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Russian bot farm discovered in US – ISW

Wednesday, 10 July 2024, 05:42
Russian bot farm discovered in US – ISW
Screenshot of the document of the US Department of Justice with the bot accounts

The US Department of Justice has published documents concerning several hundred accounts and domain names on the X network (formerly Twitter) used by Russian state media and the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia to operate a bot farm spreading disinformation in the US and abroad.

Source: Institute for the Study of War (ISW)

Details: The Department of Justice (DoJ) announced the seizure of two domain names and the search of 986 accounts on X linked to an AI-enhanced bot farm created by Russian state media network RT and operated by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).


This bot farm used AI to fabricate social media profiles impersonating US citizens to disseminate messages supporting Russian government goals. RT leadership has been seeking alternative methods to distribute Russian narratives beyond its international TV broadcasts since at least 2022 and began establishing this bot farm in April 2022.

The Kremlin approved and provided financial backing for this operation in early 2023.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the DoJ's actions have disrupted a Russian AI-enabled propaganda campaign designed to spread disinformation across US and international social media platforms.


The DoJ reported that X voluntarily suspended the remaining identified bot accounts. These accounts promoted debunked narratives and Kremlin talking points about the war in Ukraine, including claims that parts of Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania were "gifts" from Russia.

The bot farm also disseminated video content, such as a video of Russian leader Vladimir Putin asserting that the war in Ukraine is not about territorial conflict or geopolitical balance but about the "principles on which the New World Order will be based".

To quote the ISW’s Key Takeaways on 9 July:

  • Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a joint statement on 9 July about strengthening mutually beneficial political, economic, energy and military-technical cooperation between Russia and India.
  • Putin has been intensifying efforts to strengthen Russian relations with non-Western countries through individualised appeals, although he is likely emphasising Russo-Indian cooperation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and BRICS as part of a wider Russian effort to create an alternative "Eurasian security architecture" leveraging existing Eurasian multilateral organisations.
  • Modi tacitly supported the Kremlin's false narrative that Russia is interested in a peaceful, negotiated resolution to the war in Ukraine, likely in exchange for deepening economic, energy and technological cooperation with Russia.
  • Putin may have pledged to return Indian volunteers fighting in Ukraine during a private dinner with Modi in Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Oblast on 8 July.
  • Some unnamed US government officials appear to believe that Ukraine does not need to liberate its occupied lands and people to win the war, despite Russian leader Vladimir Putin's recent clear statements that Russia will not accept a negotiated ceasefire on any terms other than Ukrainian capitulation and will not abandon its goals of the total destruction of the entire Ukrainian state – not just the lands it currently occupies.
  • Several independent investigations, including one conducted by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU), concluded that a Russian missile struck the Kyiv City Okhmatdyt Children's Hospital on 8 July amid continued official Russian denials and deflections.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted a series of drone strikes against Russian energy and military infrastructure in Belgorod, Kursk, Rostov, Astrakhan and Volgograd oblasts overnight on 8 to 9 July.
  • Russian leader Vladimir Putin appointed new military prosecutors on 8 July, likely in support of ongoing, long-term Russian military reforms.
  • Newly-elected Iranian President Masoud Pezeshkian reiterated Iran's continued willingness to enter a comprehensive strategic partnership with Russia, emphasising the continuity in Iran's support for Russia even under a new presidential administration.
  • The US Department of Justice (DoJ) released affidavits on 9 July for several hundred X (formerly Twitter) accounts and domain names used by Russian state media and security services to operate a bot farm aimed at spreading disinformation in the US and abroad.
  • Russian forces recently made confirmed advances southeast of Chasiv Yar, near Avdiivka and southwest of Donetsk City, and Ukrainian forces recently advanced north of Kharkiv City.
  • Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed a decree ordering the reestablishment of the Saratov Higher Artillery Command School on 8 July, likely as part of ongoing efforts to build out a cadre of Russian officers.
  • Russian authorities continue to deploy Rosgvardia contingents to occupied [territories of] Ukraine to serve law enforcement functions.

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