Australia, along with a majority of the world’s nations, has issued Russia with another round of severe sanctions.
The economic strings are tightening against Vladimir Putin, who appears to have underestimated the global response to the invasion of Ukraine.
Even China, widely acknowledged to have known about the invasion before it took place and who is a loyal partner to Russia, has stepped back from the fray.
This time, Australia’s sanctions involve targeting disinformation and propaganda.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been accompanied by a widespread disinformation campaign, both within Russia and internationally,” said Payne.
“Tragically for Russia, President Putin has shut down independent voices and locked everyday Russians into a world characterised by lies and disinformation.”
It has been claimed that Russia has, for years, utilised the internet to spread propaganda as an extension of its USSR regime only on an updated medium.
Propaganda and coercion of the press remain common features of dictatorial regimes like Putin’s Russia.
Last week, Russia passed a new law to deal with ‘fake’ war reports. Anyone who spreads what the Kremlin considers to be ‘information that goes against Russia’s actions in Ukraine’ or refers to the war as anything other than a ‘special military operation’ will face 15 years in prison. While incorrectly labelled an action against ‘fake news’, it effectively silences accurate reporting of events, causing international media outlets to flee Russia.
“I want everyone to understand, and for society to understand, that we are doing this to protect our soldiers and officers, and to protect the truth,” said the Speaker of the Russian Lower House, Vyacheslav Volodin.
Australia’s Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, has identified ten people who are of ‘strategic interest’ to Russia’s propaganda campaign and initiated sanctions against them for promoting and encouraging hostility toward Ukraine. Described by Payne as ‘propagandists and purveyors of disinformation’, the ten individuals are also accused of attempting to legitimise Russia’s invasion.
“Tragically for Russia, President Putin has shut down independent voices and locked everyday Russians into a world characterised by lies and disinformation,” added Payne. “Together with partners, we will drive Russia out of our economies, supply chains, and airwaves.”
Putin has already said that imposing sanctions on Russia will be considered an ‘act of war’. Most of those countries however, see the Russian threat as something that must be met sooner or later.