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U.K. Slip-Up Hands Russia the Initiative in War of Spin Over Spy Poisoning

Police officers in forensics suits and protective masks work next to a children's park at the scene of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England on March 13, 2018.

Police officers in forensics suits and protective masks work next to a children's park at the scene of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England on March 13, 2018.

Photographer: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Europe
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When the U.K. government released a video on social media on March 19 to counter what it said was “denial, distraction and disinformation” from Russia over the attempted murder of a former spy in Salisbury, it was an unashamed pitch for the high ground. Britain was staking its position as a bastion of integrity.

It was part of a media strategy run by the Foreign Office to counter extremist and malign content online. While the primary targets of such videos are Islamist militants who use social media to groom and recruit jihadis, officials reasoned the tactic would work against Russia too.