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18th Mar 2019

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Kremlin lies: EU's response to disinformation

  • Russia's disinformation campaigns have become a homeland security issue inside the EU. (Photo: Mehr Demokratie)

Russia's disinformation campaigns have become a homeland security issue inside the EU. Pro-Kremlin disinformation campaigns are not only targeted at Ukraine or the Baltic states.

Germany had its 'Lisa Affair' and further disinformation attacks are intensifying because of Berlin's firm stance on economic sanctions related to Russian military engagement in Ukraine.

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The Netherlands has experienced first-hand how organised disinformation efforts can distort the public debate and influence the outcome of a consultative referendum on the Association Agreement with Ukraine. Pro-Kremlin trolls also heavily engaged in the Brexit campaign, helping the Leave side.

While the EU tries to find a solution to an unprecedented migration crisis, the atmosphere in several EU member states is poisoned by dozens of manufactured disinformation stories a week. Authorities both on national and EU level are lacking a coherent strategy on how to counter this systematic disruptive attack.

To help tackle this issue, the ALDE group hosted a seminar on 23 June in Brussels, featuring leading European experts on pro-Kremlin disinformation campaigns and/or running programmes uncovering disinformation communication.

The European External Action Service (EEAS) East StratCom Task Force, a working group formed in March 2015 to counter Russian propaganda and disinformation, presented its findings.

"Annually the Russian state allocates €1 billion for the operation of state run TV and online media in Russia and beyond", said Guy Verhofstadt, president of the ALDE group in the European Parliament. Sputnik Online, a radio agency financed by the Russian state, is available in 38 languages.

Information war is only one part of the hybrid war which the EU has to face, stressed Petras Austrevicius, ALDE group Vice-President.

"Yesterday it was the Dutch referendum; today is Brexit; tomorrow is Madame Le Pen's campaign… It is a noble secret that these parties and individuals had been continuously financially supported by the Kremlin," Austrevicius added.

In concluding remarks by ALDE MEP Marietje Schaake, suggested that more awareness-raising activities are needed not only on disinformation strategies by media, but also about activities of the NGO's and political parties that are funded and used by the Kremlin.

Disclaimer: This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

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