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Think Tank Emphasizes Cultural Heritage Has Become One of Russia’s Most Effective Weapons

July 18, 2022

In the latest policy brief from the AC Think Tank, How Does Russia Exploit History and Cultural Heritage for Information Warfare? Recommendations for NATO, authors Daniel Shultz and Christopher Jasparro provide a detailed case study illustrating how historical propaganda and the exploitation of cultural heritage have become a central component of the Kremlin’s information warfare campaigns, orchestrated from the top by Vladimir Putin himself. To combat this threat, they offer recommendations for NATO to raise institutional awareness of this threat in order to promote resilience, effective counters, and a more accurate understanding of adversary intent and vulnerabilities in the information environment.

Since the publication of the brief, news from Ukraine on this topic has been disturbing. On June 12, international experts reported that a specialist gang was committing targeted theft of cultural objects from Ukraine and smuggling them into Russia. “There is a possibility it is all part of undermining the identity of Ukraine as a separate country by implying legitimate Russian ownership of all their exhibits,” said Brian Daniels, an anthropologist and research associate at the Smithsonian Institution.

In light of this and other reports, the AC was pleased to convene top military and heritage experts this month to hear directly from Shultz and Jasparro on their recommendations as well as key insights from recent developments. This presentation was followed by a moderated discussion on counter-messaging, awareness-raising, and institutionalized training to combat Russian aggression. Due to the sensitivity of the subject, this briefing was closed-door, with invitees composed of representatives from government, the military, law enforcement, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and academia. This event is just one example of how the AC Think Tank is working to bring high-quality, innovative, and results-oriented research directly to decision makers.

For a summary and link to the policy brief, visit: