Thursday

17th Jan 2019

Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda

  • Mogherini: EU sources said the Italian diplomat never took much interest in Stratcom (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Eight member states have urged the EU's foreign service to significantly expand its work on countering Russian propaganda.

They said in a letter to EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini that "in the face of unabated third party disinformation campaigns … we see an urgent need to further enhance the EU's StratCom capabilities".

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  • Russian spends hundreds of millions of euros a year on anti-EU propaganda (Photo: de.sputniknews.com)

The EU foreign service created East Stratcom, dealing with the former Soviet region, in late 2015.

It also created the Western Balkans StratCom Task Force over the summer and the South StratCom Task Force, which focuses on Islamist radicalisation, some eight months ago.

The letter called for the "roll-out at full capacity" of the two new branches.

It said all the EU task forces should have "proper funding" and "a firm institutional basis."

It also said they should have "sufficient resources" to be able to buy "innovative technologies, such as media analysis, risk assessment, and big data instruments".

The 12 October letter, seen by EUobserver, was signed by the foreign ministers of six former communist and Soviet states - Croatia, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.

These are on the front line of what the letter called a "sophisticated and intense" campaign, waged by "external actors", to "generate distrust and discontent with the democratic order, to discredit the EU, the transatlantic community and our partners, as well as to weaken our unity."

The letter was also signed by the British and Swedish foreign ministers.

East StratCom circulates online notes that debunk Russian disinformation and has attracted 30,000 followers to its Twitter account.

It also promotes positive coverage of the EU in former Soviet states.

It has just 14 staff, 10 of whom are seconded from EU states or other EU institutions, and four of whom are contracted agents or assistants.

The Western Balkans task force contains two more seconded diplomats.

South StratCom has six more.

The forces do not have their own budgets and do not work together.

The foreign ministers' letter noted that unless they were given a more permanent footing, then "the ability of the EEAS [EU foreign service] to preserve and rely on the knowledge and expertise accumulated over time by the task forces" could be lost.

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