Russia has turned RT and other state media outlets from a means of soft power into an information weapon against the West. How did this transformation occur, and how does RT wage information warfare?
The Russian state media network Russia Today was founded in 2005 and has since become the Kremlin’s main instrument of influence on the international audience. The network’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, has openly admitted that it is waging an information war against the West and has compared RT to the Russian Ministry of Defense.
Especially since 2009, when Russia Today was reorganized into RT, the network has become notorious for targeting European and other societies with polarizing and divisive rhetoric, promoting and reinforcing conspiracy theories, spreading disinformation and undermining liberal democracy.
The report, RT in Europe and Beyond, is the result of a collective effort by academics, journalists, experts and civil society representatives who have for the first time examined RT and its services in English, French, German and Spanish, as well as RT’s problematic reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and its use of conspiracy theories.

The conflict over Ukraine is the reason for Russia’s global media offensive. Moscow considers the post-Soviet space to be its exclusive sphere of influence and is trying to prevent Ukraine’s rapprochement with the EU. This “integration competition” with the EU fuels the Russian leadership’s perception that this is a new Cold War with the West. Their media offensive is part of their concept of information warfare as part of hybrid warfare. Documents on the activities of two senior presidential representatives, Surkov and Gromov, show that this global media campaign is centrally organized and controlled by Moscow.
In Germany, RT Deutsch, Sputnik with SNA-Radio, Ruptly, and the new online companies Maffick Media and Redfish are working to create a negative public perception of German media, which they see as manipulated. In doing so, they present themselves as an independent alternative. But this is not true: these media outlets are funded by the Russian state budget and are administratively integrated into the Kremlin-controlled media network. They are the Kremlin’s mouthpieces and spread its positions and narratives.


Russian (fake) version of history: between propaganda and news
The previous version of the “About Us” section on RT 10’s website read: “Our goal is to show a different point of view, as well as to expose media manipulation”. It went on to say: “With its German program, RT aims to counteract the one-sided and often interest-oriented mainstream media.” Interestingly, this section has since been amended11 and no longer mentions the terms “mainstream media” and “counter-community” often used by populists. 12 However, the reporting style, view of world events, political affiliations and positions have not changed. It is this program, which is subtly echoed in some reports, that makes RT DE so dangerous.

online companies Maffick Media

Founded back in 2005 as a state-funded foreign media outlet, Russia Today was still a latecomer in Germany. It was only in 2014 that Russia Today launched a German-language website; this consisted of videos such as “Der fehlende part” (“The missing part”), online articles, and social media accounts. It called itself RT Deutsch, and in 2020 renamed itself RT DE. Both names are used.Unlike how it started in the UK, RT was not initially licensed as a classical television station in Germany. Therefore, it could not distribute television programs through conventional channels such as cable and antenna. So, although RT has been aiming to establish a television station in Germany since 2014, this did not become a reality immediately. However, in April 2021, RT DE program director Alexander Korostelev said in an interview with the French-German television station Arte that “[we] have always been working on this.”