coming from London and Washington this month as “propaganda of war.” 

For months, NATO member states have been accusing Russia of amassing troops and military hardware with the intent to invade Ukraine. Moscow denies planning to attack its neighbor, insisting that major troop movements in western Russia and Belarus were part of routine exercises.