A new cold war has chilled Moscow, where the Russian government is conducting an international counterattack against so-called Western-leaning news agencies and broadcasters such as Reuters, the Associated Press (AP), CNN and the BBC.

The strategy appears simple but is effective, and is best described as relaying the “opposite” news to that projected by the mainstream media. For every AP article or CNN segment about Russian “aggression” in the Middle East or Africa, Sputnik provides the “truth” – which mostly portrays Russian military interventions as quests for justice and peace, blessed by the affected country.

In November 2014, by an executive order from President Vladimir Putin, state news agency Rossiya Segodnya launched Sputnik, a government-owned online and radio international news agency aimed at non-Russian-speaking audiences.

Sputnik operates with a budget of 91‑million rubles and reports mainly on political and economic news, with regional offices in Washington, Cairo, Beijing and London.

The propaganda war was supposed to have ended in 1990 but it was never going to be easy to wish away decades of indoctrination in Russia.