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

Topics of the Week

Sweden bans Huawei and ZTE from the 5G telecoms network. Huawei launches legal appeal against Sweden’s ‘Draconic’ 5G Ban in response.

EU agrees on new sanctions on Belarus leader Lukashenko for the crackdown

Kremlin's Current Narrative: What will come from Joe Biden's presidency?

Good Old Soviet Joke

Estonia asked Gorbachev to allow it to be independent just for one month. Gorbachev refused. Then Estonia requested independence for just one day. Gorbachev refused. Then Estonia asked only ten minutes of independence. Gorbachev's advisors suggested to comply with that request as in ten minutes Estonians wouldn't be able to do much harm, but to consent to their request could be advantageous for propaganda purposes.

Ten minutes of independence elapsed, and the Soviet agents in Estonia reported, "In the first five minutes, Estonia proclaimed war to Finland, and in the next five minutes Estonia surrendered and announced that it was being occupied."

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Policy & Research News

Sweden bans Huawei and ZTE from the 5G telecoms network

The government of Sweden became one of the latest, which issued a ban on excluding Chinese Huawei and ZTE from its 5G core buildouts until 2025. This decision was made after the advice given by the country’s armed forces and security services, noting that “China is one of the biggest threats against Sweden”.

As the reciprocal measure, Huawei has filed an appeal against the 5G network ban adopted by Sweden, arguing the ‘draconian’ measures constitute a breach of the EU and national law and will result in the establishment of Ericsson’s monopoly in the market. 

In response to the legal actions taken by Huawei, the court in Stockholm granted relief for Huawei, and therefore, allowed Huawei to be involved in Sweden’s impending 5G spectrum auction. However, Swedish telecom regulators PTS have decided to halt 5G auctions after released court’s decision. 

Meanwhile, Slovenia is shifting from Chinese investments. The government announced that this will not only block Huawei’s involvement in 5G network development but also prevent Chinese building companies from participating in the construction of the Koper-Divaca railway’s second track. Earlier in August Slovenia has also joined the US-spearheaded anti-Huawei coalition, and signed the deal with Washington.

Following the pressure from Washington, a coalition of anti-Huawei Western countries that adopted partial restrictions or the outright ban has substantially expanded, and so far consists of the UK, Italy, Romania, Denmark, Greece, Poland, Czech Republic, and some other countries. The process of decoupling from China’s 5G and its investments is rising in Europe, and should not be reversed until China ceases its extensive intelligence and espionage efforts which intentionally target the security of Western democracies, and using economic relations with European countries to leverage its aggressive political influence.

EU agrees on new sanctions on Lukashenko

EU imposes a second list of new sanctions, which now also target Aleksander Lukashenko and his son.  The new restrictive measures will freeze their EU assets and prohibit the entrance to the bloc.

Josep Borrel stated that the news sanctions are an inevitable step since the violence is still unfolding, while we observe “complete lack of will from Lukashenko’s side to engage in negotiations”.

Last month EU slapped sanctions against 40 Belarusian officials for repressions against peaceful demonstrators and election falsification.

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US Developments

Parler 'free speech' app tops charts in wake of Trump defeat

American conservatives and Trump supporters are flocking to the app Parler, a Twitter alternative, following Twitter's and other mainstream social media companies' clampdown on the spread of election misinformation. The app was reportedly adding "thousands to users per minute" on Sunday and had added two million new users in a day. President Trump is absent from the app, but other prominent conservatives are already on what is being called a "safe space for the right." Texas Senator Ted Cruz boasts 2.6 million followers, while Fox News hosts Mark Levin and Sean Hannity have more than two million each.

Spanish-language misinformation dogged Democrats in U.S. election

Spanish-language misinformation has proliferated online ahead of, during, and after the US election. Spanish-language social media posts from popular figures such as online celebrities and radio commentators have shed doubt on the reliability of mail-in voting and have cast President-elect Joe Biden as a socialist. Several posts in Spanish have supported the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon, which claims that President-elect Biden is a sexual predator and a member of the US government's deep state. Although social media companies have become increasingly responsive to disinformation, Spanish language posts often remain on their sites longer than English ones, allowing them to spread far wider.

Kremlin's Current Narrative

Kremlin's channels forecast that nothing good will come for the US-Russia relations from Joe Biden’s presidency

Since the announcement that Joe Biden won the 46th presidential elections on November, 7, the discussions about the president-elect, the validity of the results of the elections, as well as expectations for the future of Moscow-Washington relations have been abundant across the Russian channels.

To begin with, the fact that the president Vladimir Putin has not yet congratulated Mr Biden has caused quite a resonance. Some sources point out that the world leaders have only congratulated the president-elect despite the lack of official results. However, one source connects it back to Mr Biden’s comments from the past, when he advised Vladimir Putin not to run for president again (2011) and said that if he would win the elections, “the days of Putin’s tyranny will be over” (2019) (source).

Regarding the expectations for the US-Russia relations, Ria News and other sources refer to the statement of Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the upper house Federation Council’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, that under Biden the relations are not expected to improve. The foreign affairs will be decided by “the people we know from the Obama-Biden team,” and Russia will remain one of the “convenient enemies” of Washington.

Senator Kosachev has also pointed out that the age of the president-elect will be a serious factor for his team to play a bigger role in future American politics. In addition to this, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the nationalist opposition Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, also noted that Joe Biden “has certain health issues, [but] it’s not his fault.”

Edition Kommersant, in the article titled “Our American Baidushka”, all the way back in July, explained why Moscow should not expect any good from the Democratic president-elect. Among the main points of the article is the “promise” of Mr Biden to restrict the imports of goods from China and Russia, to continue the sanctions and radicalization of the conflictual relations with Moscow, as well as to counter the growing Russian influence in Europe and other regions.

On the other hand, RT suggests there is a “good chance” that under Biden’s administration, the US will go back to the foreign wars policy, which would prevent the US-EU relations from normalization. However, the close to “catastrophic” state of the pandemic might prevent such policies from being enacted.

Nevertheless, Kremlin “still hopes” to re-establish dialogue with the White House, since peace and security between the two countries practically concern the whole world.

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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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