In the Thick of It

A blog on the U.S.-Russia relationship

From Cockroaches to Weather: What’s Russia Weaponizing?

April 30, 2021
RM Staff

In a Foreign Affairs essay published online in December 2017, former Vice President Joe Biden accused Russia of weaponizing corruption, among other things. “Russia has invaded neighboring countries… More frequently and more insidiously, it has sought to weaken and subvert Western democracies from the inside by weaponizing information, cyberspace, energy and corruption,” he wrote together with his co-author, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Carpenter. Biden’s observation made us wonder what else Russia has been accused of weaponizing in recent years. Here’s the list we have come up with:

A Beluga whale (The Washington Post, 04.29.19)

Bigotry (The Daily Beast, 10.19.18)

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s gas dependence (RUSI, 04.29.21)

Corruption (Eurasianet, 07.12.21, Foreign Affairs, 06.09.20)

Cyber security products (The Washington Post, 12.16.20)

Charlie Sheen (Foreign Policy, 09.23.20)

Diplomatic expulsions (CNN, 06.10.21)

Disability (Euromaidan Press, 03.28.17)

Dolphins (AFP, 03.09.16)

Energy sector (The Hill, 10.17.17)

Facebook (Bloomberg, 08.07.18)

Federalism (Ukrainian Canadian Congress, 12.04.15)

Fossil fuel supplies (EU Observer, 11.30.18)

Giant squid (Express, 11.30.16)

History (Russian Life Magazine, July/August 2007, CSIS, 05.14.19)

Hybrid business (RFE/RL, 07.20.16)

Infrastructure underpinning democratic societies (Foreign Affairs, 12.11.18)

Interdependence (Financial Times, 12.05.18)

The Internet (New York Times, 11.12.19)

Interpol red notices (The Atlantic, 07.30.18, Newsweek, 11.20.18)

Its financial default (Russia Insider, 09.19.15)

Its national trauma (Read Russia, 09.18.15)

Its own population (Real Clear World, 12.03.17)

Jedi mind tricks (Vice, 04.29.14)

Journalists (ECFR, 05.19.16)

Language (Bloomberg, 11.07.19)

Legal authorities (Financial Times, 04.21.20)

Media (The Atlantic, 04.21.15, CNN, 08.13.21)

Migration (BBC, 03.02.16)

Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline (RFE/RL, 05.28.18)

The Open Skies Treaty (The Washington Post, 05.28.20)

Orthodoxy, as in Russian Orthodox Christianity (Department of Defense white paper via Politico, May 2019)

Peace in Colombia (Department of Defense white paper via Politico, May 2019)

Pop singers and rock stars (ECFR, 05.19.16)

Postmodernism (London School of Economics, July 2019)

Puppies (AP, 01.02.18)

Racism in the U.S. (CNN, 07.02.18)

Robotic cockroaches (Modern Notion, 09.28.15)

Social media (NPR, 11.05.17, Foreign Affairs, 04.16.19)

Space (The Washington Post, 03.01.19)

Syrian refugees (RFE/RL, 02.19.16)

Tradition/the Orthodox Church (CSIS, 09.25.20)

Twitter (Bloomberg, 08.07.18)

Vaccination debate (The American Journal of Public Health, Oct. 2018)

Weather (Daily Mail, 02.15.15)

Wheat (Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Fall 2020)

This list was originally published on Dec. 13, 2017, and has been updated periodically since, including most recently on Jul. 14, 2021.

Photo by Pexels shared under a Pixabay license. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.