March 7, 2022 | Sky News

Sasha Havlicek on the battle against Putin: “There are seeds of hope, if we can sustain it”

ISD’s CEO Sasha Havlicek joined Sky News’ The Great Debate on Monday during primetime as a panelist, debating the question: Can the West stop Vladimir Putin?

During the conversation with host Trevor Phillips, Sasha talks about the recent “seeds for hope” in pushing back against Putin, thanks to significant military support from countries like Germany, weapon shipments to the region, and the EU bringing the policy of enlargement back on the table, opening the debate once again for EU membership for Ukraine. “There are seeds of hope, if we can sustain it,” Sasha said.

However, the battle on the ground isn’t the only theatre of war, as the West and Russia also wage an information war—one that Russia has long prepared for. Russia has extensively relied on the control of information as a pillar of their domestic and international policy, investing heavily in building up an international information infrastructure, Sasha explains. In addition to their international state-controlled outlets RT and Sputnik, Russia has the support of a massive network of pro-Kremlin influencers, and has further developed and utilised tactics like bots, troll farms and hacking that have gone unchecked for years.

But the EU is fighting back. The 27-country bloc’s decision to ban Russian state broadcasters RT and Sputnik from the mainstream on 2 March indicates the Union’s commitment in further isolating Russia, and blocking any more information operations.

When asked about the endgame behind Russian propaganda by one viewer, Sasha said: “The endgame is really to undermine the liberal world order and the liberal democracies that underpin it. It is to undermine the very concept of truth and a shared reality. In the context of this war, it has laid the foundations for a domestic audience and for a Russian audience in Ukraine and elsewhere for this conflict. Providing reasons for this conflict; Telling the people that this is about saving the people of Ukraine from a Nazi regime; saving Russians from an attack on the country.”

Sasha Havlicek is Co-Founder and CEO of ISD, and has spearheaded ISD’s pioneering research and data analysis, digital education, policy advisory, training, tech and communications programmes.

Watch the full episode of The Great Debate.

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