Last week's events concerning the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign

New Study: How do European democracies react to Russian aggression?

Good afternoon, 

the European Values Think-Tank has just launched a new study in the European Parliament. The 124- page study reviews shifts in strategic & policy documents of EU28 member states following Russian aggression against Ukraine.  

You can find the Full Study, Summary, or individual EU28 country profiles at www.europeanvalues.net/russia.

 

Below, find the OVERALL CONCLUSIONS:

o   Russian aggression against Ukraine has led to EU28 sanctions, while Kremlin aggressive policies such as militarily threatening specific EU countries, or using hostile influence tools such as disinformation, and support of European extremists & radical leaders has alienated many European countries.

o   Today, we can see:

o   six countries which have held concerned views of Russian foreign policy and now are at the forefront of the European response to its aggression (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, United Kingdom, Denmark)

o   five countries have significantly shifted their policies and concerns after the Russian aggression against Ukraine (Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Germany).

o   three countries are below-radar supporters of countering Russian aggression (Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria)

o   three states have virtually no relevant relations with Russia (Portugal, Malta, Ireland)

o   six countries are trying to stay away from the issues (Austria, Belgium, France, Luxemburg, Spain, Slovenia)

o   two governments are using the Russia-card for domestic reasons (Slovakia, Hungary)

o   and three states still act Kremlin-friendly (Greece, Italy, Cyprus)

o   13 EU countries are highly concerned with the Russian disinformation threat, and are therefore participating in at least one of the three allied projects (EEAS East STRATCOM, NATO STRACOM COE, Finnish COE on Countering Hybrid Threats).

o   The game-changer in this situation will be the next German government coalition which can shift European efforts to counter and mitigate the Russian aggression in both ways – it can either appease the Kremlin and effectively kill the EU28 response (potentially, if a “red” coalition is in place), or follow-up on the principled position held by the Chancellor Angela Merkel to devise a full-government policy on every level of the Kremlin aggression (from Ukraine to disinformation threats) and become the full-time prime defender of the liberal international order.

o   The group of 14 countries clearly concerned with Russian aggression is missing a leader. The United Kingdom is on its way out, Germany still does not feel as an openly hawkish defender of the principled response, and Poland is missing out on the chance to be a genuine, legitimate and a well-respected leader of this pack because of the unconstructive behaviour of its government.

o   The position of the most reliable Kremlin friendly is now held by Italy, expressed for example by openly vetoing expansion of sanctions following Russia-sponsored atrocities in Syria. It might change after the French presidential elections, where Moscow might get a highly influential ally.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. The aggressiveness of the Russian Federation is based on internal factors, while the kleptocratic regime needs to feed domestic audience with perception of the external threat. For this reason, Kremlin-orchestrated hostilities will continue until it implodes. It is important to understand that this is not going to disappear overnight, nor by European politicians being nice to Vladimir Putin.

  2. Most of diplomatic efforts of the concerned countries should focus on silently assisting Germany with adopting the position of the prime defender of the liberal international order. German military is already assuming that role; now it is time for concerned allies to support Germany in assuming more assertive role against the ones who openly and systematically attack the rule-based order.

  3. Given the amount and intensity of Russia-sponsored atrocities and the almost non-existent shift in approach of Kremlin’ friendlies, it is reasonable not to expect positions of Greece, Italy and Cyprus to significantly move. There apparently is not much else Russia would have to do for them to change their long-term views.

  4. European debate should focus on how Russia uses energy to increase dependence of individual countries on Moscow’s energies and to lure influential current or former politicians to lobby on its behalf. European intelligence agencies openly warn against this tool Russia buys influence with.

  5. Given the evidence and urgent warning by many European intelligence agencies and security experts, European countries should develop their own national defence mechanisms & policies against hostile foreign influence and disinformation operations. Many countries are now facing prospects of Russian hostile interference in their elections and it is most probably not going to disappear during the upcoming years. Elections should be considered a part of the national critical infrastructure as they are a cornerstone of sovereignty.

  6. 13 EU states clearly concerned with Russian disinformation should ask EU HRVP Federica Mogherini to strengthen and reinforce the EEAS East STRATCOM Team, which still consists almost only from seconded national experts, not from EEAS-funded specialists.

  7. It would be in the great interest of countries concerned with Russia’s aggression if Polish government was able to act constructively in the allied structures and would become a respected leader in spearheading actions to deter and mitigate the threat. So far, it has been a politically wasted opportunity by Warsaw.

Moreover, the 20 SPECIFIC CONCLUSIONS are available in attached a well-printable SUMMARY

 

Sincerely yours from Prague, 

European Values Think-Tank & Kremlin Watch Program

Kremlin Watch is a strategic program of the European Values Think-Tank, which aims to expose and confront instruments of Russian influence and disinformation operations focused against liberal-democratic system.

  • For comments related to content or media inquiries, please contact Deputy Director of European Values Think-Tank Jakub Janda at janda@evropskehodnoty.cz (+420 775 962 643)
  • For Monitor suggestions or technical comments, please contact Kremlin Watch analyst Veronika Víchová at vichova@evropskehodnoty.cz.
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