Media outlets RT and Sputnik perform a "damage control" function for the Russian state during incidents such as the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and deploy a range of tactics to project Russian strength and construct news agendas.
The finding comes one year on from the Skripal poisoning, from the first comprehensive study of how RT and Sputnik sow confusion and division in the UK and beyond, carried out by the Policy Institute at King's College London.
The study finds that RT and Sputnik published 138 separate and contradictory narratives about the Skripal poisoning across 735 articles in the four weeks following the incident, incorporating the views of a 'parallel commentariat' and the amplification of Russian government sources
Weaponising news: RT, Sputnik and targeted disinformation (pdf) is based on an analysis of nearly 12,000 articles published in English by the two outlets and over 150,000 online articles by UK news outlets. The articles were collected between May and June 2017, and in March 2018, in the immediate aftermath of the Skripal poisoning.