Cover: Russia's Use of Media and Information Operations in Turkey

Russia's Use of Media and Information Operations in Turkey

Implications for the United States

Published Aug 28, 2018

by Katherine Costello

Download Free Electronic Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.2 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Russian media have sought to undermine Turkey's political and security cooperation with the United States and Europe by exacerbating mutual skepticism and highlighting policy differences. In Turkey, Russian media have also contributed to anti-American discourse and have reinforced and informed the Turkish government's own propaganda pursuits. This analysis assesses how Russia has used media and information operations to pursue its foreign policy goals related to Turkey. It examines Russian media responses to three significant events in Turkey: (1) Turkey's November 2015 shootdown of a Russian military aircraft, (2) the July 2016 Turkish coup attempt, and (3) the December 2016 assassination of the Russian ambassador. Russian media efforts following these events exemplify the propaganda strategies of amplification of genuine uncertainty, creation of opportunistic fabrications, and use of multiple contradictory narratives. These strategies have supported Russian foreign policy objectives, which include undermining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and fomenting mutual suspicion between Turkey and its Western allies; enlisting Ankara's support and impeding its opposition to Russian actions in Eurasia and the Middle East; and influencing Turkish internal political developments to make Turkey a more compliant partner. The U.S. government, NATO, and independent media watch groups should take steps to monitor Russian media efforts in Turkey and outside coverage of Turkey. In addition, the U.S. government, other governments, and media watch groups should continue to monitor Turkish government efforts to stifle independent media in the country and to create a propaganda arm that may emulate well-honed Russian practices.

Research conducted by

This Perspective was sponsored by the U.S. Army and produced within the RAND Arroyo Center’s Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program. RAND Arroyo Center, part of the RAND Corporation, is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the United States Army.

This commentary is part of the RAND expert insight series. RAND Expert Insights present perspectives on timely policy issues. All RAND Expert Insights undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.