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Hal Brands

China and Russia's Lies Are Winning Over the Global South

Have you heard that the US created Covid, AIDS is a bioweapon and Ukrainian leaders are Nazis? Unfortunately, Moscow and Beijing are having success spreading such disinformation in the global south. 

Looming large in the developing world.

Looming large in the developing world.

Photographer: Denis Sinyakov/AFP/Getty Images

What US officials once called the Third World was a crucial swing bloc during the Cold War, and it is again in the new cold wars underway. Russia and China see the developing regions as areas where the US position is weak and they can expand their influence. The two autocratic powers are increasingly doing so through aggressive disinformation campaigns that the US has struggled to counter.

For Russian President Vladimir Putin, the developing world is the last refuge of the diplomatic scoundrel. Russian relations with the advanced democracies are in free fall thanks to a series of outrages culminating with the invasion of Ukraine. This makes the Middle East, Africa and Latin America more important to Moscow.