20 years under Putin: a timeline

Twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, Russia is posing a new challenge to the Western world. Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea early this year and consequent invasion of eastern Ukraine, the West has been forced to face the reality of what Russia has become under president Vladimir Putin’s rule—a revanchist and militarily revitalized country with imperial ambitions.

In less than a decade, the Kremlin has learned to use the principles of liberal democracy against the West, developing innovative propaganda techniques and eventually accomplishing what has been called the “weaponization of information.” The Kremlin has played a crucial role in Russian coverage of the Ukraine conflict: state media, fueled by millions of dollars, has spread blatant misinformation, creating a frenzied atmosphere of suspicion and hostility.

In the twenty-first century, information warfare has become the world’s primary form of warfare, and effective countermeasures have yet to be developed. The report “The Menace of Unreality: How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture, and Money,” authored by two prominent journalists—Michael Weiss and Peter Pomerantsev—aims to help members of governments, civil society, and the media understand how the Kremlin’s propaganda machine works and the challenges it presents to the West. It also provides a set of recommendations for how best to confront these challenges.