Russian intelligence services are trying to separate Texas from the United States and provoke a civil war in America over migrants - ForumDaily
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Russian intelligence services are trying to separate Texas from the United States and provoke a civil war in America over migrants.

A widespread Russian disinformation campaign is fueling divisions in the United States over the Texas border crisis. To do this, the Russian Federation uses everything from high-ranking legislators and government officials to influential individuals, bloggers, bots and large state media, reports Wired.

Photo: iStock.com/pilli

Russia is directing its disinformation efforts to Telegram and X, sowing discord in every possible way while promoting the narrative that the US is heading toward civil war.

"People's Republic of Texas"

This serious disinformation campaign began in late January and expanded after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling and sided with President Joe Biden's administration. The administration has authorized U.S. Border Patrol officers to remove dangerous razor wire fencing deployed along the border by the Texas National Guard.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, said the Texas border dispute was "another clear example of the weakening of US hegemony."

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"The 'creation of the People's Republic of Texas' is becoming more and more real," Medvedev added on X, saying the situation could lead to "a bloody civil war that will claim thousands and thousands of lives."

“The time has come for the American president to assemble an international coalition to liberate its inhabitants in the name of democracy,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Telegram. Russian MP Sergei Mironov even offered to help Texas.

“If necessary, we are ready to help with the independence referendum. And, of course, we will recognize the 'People's Republic of Texas' if there is one,” he wrote on the X platform resource.

After these comments, Russian state media, influential persons and bloggers quickly got involved in the case. Over the past two weeks, state media such as Sputnik and RT have called the dispute between the Texas governor and the Biden administration a "constitutional crisis" and a "total disaster." One Sputnik correspondent posted a video on the X website. It says: “There is a large convoy of truck drivers driving there, so the situation could easily get out of control. This could actually lead to a real civil war, with the US Army fighting against US citizens."

Disinformation schemes

According to an analysis provided by Logically, a company that uses artificial intelligence to track disinformation campaigns, Telegram showed clear signs of a coordinated effort to increase discussion around the Texas crisis.

“The idea of ​​targeting highly controversial domestic U.S. issues and disseminating them through one's own channels is a standard Russian disinformation technique,” ​​said Kyle Walter, Logically's research director.

Channels on Telegram include TV presenters, bloggers who write about the Russian military, and social media influencers, each with hundreds of thousands of followers. One account, belonging to Russian TV presenter Vladimir Solovyov, has more than 1,2 million followers, and he claimed that "the US was close to civil war."

“When I try to identify disinformation operations, I need to understand the initial signals and ideas shared by Russian state media and influencers,” Walter explained. “Russian Telegram channels exploded overnight and began actively spreading messages, in particular that Texas could become an independent state, and that a civil war was brewing in the United States.”

Russian state media supported these claims and published a stream of articles with headlines containing phrases such as “Civil War 2.0.” In addition, they spread conspiracy theories and claim that “US elites will keep the border wide open.”

Researchers at Antibot4Navalny, a Russian anti-disinformation group, are closely monitoring a Russian disinformation network known as Doppelganger on X. Data shows that a network of bot accounts previously associated with the Doppelganger campaign was deployed online last week to "discuss" the issue Texas.

While previous Doppelganger campaigns shared links to fake websites with custom articles, this campaign linked to websites that are managed, created and maintained by Doppelganger operatives. One of these articles appeared on the fake website Warfare Inside. It said Texas “has become a battleground symbolizing the clash between state and federal authorities.”

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Some experts link the campaign to previous Russian disinformation operations.

Caroline Orr, a behavioral scientist at the University of Maryland, tracks misinformation online. She wrote in her Weaponized newsletter that the Russian term "free Texas" was "used widely on X and almost exclusively by Russian accounts."

The IRA is a Kremlin-linked troll farm based in St. Petersburg that gained notoriety for its role in attempting to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election. It was led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He ran Wagner's mercenary group until he died in a mysterious plane crash last year.

There appear to be a number of Russian IRA-led accounts on X posing as Texas groups.

One of the suspected accounts, Texan Independence Supporters, has already been cited for errors, as well as constant links to Ukraine and Russia.

“We are a Texas organization, not a Russian one. We can assure you that we are not Russians,” the account wrote on February 25.

Walters says trying to push the Texas crisis is an escalation of the Kremlin's efforts.

“This is the first thing I think you should pay attention to. This is a potentially serious problem. This is an area where they could quite easily cause even more division in the US,” he concluded.

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