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

Topics of the Week

The EU and the UK imposed sanctions on the Russian hackers responsible for orchestrating cyber-attacks on the German Bundestag in 2015.

American voters keep being targeted by a flood of disinformation.

The only world leaders who are able to independently define the future of their country according to Russian outlets: Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Xi Jinping and Ali Khamenei. 

Good Old Soviet Joke

Q: Is it true that the Soviet Union is the most progressive country in the world?

A: Of course! Life was already better yesterday than it's going to be tomorrow!

Facebook Twitter

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter!

Policy & Research News

EU and UK sanction Russian hackers over 2015 Bundestag hack

The Council of the European Union imposed sanctions on two individuals and one body deemed to be responsible for orchestrating cyber-attacks on the German Federal Parliament in the spring of 2015. The UK sided with the EU’s decision and announced that it will also enforce the sanctions against Russian and GRU’s military intelligence unit.  

Malicious interference led by Russian intelligence officers disrupted the parliament’s information system, which was paralysed for a few days. Furthermore, a considerable amount of data was leaked, and emails of MPs and Chancellor Angela Merkel were affected as well

Punished individuals were also previously accused of being involved in hacking the US presidential elections in 2016 (Dmitry Badin) and the poisoning of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal (Igor Kostyukov), for which the U.S. and EU imposed sanctions on them respectively. 

In July 2020 the sanctions in response to cyber-attack were enacted for the first time by the Council against Russia, China, and North Korea. EU should keep showing solidarity in taking decisive actions towards adversary cyber operations and deterring them and safeguarding rule-based and secure order in cyberspace.

Italy vetoes 5G deal between Fastweb and China's Huawei

Italy adopts a tough stance towards Huawei on 5G and vetoes the deal between Huawei and the telecom company Fastweb. This decision will rule out the possibility for Huawei to supply any equipment for 5G core networks. Although this might be not an outright ban, this is a step in the right direction and an example to follow. 

Meanwhile, the cohort of countries who are decoupling with high-risk suppliers and aim to push out Huawei tenders for security reasons is gradually growing. The US-led coalition against Huawei has welcomed new counterparts over the last few weeks. Bulgaria, Kosovo, and North Macedonia have announced that they will join the Clean Network initiative to protect their 5G networks from unreliable vendors. The joint declaration in building secure 5G networks was also signed with Slovakia, as it was declared on the Twitter account of the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic

German Economy minister is also calling European actors for staying vigilant when it comes to China’s Huawei expansion which affects security interests of the states. It was also publicly announced that Germany is considering new restrictions on Huawei to exclude its equipment from the rollout. 

A robust and secure 5G ecosystem should remain a priority for Western countries to protect the national interests and privacy of their citizens from the perilous intervention of aggressive players in this domain. 

Facebook Twitter

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter!

US Developments

Iran-linked disinformation campaign targeted 25,000 Gmail users

Google has stated that a disinformation campaign linked to Iran tried to send 25,000 emails to Gmail accounts, although only 10% of the emails made it past Google's spam filter. The announcement followed the statement made by the head of US national intelligence on Wednesday that an Iranian campaign was behind threatening emails supposedly from the Proud Boys, a far-right group, sent to registered Democratic voters.

Robocalls, Rumours And Emails: Election Disinformation Floods Voters

As the 2020 presidential elections draw nearer, voting advocates have identified a marked uptick in disinformation efforts to dissuade Americans from going to the polls. Jesse Littlewood, who leads the Stopping Cyber Suppression program for Common Cause, stated that "2020 has been a year like no other because not only have we seen a higher volume of online mis- and disinformation, we have also changed a lot of processes about our society, including the way we administer elections." The shift to mail-in voting, in particular, has provided fodder for disinformation campaigns, including a recent spate of robocalls to tens of thousands of minority voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and New York that falsely claimed that voting by mail would lead to the voter's information being included in a "public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit companies to collect outstanding debts."

Kremlin's Current Narrative

Turkey, the reliable Russian ally is preparing for a religious war with Europe

Last week, some of the Russian media tried to connect the murder of the teacher in a suburb city of France to President Macron’s course to build an “Islam of France”. However, more recent news argue that it actually resulted in the growing tensions between Turkey and France, up to the point where the former is preparing for a religious war with Europe.

“The methods to fight Islamic separatism in France” are already perceived by Muslim countries as Islamophobic, according to, and yet president Erdogan made “the brightest” statement of them all and recommended the French leader to “treat his psyche.” According to the news outlet, this was the main reason why the French ambassador was called back from Turkey. Moreover, the Turkish citizens are now boycotting the French products, and have adapted Macron’s own expression about the brain death of NATO against him with “Macron’s brain must be dead.”

Now, even though the Turkish president did recently call to boycott the French products, Macron’s expression dates back to November 2019 and had no connection to Turkey or Islam for that matter.

Nevertheless, France is taking a leading role in fighting Islamic radicalism, the development of which the European countries have allowed for many years, according to And President Erdogan, positioning himself as a defender of the Muslims in the world, interprets this course as a war against Islam as such, that is going to destroy Europe. 

In regards to the Moscow’s views, even though Russia will always stand by the strategy “be scared of the Turk and do not believe the Turk” (“Turkey is always waiting for the moment to stab Russia in the back for all the defeats of the past”, source); president Putin sees Erdogan as a flexible and reliable partner.

The Turkish president is also one of the few world leaders who are able to independently define the future of their country according to the national interests (“unlike, for example, France or Japan”). According to the source, there are only four such leaders in the world: Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Xi Jinping and Ali Khamenei. Therefore, Russia and Turkey will remain partners in building the future world order, “in which both countries will play a large role, corresponding to their weight and importance.”

Do you like our work?

Our effort to protect liberal democracy across Europe is dependent on private donations.

Support us

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

For comments. suggestions or media inquiries, please contact the Head of the Kremlin Watch Program Veronika Víchová at 

Facebook Twitter
Facebook Twitter

European Values Center for Security Policy

Facebook Twitter Youtube