By Robert Foster
In the midst of numerous Russian hacking allegations by Western powers, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu officially announced the creation last week of a new branch of military: information warfare troops.
This is not the only change we are seeing in the Russian military. They are also upgrading their arsenal by adding intercontinental ballistic missiles, new aircraft, tanks and armored vehicles, along with new naval ships. Shoigu stated that these upgrades have led to the need for a large amount of personnel that will be recruited by 2018.
Shoigu would not comment on the info warfare troop’s mission. However, retired Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, now head of the Defense Affairs Committee in the lower house of Parliament, vaguely described their task to “protect the national defense interests and engage in information warfare” and “fend off enemy cyberattacks,” as reported to Interfax news agency. The head of the upper house Defense and Security Committee, Viktor Ozerov, told Interfax that the troop’s mission was not to engage in any hacking of other countries, but to prevent and protect Russia’s data systems from falling victim to attack.
As of late, Russia has been accused of hacking and influencing U.S. election results. The U.S., however, is not the only country worried that this could happen again. EU officials are wary of the same thing happening in this year’s elections being held in France, Germany and the Netherlands. Russian officials intend to use their new information warfare troops to ward off what they consider “Western propaganda” in regards to these accusations.