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


  1. Opening remarks 
    1. Online Roundtable: The role of media in disinformation campaigns - Is there a way to regulate them?
    2. How to Protect the Czech Economy from Foreign Predators and Malign Influence?
    3. Soviet Joke
  2. Policy & Research 
    1. Russia sends warplanes over Belarus amid migrant dispute at Poland border
    2. NATO warns Russia about Ukraine military build-up
  3. U.S. Developments 
    1. Russia missile supplies to India could lead to US sanctions
    2. US, Russia, and China discuss Afghanistan
  4. Kremlin’s Current Narrative 
    1. Kremlin plays down sanctions due to arms sales
    2. RT plays the victim during a deep humanitarian crisis


Online Roundtable: The role of media in disinformation campaigns - Is there a way to regulate them?

Ukraine has been an object of a much wider Russian hybrid aggression for a long period since 2014. The neighbouring European states are also under the bigger threats in informational space with a wide range of topics: COVID-19 and vaccination, military build-up and aggression, interference into domestic political processes etc.

During the online discussion on November 11, the attendees evaluated the role of the media as threatening the information space. With no doubt, some media actors are involved in disinformation campaigns directly, like "junk" sites. But also, there is a discussion if the others are used hiddenly? And how to regulate them, or is there a need?


Moderator: Veronika Víchová, European Values Center, Czech Republic


Viktoras Daukšas, Head of initiative, Lithuania

Markéta Gregorová, Member of European Parliament, Czech Pirate Party

Monika Richter, media expert, Semantic Vision, Czech Republic

Oksana Romaniuk, Chief executive of The Institute of Mass Information (IMI), Ukraine

Katsiaryna Shmatsina, independent political analyst, Belarus


How to Protect the Czech Economy from Foreign Predators and Malign Influence?

In this paper, the European Values Center for Security Policy (EVC) identifies the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) key objectives and tools of economic influence and formulates a comprehensive set of potential countermeasures that can and should be adopted by the Czech Republic or be advocated for by the Czech Republic in the European Union. These measures stand to help protect businesses, research & development, and strategic technologies. The report could serve as a source of policy inspiration for any other democratic state, primarily within the EU. The PRC’s tools of economic influence and possible countermeasures presented in this paper were identified and formulated by the EVC primarily based on the findings of the interviews with 30 Czech and international stakeholders with expertise in business development, China’s foreign policy, and national security.


Good Old Soviet Joke

In Soviet Russia, a prisoner goes to the jail's library to borrow a book. The librarian says: "We don't have this book, but we have its author."


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Policy & Research

Russia sends warplanes over Belarus amid migrant dispute at Poland border

Russia sent two nuclear-capable strategic bombers and paratroopers to the Belarus-Poland border last Friday in a show of support for Belarus over the migration dispute. The Belarusian Defense Ministry said two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers practiced bombing runs at the Ruzhany firing range, located in Belarus about 60 kilometers east of the Polish border. It also said that the paratroopers deployed near the border were for snap drills. Moscow claims that the actions were not "aimed against any third countries" but to support its Belarusian allies. Russia and Belarus have a union agreement envisaging close political, economic and military ties. Russia has staunchly defended Belarus claiming that the West “destabilized the Middle East” and must take responsibility for the migrants seeking safety in Europe. It also rejects Poland’s claim that it helped incite the humanitarian situation at the border. 


The EU has accused Belarus’ authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko of engaging in a “hybrid attack” by encouraging illegal border crossings in retaliation for EU sanctions on his government placed on it for Belarus’ crackdown on protests and dissenters after the disputed 2020 elections in Belarus. Lukashenko denies these allegations but said he would no longer stop refugees and migrants from entering the EU. The crisis began in the summer with migrants trying to cross from Belarus to Poland, Lithuania and Latvia to head towards countries like Germany or Finland. According to the Polish border guard, an estimated 33,000 attempts to cross the border illegally, with 17,000 in October alone. 

NATO warns Russia about Ukraine military build-up

NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg warned Russia on Monday that NATO would stand by its ally Ukraine amidst a large buildup of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. Speaking at a press conference after a meeting with the Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Stoltenberg called on Russia to be transparent in its military activities to reduce tensions and prevent escalation. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last Saturday that there were nearly 100,000 Russian soldiers near the Ukrainian border, spurring fears about a possible invasion of Ukraine. Moscow had dismissed these claims. Satellite images taken in early November over Russia by Maxar Technologies showed that Russia was massing troops and military equipment on the border. 


Last week, the US also warned its European allies that Russia might invade Ukraine. US President Joe Biden initially dispatched CIA director William Burns to Moscow in early November to discuss US-Russia relations. Citing the military build-up, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson argued that the west may have to stop relying on Russian oil and gas if it wanted to stand against Ukraine. 

U.S. Developments

Russia missile supplies to India could lead to US sanctions

Russia has started supplying India with S-400 air missile defense systems, despite the international consequences coming with the decision. The recent military aid to India comes after a signed $5.5 billion deal from 2018, in which India says it needs to counter neighboring Chinese and Pakistani military presence. India comes at the risk of receiving sanctions from the United States, "given a 2017 US law that prevents countries from buying Russian military equipment." The United States also placed sanctions on Turkey for purchasing the same military equipment last year. India holds strategic partnerships with the US and Russia, but buying Russian weaponry might severely damage its relations with the US. Russia views the supply to countries like India and Turkey as a crucial way of establishing economic reliance and deterring US influence in both states.

US, Russia, and China discuss Afghanistan

Talks between Russia, China, and the US were hosted by Pakistan, discussing the tense situation in Afghanistan. Topics like the new Taliban government and the displacement of many Afghans were some of the main issues discussed between the states. The meeting also released a joint statement calling for the international community to provide humanitarian aid and for the international community to seek peaceful relations with the Taliban to promote peace and stability in the region. 


Although this might be a purely humanitarian event, all three countries, especially Russia, see the strategic importance of this politically unstable region. Russia held similar talks on Afghanistan, which American representatives declined, discussing the political ramifications of the Taliban takeover with states like Iran. Russian officials see the importance of maintaining political influence through effective dialogue from the leadership in Afghanistan.

Kremlin's Current Narrative

Kremlin plays down sanctions due to arms sales

A recent RT article addresses concerns with potential sanctions for India due to the purchase of military equipment from Russia. India, like Turkey, is at a threat of sanctions from the US due to its cooperation with Russia. The article touts the superiority of Russia, proposing that “experts note that the threat of restrictions does not reduce the popularity of Russian products on the global arms market” Russia’s success is attributed to the fact that “Russia has never put forward political conditions". For his part, Dmitry Shugaev called the US attempts to influence India a “manifestation of unfair competition.”, noting that “the pressure that the United States is putting on our partners today is unprecedented.” As noted above, Russia sees arms sales as a means to establishing economic reliance and deterring US influence and is thus decrying US attempts at stifling its influence.

RT plays the victim during a deep humanitarian crisis

A recent RT article reports that the film crew of RT France was detained at the Polish-Belarusian border. Correspondent David Kalifa and cameraman Jordi Demory reported that the Polish police were behaving in an "extremely unfriendly” manner. Earlier, Ksenia Fedorova (the head of RT France) spoke about "Antifa threats against RT journalists". The article stated that RT "defends the honor and dignity of its journalists in court against the slanderous campaign launched in the country." RT has been live-streaming thousands of illegal migrants remaining on the border of Belarus and Poland, hoping to get to the EU – the Kremlin is positioning itself as an intermediary for negotiation, but denying participation in the crisis and blaming the West for it. This arrest shows the trouble RT can get into and its international reputation, but also how they can spin the story into one of victimhood rather than exploitation - for comparison, Radio Free Europe coverage has focused on the humanitarian crisis caused by Belarus and the potential for new sanctions against cynical human trafficking by Lukashenka.

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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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