Alina Polyakova is president and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). Prior to joining CEPA, Polyakova was the founding director of the Project on Global Democracy and Emerging Technology and a fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, where she led the Foreign Policy program’s Democracy Working Group. Polyakova was part of the inaugural class of David M. Rubenstein fellows at Brookings. Her work examines Russian political warfare, European populism, digital authoritarianism, and the implications of emerging technologies to democracies. Polyakova's book, "The Dark Side of European Integration" (ibidem-Verlag and Columbia University Press, 2015) analyzed the rise of far-right political parties in Europe. She is a frequent contributor to The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, and commentator in major media outlets including Fox News, CNN, BBC, and Bloomberg, among others.
To what degree the Jigsaw experiment [of buying a social media disinformation campaign] really exposed that practice deserves scrutiny...[I] support the idea of the research in theory, but Jigsaw never published its results—and still hasn't, even now...I don’t think policymakers or your average citizen gets how dangerous this is, that the cost of entry is so low...As an experiment, I don't think this is a problem. What I do think is a problem is not actually publicizing it.
I do not see any movement on any of the core issues coming out of [the] meeting [between Secretary Pompeo and President Putin]...Given the numbers of competition and conflict between the United States and Russia, this meeting will not move the needle.
The [Russian] strategy [in 2016] was to kind of channel a narrative and then amplify it...And for that reason Twitter and also Facebook have been a lot better at identifying this kind of strategic manipulation. So when you have 10,000 automated accounts come online all at the same time, that’s pretty easy to pick up, just as a clear, clear example...
Russia is not a partner, it's not a friend, it's an adversary...This is not a country we need another reset with, this is not a country that shares any of our interests...in fact, U.S. interests are completely opposed to what the Russians want to see in the world, which is a decline in U.S. power.
There’s a joke going around at that: ‘We haven’t got [indoor] toilets in one-fifth of Russian homes, but hey, we can get the American president elected,’...[But] it’s not about specific candidates, it’s not about elections. It’s a continuous slow drip that tries to chip away at the legitimacy of Western democracies. And we focus so much on elections—which we should—but we’ve completely missed the bigger picture,
[Vladimir Putin] only paid lip service to warmongering comments, but he spent most of the speech assuring Russians that he was aware of day-to-day hardships...It’s amazing how much time he spent talking about sewage.”
The political will isn’t there to push as hard as they’d have to to convince the oligarchs Putin can’t guarantee the security of their assets...if they do go so far...there are second- and third-tier knock-on effects because of Russia’s integration into the global economy.
The Kremlin sees conspiracies everywhere primarily because they don’t believe in the idea of independent media or civil society...This is how the Russian government justifies its very real interventions in the U.S. and other democracies.