The Breach Report: March 1, 2024

Russia seeks to exploit "war fatigue" in upcoming US Elections

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Russia is spreading disinformation to exploit Western “War Fatigue” of Ukraine

By Russia’s calculations, the U.S. loses either way.

If there was any doubt that Russia was seeking to influence and meddle with the upcoming 2024 U.S. Presidential elections, it could be laid to rest. Russia is attempting to meddle in upcoming U.S. Presidential Elections by playing to U.S. Republican and Democrat agendas with disinformation campaigns.

According to research by Recorded Future, Russia is operating disinformation campaigns where one seeks to spread support for U.S. support of Ukraine and another to suspend or limit future support for Ukraine. According to Russia's logic, either outcome leads to political instability in the U.S. and would hurt whomever the U.S. elects as its next President.

Russia is specifically sowing disinformation to influence Western media and link to Western news outlets that support the Russian-curated narrative, according to researchers.

The Reflexive Control Decision Conundrum

The tactic used by Russia is the “Reflexive Control Decision Conundrum,” a military strategy that dates back to the Soviet Union. In the Cold War era, it was used as a means of influence by the Soviets for nuclear armament and posturing. It was also paired with Soviet-era “Correlation of Forces” calculations, where enemy attrition and “information confrontation” can be derived.

A chart of the U.S., Ukraine, and Russia’s potential outcomes within the Reflexive Control Decision Conundrum, where either path benefits Russia. Russia has employed the tactic since the era of the Soviet Union.

A chart of the U.S., Ukraine, and Russia’s potential outcomes within the Reflexive Control Decision Conundrum, where either path benefits Russia. Russia has employed the tactic since the era of the Soviet Union. (Recorded Future)

If the U.S. continues supporting Ukraine, the economic and financial impact could degrade the U.S. currency, cause more inflation, and affect our GDP. “War fatigue” will lead many of the Republican or conservative voters to (ironically) seek an end to the Democrat party’s public promises to “do whatever it takes” and “not walk away” from Ukraine.

But if the U.S. military equipment and financial aid are severely cut or suspended to Ukraine, Russia will be seen as victorious in the conflict. The U.S. economic and political parties will eventually return to pre-conflict stability, but the U.S. will have a black eye with a “defeat” internationally. Both the U.S. and Ukraine will have diminished influence. After a horrific end to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the U.S. doesn’t need any further embarrassment.

Either way, Russia remains victorious with a weakened U.S. international posture, potential further division amongst its population, and perhaps a weakened military.

Disinformation campaigns: Not unlike marketing

Russia is essentially performing an A/B test, a tactic every marketing and advertising firm or product-centric corporation uses. Like an advertising firm, Russia isn’t sure which campaign messaging will produce a more successful outcome. So, it will test both approaches and see how they manipulate the U.S. media, voters, and citizen consciousness.

Either campaign damages the U.S., according to Russia. Even a perceived “Russia defeat in Ukraine” would only be by Western media messaging. Russia could continue to perform its information warfare and disinformation campaigns within its borders on its people.

Russia doesn’t have to get it all right in either campaign or use new tactics to win. Russia has been spreading disinformation campaigns about Ukraine since it invaded the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. It just has to work with even a fraction of the targeted population segment to start having an impact. Create discord and doubt, and let it organically sow further disruption amongst a wider population.

How does a new toy or pair of sneakers reach mass marketing appeal? Not unlike the above methods. Identify a target audience, create a compelling “hook” to influence a call to action, and let the product market scale as much as possible. Create a campaign with messaging that aligns with Gen Z and another for Gen X. Pivot your campaigns when necessary.

So does Russia have it all figured out?

You might be tempted to think that Russia has cracked the code on how to influence and manipulate foreign elections. That may seem like a reasonable conclusion based on the research and report from Recorded Future. But it wouldn’t be highly probable.

And the U.S. will no doubt take action to mitigate or counter Russian disinformation campaigns.

So is there any hope for the U.S. no matter what course our elected leaders in government take?


The Soviet Union, despite all their brilliant calculations and tactics, still fell. The calculations – mathematical or societal – can still be wrong. And it’s highly likely they will be.

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Until next time…

Rob Waters
Founder, The Breach Report + Cybersecurity Careers Blog

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