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


Divided Europe: The EU summit exposed different perceptions on Russia.

The US and Ukraine begin military drills in the Black Sea, in tandem with European partners.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blames the West for "self-designated global messianic mission." 

Good Old Soviet Joke

Khrushchev visited a pig farm and was photographed there. In a newspaper's office, a discussion is underway, what should be the caption under the picture.
"Comrade Khrushchev among pigs," "Comrade Khrushchev and pigs," "Pigs around Comrade Khrushchev," -- all are rejected.

Finally, the editor makes the decision. The caption is "The third from the left - comrade Khrushchev."

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Policy & Research News

Divided Europe: The EU summit exposed different perceptions on Russia

The EU summit, 24. – 25. June 2021, exposed diverging positions of EU leaders on key issues related to the relations with the Russian Federation. Germany and France called for a summit with Vladimir V. Putin which was angrily swept off the table by Central European states and others, including the Netherlands and Sweden. Countries criticized the joint Franco-German initiative as ill-advised and hasty and stressed out the dangers of a soft approach towards Russia. On the other hand, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel argued that it would be better to have channels to Moscow instead of relying on the American ones. They stressed out that the EU should be unified and have structured agenda, not just react to events concerning Kremlin. Macron believes that Poland and Baltic states are being Russophobic, while they consider themselves to be Russo-realistic.

At the end of the summit, the EU leaders approved a diplomatic statement with a message to Moscow that to improve the relations, Moscow has to meet several conditions, including the end of the malign activities in Europe. The Council also agreed on rolling over existing sanctions against Russia. However, the splintered approach of EU leaders towards Russia left a negative shade on the summit. 

The summit was preceded by the document issued by the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. He warned the EU that the relationship with Russia is only going to get worse and proposed a new EU approach based on three elements: push back against human rights violations, constrain the attempts to undermine the EU, and engage on issues such as climate change, pandemic, and coordination on regional conflicts in the Middle East. The report was receipted rather negatively by EU diplomats and labeled as too general without any operational measures. 

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US Developments

US Marine Trevor Reed’s 9-year prison sentence denied appeal in Moscow City Court

On Thursday, June 28th, the Moscow City Court denied US Marine Trevor Reed’s appeal, upholding the 9-year prison sentence he received last summer for allegedly assaulting two police officers. Reed has denied the allegations, arguing that the case is politically motivated. He is backed by the US government, which similarly regards the charges against Reed as fabricated and has continuously pushed for his release over the past year. While Reed was accused of elbowing an officer and grabbing a second officer’s arm while riding in a police vehicle, video footage presented in court revealed the car did not swerve as officials alleged––illustrating just one among many inconsistencies in the proceedings. 

A US Embassy spokesperson relayed Ambassador Jake Sullivan’s assertion that the case serves as “another absurd miscarriage of justice in Russia as the world watches.” Sullivan continued to highlight the US’s resolve: “We will not cease to advocate for Trevor & for US citizens denied an open & fair judicial process, a universal human right.” 

The US and Ukraine begin military drills in the Black Sea, in tandem with European partners

On Monday, June 29th, the US, Ukraine, and 30 NATO countries launched the Sea Breeze 2021 initiative, a series of joint military drills in the Black Sea. 

The drills were triggered, at least in part, by Russia’s alleged reaction to the entrance of the UK’s HMS Defender into waters off the coast of Russian-occupied Ukraine. The Russian government reported that it fired warning shots and dropped bombs in the ship's path upon its entrance into the area. While the UK has downplayed the incident, contending that this version of events is falsified, the harrowing accounts of journalists on deck do suggest a “dramatic confrontation” with the Russian Armed Forces.

Slotted to last two weeks, the manoeuvres involve a fleet of approximately 30 warships, in addition to around 40 aircraft. Responding to this development, the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C. has urged the US to cancel the exercises.

Kremlin's Current Narrative

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov smashes the West in a new article, blames the West for “self-designated global messianic mission”

Almost a week after President Vladimir Putin’s article came out, on June 28, another article was published by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov. The article called “The Law, the Rights and the Rules” itself is a reaction to the whole political messaging and media narratives following the Geneva Summit. However, it sets a wider context for how Russia expects to be treated in the global fight for power. It sets out the Kremlin’s main narratives. It is probably unnecessary to say that all the main Russian state media outlets have used excerpts from his letter to promote another wave of anti-Western campaigns.

Firstly, Foreign Minister Lavrov blames his American counterparts for altering the scope of the negotiations (which according to him were based “strictly on a parity basis”) by claiming to have dominated in the discussions with Moscow. He also blames European leaders for channelling their “Big Brother’s sentiment with much gusto and relish” and calls the Western solidarity and unity against Russia a “pre-arranged choir with the lead vocalist”.

Secondly, Lavrov blames the West for creating an additional layer of “Western rules” on top of the existing universal international legal instruments which “lack any specific content” but allow the West to hold anyone they don’t approve of accountable. Lavrov criticizes the West’s labelling of Russia and China as “authoritarian powers”, especially, as he puts it out, for “Moscow’s policy aimed at countering ultra-radical and neo-Nazi aspirations in its immediate neighbourhood” and its efforts to “stand up for countries that became victims to Western gambles”. He speaks out against sanctions and coercive measures, stating that they promote Western “totalitarian rule in global affairs, assuming an imperial, neo-colonial stance in its relations with third countries.”

He says that the West with its own set of human rights issues and “high-browed hubris”, “the exceptionalism complex” and “self-designated global messianic mission” does not have a monopoly on deciding how others should live and which values are better. Lavrov suggests that instead, the West should “recognise that there are other ways to govern, accept and respect this as a given”, hence accept the reality of the “multipolar world”. 

Lavrov also blames the West for aggressive LGBT propaganda and post-WW2 historical revisionism and calls the “rules-based order the embodiment of double standards”. The Foreign Minister also points out that the US tries to “drive a wedge into the Orthodox Christian world”. 

Foreign Minister concludes his article by denying any possibility of unilateral concessions and suggests that the only way to work with Russia is through “meeting each other halfway” and “ending the anomaly with the excessive representation of the West” in global affairs.

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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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