ICAIE Senior Advisor Doug Farah’s new USIP Research on Russian Influence Campaign in Latin America
Using disinformation, economic coercion, and covert and overt political action, Moscow has sowed anti-US sentiment and weakened democratic institutions in Latin America—a strategic space critical for Washington—while shaping the behavior of Latin American governments in Russia’s favor. This report examines Russia’s strategic interests, objectives, and tactics in Latin America by exploring its use of media platforms, key influencers, and institutions, and it offers recommendations for how US policymakers can begin to push back against expanding Russian influence.
- Moscow’s ongoing disinformation campaigns, part of its global efforts to restore Russia’s former status and counter the US-led Western liberal order, have found fertile ground in Latin America.
- Russia has exploited distrust of the United States by characterizing the latter as intent on resource extraction and endorsing economic policies poorly suited to Latin America, offering Russia as a friendly, less intrusive alternative.
- Successful information operations amplify Russian messaging through Russia-allied media platforms and networks of influential actors, including journalists, social media influencers, diplomats, and intellectuals from both the right and the left.
- Russia’s disinformation campaigns in Latin America, which have been active since early in Vladimir Putin’s presidency, increased around Russia’s 2014 and 2022 invasions of Ukraine. Their effect can be seen in shifting public opinion and in the reluctance of Latin American countries to provide matériel to Ukraine or to participate in sanctions on Russia.
- The United States is not without friends and allies in the region, however, and several paths remain open to bolster relations in a part of the world critical to US strategic interests.