Germany is the main target of Russian disinformation in the EU, according to EU vs Disinfo.

EU to impose additional sanctions on Russia in line with the new Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime.

Russian election interference in 2020 confirmed in the National Intelligence Council’s report.

The Kremlin accuses the West of information aggression.

Good Old Soviet Joke

Question to Radio Armenia: Is it possible to build Communism in a random capitalist country like, say, the Netherlands? 

Answer: Of course, it’s possible! But what have the Netherlands ever done to you?

Policy & Research News

EU watchdog reports that Germany is the main target of Russian disinformation in the bloc

The European Union’s ‘EU vs Disinfo’ project, an initiative of the European External Action Service’s (EEAS) East StratCom Task Force, reported last week that Germany appears to be the main target of Russian disinformation efforts in the EU. The article, part of the project’s regular analysis of Kremlin disinformation efforts and narratives, notes that since 2015 the team have logged over 700 cases of disinformation targeted at Germany – more than twice those aimed at the next biggest target, France.

The report notes two major narratives in the latest anti-German disinformation campaign. The first one spins the renewal of EU sanctions related to the Ukraine crisis as Germany simply using its Presidency of the Council of the EU to implement a “containment” of Russia. The use of this narrative tends to ignore the hostile actions taken by Russia in order to paint sanctions as the irrational manifestation of ‘russophobia’.

Secondly, since the start of the new year, Russian media has exploited the case of three minors being taken into the custody of Berlin social authorities over alleged threats to their welfare. The story was exaggerated by Russian media and portrayed as an oppression of Russian-Germans in a manner reminiscent of the ‘Lisa Case’ in 2016.

In sum, the EU vs Disinfo report denounces the Kremlin’s ‘doublespeak’ as exploitative – expressing readiness for dialogue while continuing to engage in hostile acts of disinformation.

U to impose additional sanctions on Russia in line with new Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime

The EU is preparing to impose additional sanctions on Russia in the coming weeks. The EU’s Political and Security Committee reached a provisional agreement to sanction human rights abuses in Russia, China, and four other countries on March 11. According to reports, the measures will enforce visa-bans and asset-freezes on eleven officials and four entities – the Russian targets are expected to be linked to Russian human rights abuses in Chechnya. The sanctioned parties will only be named if sanctions are formally approved at a meeting of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council on March 22, at which UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is also expected to attend.

The initiative for sanctions supposedly comes from major EU member states, including Germany and France, and apart from initial Hungarian scepticism, the proposal was received without notable contention among member states. EU representatives have declined to confirm or comment on pending sanctions. However, one spokesperson remarked that previous EU sanctions over the imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, on March 2, “were the first listings under the EU’s Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime but will not be the last.” The sanctions regime – colloquially referred to as the EU’s ‘Magnitsky Act’ – was adopted in December 2020. It allows the EU to target “individuals, entities and bodies” responsible for human rights violations anywhere in the world.       

US Developments

Russian Election Interference in 2020 Confirmed in Intelligence Community Report

The National Intelligence Council published a report this week detailing the impact of foreign interference in the 2020 federal elections. According to the report, “a key element of Moscow’s strategy this election cycle was its use of proxies linked to Russian intelligence to push influence narratives.” While the report did not name specific US individuals, both CNN and the New York Times link these influence efforts back to the work of Rudolph Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security released a companion report stating that they found no evidence that a foreign government successfully manipulated election results.

Russian Disinformation Targets Western-Developed Covid-19 Vaccines

According to the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, and as reported by the Wall Street Journal, Russia is attempting to discredit the Moderna and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines. Four websites directly linked to the Russian intelligence services have been identified in the disinformation efforts. The disinformation attempts to discredit the vaccines with false and misleading information on potential side-effects, efficacy and the development process of the vaccines. White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated that the Biden administration has been monitoring these efforts.