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


  1. EU sanctions over Russian political actions in Crimea

  2. The Arctic: Russia's economic priority

  3. No breakthrough over US-Russia talks about Embassy Dispute

  4. With eyes on Russia, US defence chief heads to Black Sea region

  5. Kremlin claims it is “uninterested” in a divided Europe

  6. Kremlin claims Ukraine’s actions make it hard to co-operate

  7. News from Taipei


European Values Centre For Security Policy is set to open its office in Taipei later this fall, thus becoming the very first European non-governmental think tank to do so.

Taiwan, as a liberal democracy is on the frontline of disinformation and influence clash with communist China, offers unique opportunities to learn from and can enable us to progress defensive capabilities against such new forms of hybrid warfare. By establishing its presence directly on the Taiwanese soil, the European Values Center for Security Policy is aiming at exchanging good practices and experiences with local entities and experts. At the same time, our mission is also to deepen and strengthen the cooperation and relationship between the island country and the Czech Republic. Both countries face common challenges of enduring hybrid attacks from stronger non-democratic regional powers. After the events of last year, mainly the historic visit of the senate president Mr Milos Vystrcil to Taipei, we will seek to expand on these new possibilities of intense mutual cooperation that will benefit both parties.

From now on, there will be regular updates appearing in this newsletter about our mission in the Republic of China, as well as about the current issues and events in Taiwan Strait in general. You can find the "News from Taipei" at the end of the newsletter.

Good Old Soviet Joke

Did you guys know that the Soviet Union made the best bread in history?
People would wait days in line for a single piece!

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Policy & Research News

EU sanctions over Russian political actions in Crimea

The European Council placed another round of sanctions upon eight individuals "responsible for enforcing Russian law" in occupied Crimea. This decision brings the total number of individuals to 185, along with 48 companies and other legal entities found exercising unrecognized political authority within Crimea. Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and the conflict in Eastern Ukraine have caused various waves of sanctions from the international community, which have tried to hold Russia accountable for its actions.             

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova responded to the recent sanctions stating that they are "completely illegitimate from the perspective of international law." Sanctions formulated by the EU are legitimate, given that they are mutually agreed upon by all  EU members and not directed by international law.  They seek to "target and stay proportionate to their objectives while reducing the possibility of any consequences." Russia's military and political presence in Ukraine defy various provisions of international law and demonstrate its failure to uphold international commitments.

The Arctic: Russia's economic priority

On Wednesday, the European Union put forward proposals that could see it pushing to ban the tapping of various natural resources in the Arctic to protect the region from further damage to climate change. Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak responded negatively to these proposals, stating that they were "politically motivated and nonsensical." Tensions are already high between Russia and the EU, given the ongoing energy crisis and Europe's demand for gas.

The EU has not had much presence in the Arctic and is also not a member of the Arctic Council, but it still has shown its desire to increase its role in the region. On the other hand, Russia's negative response is not unexpected given the importance of this large region. The Arctic is vital to Russia's economy, accounting for "10% of its GDP and 20% of its exports, and its territory, given Russia's coastline totals to 53% of the Arctic coastline." 

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US Developments

No breakthrough over US-Russia talks about Embassy Dispute

Despite high-level talks between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and US Undersecretary of Political Affairs Victoria Nuland last Tuesday, the dispute over embassy staffing remains unresolved. 

Ryabkov said that the talks were “useful” but noted that little progress was made on the issues of embassy staffing. US State Department spokesman Ned Price also said the talks were “useful” and confirmed that both countries agreed to another round of discussions. 

Earlier this year, the Russian government forced the US diplomatic mission in Russia to stop employing foreign nationals in its embassy, leaving only a “skeleton crew” of US diplomats in the region. Last week, it also asked the US embassy in Moscow to waive diplomatic immunity from three embassy employees accused of stealing a backpack. 

US senators also asked Biden to expel 300 Russian diplomats should Russia not issue more visas for American diplomats. The Russian Foreign Ministry warned that such actions would lead to the complete closure of US diplomatic facilities in Russia. 

With eyes on Russia, US defence chief heads to Black Sea region

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin will head to the Black Sea region on Sunday to shore up alliances with countries pressured by Russia. The trip is also to show gratitude for each nation's contributions to the war in Afghanistan. 

Austin will visit NATO member Romania and partner countries Georgia and Ukraine before joining the NATO defence ministers summit on October 21. Russia has sought to expand its influence in the Black Sea region to prevent additional NATO expansion in the east. 

Russia occupied the Crimea Peninsula in 2014. Currently, Kyiv is battling pro-Russian separatists in the east, a conflict that has taken more than 10,000 lives. Russia also has troops stationed in the Georgian breakaway states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 

US senators also asked Biden to expel 300 Russian diplomats should Russia not issue more visas for American diplomats. The Russian Foreign Ministry warned that such actions would lead to the complete closure of US diplomatic facilities in Russia. 

Kremlin's Current Narrative

Kremlin claims it is “uninterested” in a divided Europe

TASS reported Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s statement that a divided Europe is not in Moscow’s interest: "Moscow has no interest in a divided Europe. We’re interested in the existence of prosperous European countries, independent of each other. We want to be heard: we are not threatening anyone, we are not a source of danger, we are a very large and very powerful country who is looking for partners.” Furthermore, regarding the movement of Russian troops to the border of Ukraine, which was perceived as a threat by the West, Peskov stressed “we can understand your feelings. But we would prefer it if you Europeans were better informed - massive NATO drills had taken place near Russia’s border before Russian troops were transferred to that region."

He added that there is "endless talk about the concentration of Russian troops, yet everyone turns a blind eye to the concentration of NATO’s forces." Replying to a question on Kyiv's quest for membership in NATO, he said that "Ukraine’s membership in NATO would be the worst-case outcome", infringing “the red lines of Russia’s national interests”. He added that this could force Russia to “take active measures to ensure its security”. We thus see an image attempting to be formed of Russia’s strong and diplomatic international posturing, at the same time as it disparages Ukraine. 

Kremlin claims Ukraine’s actions make it hard to co-operate

According to an RT report, the Kremlin does not yet see the prospects for a meeting between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine, Vladimir Putin and Vladimir Zelensky. This was announced by Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, explaining that the reason was the actions of Kiyv, which intends to withdraw from the Minsk agreements (which sought to end the war in the Donbas region).

The report mentions that in particular, Peskov drew attention to the fact that Zelensky calls Russia "a participant in the conflict in the southeast of the country." and that it is Ukraine that is "not fulfilling the Minsk Agreement obligations."

Vladimir Putin, in turn, had noted that Kiyv took many steps destroying interstate relations, but added that Moscow welcomes attempts to restore relations between countries.

At the same time, Peskov emphasized that the "Russophobic approach" still dominates in Kiyv's politics. Peskov also noted that Putin "clearly confirmed" that he was ready to meet with Zelensky, demonstrating a narrative line of Ukrainian political bad will and Russia’s good foreign policy and constructive approach which tries to deflect from its illegal occupation. In this light, the Kremlin stated that the issue of Crimea's ownership also cannot be a topic for discussion at the talks between Putin and Zelensky.

News From Taipei

Amid the new wave of People's Liberation Army (PLA) intrusions into the Taiwanese airspace (at least 38 breaches of its territory in past weeks) the ministry of foreign affairs in Taipei announced that China is running and accelerating infiltration operations to set up "cronies inside Taiwan," as well as misinformation campaigns and hybrid warfare. Foreign minister Wu added that these increased activities may likely relate to current power outage crisis in China, given that such strategy of launching a crisis externally in order to distract its public from internal issues belongs to the patterns of authoritarian regimes, and China has already done it in the past.

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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 

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