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Thursday Briefing: Russia’s Online Attack on Ukraine Aid

WorldAsiaThursday Briefing: Russia’s Online Attack on Ukraine Aid

Russia has intensified its spread of online disinformation in an effort to derail military funding in the U.S. and Europe for Ukraine, according to experts and intelligence assessments. The campaign largely uses harder-to-trace technologies to amplify arguments for isolationism ahead of the U.S. elections.

The stepped-up operations, run by aides to President Vladimir Putin and Russian military intelligence agencies, come at a critical moment in the debate in the U.S. over support for Ukraine. Russian operatives are laying the groundwork for what could be a stronger push to support candidates who oppose aiding Ukraine, or who call for pulling the U.S. away from NATO and other alliances, U.S. officials and independent researchers say.

Investigators say that firms working in the loosely linked “Doppelgänger” network create fake versions of real news websites in the U.S., Israel, Germany and Japan, among other countries. U.S. officials note that their techniques make identifying — and calling out — Russian operations particularly difficult.

U.S. intelligence agencies do not believe that the Kremlin has begun its full-bore influence effort. Putin will probably shift at some point from the anti-Ukraine messaging to influence operations that more directly support the candidacy of Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

Hezbollah fired dozens of rockets from Lebanon into northern Israel yesterday, killing at least one person. The Lebanese militia and political organization said that the rockets were in retaliation for an Israeli strike that killed seven medics in southern Lebanon.

For months, Hezbollah and Israel have traded fire across the Israel-Lebanon border, displacing tens of thousands of people from their homes. The recent attacks come two days after the U.N. Security Council voted for a cease-fire in Gaza. Israel’s air force has kept up a barrage of strikes, and Hamas fighters have continued to attack Israeli soldiers, an indication that the U.N. resolution had failed to persuade either side.

Surveillance in Gaza: Israel is using a previously undisclosed facial recognition program to collect and catalog the faces of Palestinians without their knowledge or consent, according to Israeli officials.

The Biden administration pledged an aggressive effort yesterday to reopen the Port of Baltimore after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed. But the U.S. transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, warned of a “long and difficult path” to full recovery, including the rebuilding of the bridge.

On the ground, investigators were examining data from an on-ship recorder to help determine what caused the disaster, while officials scrambled to limit the economic impact of the disaster, which caused a major disruption to shipping and global supply chains that would most likely ripple for weeks.

The missing workers: Rescuers were still trying to recover the bodies of six construction workers. They are immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, according to the consular authorities and a nonprofit.

Stephen King’s first novel, “Carrie,” is turning 50 this year. To mark the anniversary, we spoke to George R.R. Martin, Sissy Spacek, Tom Hanks, the archbishop of Canterbury and others about the powerful impact King’s work has had on their lives.

If you’re new to King, my colleagues at the Book Review have put together a list of his essential works. One of my personal favorites is “On Writing,” which is something of a memoir as well as an instruction manual. For the scaredy-cats among us, there are even a few books on the list that won’t have you checking under the bed before you go to sleep.

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