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Moscow boosts spending on media ‘black ops’

Moscow green-lighted a massive increase in spending last year on RT, the Kremlin’s English-language TV channel, and other services including news agency Sputnik, as part of a media “black ops” campaign, Britain’s The Times has reported.

RT, formerly known as Russia Today, has been accused by critics of being a propaganda mouthpiece aiming to promote Moscow’s interests.

The Times said that total spending by Moscow on television, radio and online services abroad was increased last year to some EUR 300 million (USD 338m) from an initially planned EUR 178.5m.

According to the paper, the hike was attributed to the opening of RT’s London office and other “channels broadcasting in German and French”.

The Times added that Sputnik has opened a new HQ in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO’s new top military commander, recently said at a security conference that the United States and the Western military alliance should continue to invest to outpace the capabilities of the Russian military.

“We see the activity in cyberspace, we see influence in Europe in terms of political parties’ funding, [we see] some misinformation to build facts on the ground that really aren’t true,” he said.

Scaparrotti added: “When you look at the spectrum of conflict, it begins at activities below the threshold of conflict in order to set conditions and perhaps even be successful in [Russia’s] objectives without even approaching a conflict.”

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama said last week that Russia could try to influence the US presidential election, adding that Moscow may have been behind the leak of hacked Democratic National Committee emails.

In the November US election, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will take on Hillary Clinton, who has received the Democratic Party’s nomination.

Clinton’s campaign has accused hackers working for Russia of releasing the Democratic National Committee emails to sow discord in the party and help Trump.

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