Wednesday

28th Jul 2021

Germany 'main target' of Russian disinformation

  • EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell (l) with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov (r) in February in Moscow (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

"No other EU member state is attacked more fiercely through disinformation than Germany," the EU's disinformation watchdog on Russian disinformation campaigns said on Tuesday (9 March) in a report.

EUvsDisinfo, which is run by the EU's foreign service, has documented 700 cases in which fake or misleading reporting targeted Germany, since the launch of the database in late 2015.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

In comparison, France was a target over 300 times, Italy in some 170 cases and Spain in around 40 cases, according to the report.

Moscow-EU relations have hit new lows in recent weeks, over the poisoning and imprisonment of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

Relations soured even further after the Kremlin humiliated EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell in Moscow, as Russia expelled diplomats from Germany, Poland, and Sweden during the visit.

Berlin has argued for keeping the dialogue open with Moscow and pushed for cooperation with the Kremlin on common interests.

Despite criticism from the EU and the US, Germany also pushed ahead with its Nord Stream 2 pipeline which will carry gas to Europe from Russia via Germany.

"The Kremlin is creating a mental image of a Germany, where a few sane voices are heard among a chorus of irrational 'Russophobia'," the report said.

Germany advocated for sanctions on Russia over Navalny's case, who received medical treatment in Berlin after being poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent last year.

The Kremlin is assumed to be behind the attack, which Moscow denies. Navalny was arrested after returning to Russia. The EU agreed to sanction four senior Russian officials over the Navalny case.

Those came on top of already existing economic sanctions on Russia over the annexation of Crimea and the Moscow's support of armed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Russia is describing Germany as key in driving the new sanctions which had been agreed by EU governments after Borrell's Moscow trip.

"[Russia] intends to create uncertainty, sow discord; give Russian officials room for manoeuvre. Germany can be played against other EU member states, against the EU itself, against other countries…," the report said.

"Germany is singled out as the main target for Russian disinformation efforts among European member states," it added.

One of the stories cited in the report is of a Russian family in Berlin whose three children were taken by the authorities because their well-being had been endangered.

Russian media and politicians used the story to accuse authorities of systematically suppressing Russians in Germany, according to the report.

Stories like this are often not distributed in the German-language versions of Russian media, the report said.

It also noted that the "Kremlin doublespeak exploits Europe's, and Germany's, commitment to dialogue, permanently repeating readiness for talks".

German foreign minister Heiko Maas suggested on Tuesday that a "positive agenda" would be the way to counter disinformation from Russia, Germany press service DPA reported.

Maas said the findings of the EU report are "not surprising," adding that developing ties between civil society in Germany and Russia would also help make sure false information about Germany fell on deaf ears.

The EU's external service analyses publicly available media reports and statements on its EUvsDisinfo website.

Russia humiliates Borrell in Moscow

Russia expelled European diplomats and harangued the EU on human rights, while Borrell went off-script on Cuba in Moscow on Friday.

Opinion

Questions for Germany on EU's Russia strategy

Suspension or cancellation of Nord Stream 2 does not call for a drawn-out search for unanimity by the EU's foreign ministers, nor complex ratification procedures in the European Parliament or member states' parliaments, write three former EU prime ministers.

German Greens face reality check amid CDU gains

Armin Laschet, Angela Merkel's would-be-heir after German's September election, said he would prefer to govern with the liberals - as the Greens continued their slump in the polls.

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU hits vaccination target, as Delta variant now dominates
  2. European arms 'displaced over a million people', research finds
  3. Brexit: what is the 'Lugano Convention' and does it matter?
  4. US maintains summer travel ban on EU tourists
  5. Does democracy need troublemakers?
  6. Separating migrant families at EU borders must stop
  7. Germany mulls restrictions for unvaccinated as cases soar
  8. 'Prison island' birthplace of EU reborn as think-tank venue

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us