Foreign Office launches crack unit to counter Kremlin misinformation on social media

The UK government is taking out adverts on Russian social media to counter the Kremlin’s narratives about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A newly launched information warfare unit, set up by the Foreign Office at the end of February, is using local agencies to put out adverts on Russian social media platforms including VK, after the country banned Facebook and Twitter.

Launched by Liz Truss last month, the Foreign Office’s new Government Information Cell (GIC) is seeking to “expose lies” about the war in Ukraine, by “countering Kremlin disinformation,” a senior official told the Sunday Telegraph

Based in Whitehall, the GIC has 35 full-time staff from various government departments, including the Foreign Office, Ministry of Defence (MoD), Home Office, Cabinet Office, and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. 

The GIC’s strategy of using Russian advertising firms to post content on social media comes after the Kremlin brought in new rules to hand out 15 year jail terms for those spreading “misinformation” about the war in Ukraine.

The GIC has resorted to posting content on Russian sites after the Kremlin banned the BBC amid its crackdown on Western media.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, one GIC video, in which Boris Johnson says “I do not believe this war is in your name,” was viewed mopre than eight million times.  

The GIC is now preparing to distribute content in Mandarin, amid concerns that China is planning to support Russia’s war efforts.