Mercer, an ex-Army officer who had just returned from visiting Syrian refugee camps, warned that Putin’s intervention in Syria served only to increase the conflict in a country where there were no clear good guys. Pomerantsev argued that Putin and the Chinese were both waging a constant ‘soft war’ of propaganda—using not weapons but media (both domestic and international) to promote an image of their countries as both invincible and victims of the west.

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