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


Opening remarks  

  1. Don’t miss out on our latest publication!
  2. EVC Talk!
  3. Soviet Joke

Policy & Research  

  1. EU imposes sanctions on Wagner
  2. China and Russia to hold virtual summit

U.S. Developments  

  1. G7 ' united' over consequences if Russia invades Ukraine according to US official
  2. Top US official to travel to Ukraine and Russia to ease tensions

Kremlin’s Current Narrative 

  1. Russian troops are no threat to anyone according to Kremlin
  2. The US has no plans to deploy in Ukraine

Taipei News


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Orban’s Hungary: A Russia and China Proxy Weakening Europe 

Today’s Hungary is adversarial to transatlantic interests and democratic values. Under Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s leadership, Hungary has embraced the efforts of authoritarian Russia and China to broaden and deepen their politico-economic influence throughout Central Europe. Hungary has become the primary staging ground for Russian and Chinese intelligence and influence operations targeting countries in the wider region. Hungary itself is a destabilizing force as it stirs irredentism in its near abroad while building alliances with authoritarian-leaning leaders throughout Southeast Europe. In response, Orban and his Fidesz Party should be increasingly contained and isolated until Hungary’s government decidedly foregoes actions that gravely compromise Euro-Atlantic security and values.

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EVC Talk

Dear colleagues, would you like to learn more about the importance of government strategic communication in a crisis situation such as COVID-19 Global Pandemic? Then join us on 16th December at 4 pm (CET) for an online stream moderated by Veronika Krátka Špalková! Great speakers such as Maria Sahaydak (Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security, Ukraine), Jakub Goda (Ministry of Health, Slovakia), Yan Auseyushkin (iSans, Belarus) and Zurab Tchiaberashvili (former Minister of Health of Georgia, Georgia) will be discussing this and much more! For more information check our Facebook page or watch directly the livestream on YouTube

Topic of this week

It is expected that no country can be fully prepared for any crisis. COVID-19 has challenged all governments, including those which have tried to ignore or even refuse it from the beginning. Our experts from Czechia, Ukraine, Slovakia, Georgia, and Belarus will discuss which government strategy shows the best results.

How were the strategies changing in time and why?

In which case do the global informational narratives overcome local efforts?

What was the role of outside disinformation and how it pressed national governments in COVID-19 issues?

Were governments having local partners in strategic communications?

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Good Old Soviet Joke

Do you know why you should never trust the Soviet Union?

There is a lot of Red Flags.

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Policy & Research

EU imposes sanctions on Wagner Group

The EU accused the Wagner Group of human rights abuses during carrying out Kremlin planned military operations, following the talks about destabilizing conflict near Ukraine and introduced a new bundle of sanctions including travel bans and asset freezes on eight people and three entities, including the founder of the Wagner Group and former GRU agent Dimitriy Utkin. The group has been accused of serious human rights abuses across many countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Ukraine.

France has been particularly critical, arguing that Wagner’s actions in countries like Mali have had a destabilizing effect on the region. Although Russia’s government has denied having any links to this group, evidence points to the contrary, given those who fund it are reported to have close ties to Putin. The new sanctions aren’t supposed to harm Russia, just indicate its hard stance against Russia’s actions near Ukraine. Russia has been able to use Wagner as a military tool to gain political influence through military coercion. Even though the group doesn’t have any ties to Moscow, its intervention directly has benefitted Russia’s foreign policy.

China and Russia to hold virtual summit

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a virtual summit on Wednesday to discuss bilateral relations and international issues amid tensions between Moscow and the West over Ukraine. President Xi made it clear, China will firmly support Russia on issues concerning core interest and “safeguarding the dignity of each country” .

Although the main talks will regarded economics and China’s recent coal shortages, the summit essentially strengthened ties between both countries. Russia and China have integrated both militarily and economically in the past with joint military drills and trade agreements. China has always allied with Russia over its foreign policy towards countering the United States and will hope to gain serious benefits from Russia. Russia used this summit as a political strategy to gain support from China in a time of rising pressures from the West.

U.S. Developments

G7 ' united' over consequences if Russia invades Ukraine according to US official

The G7 is "absolutely united" on its concerns over Russia's military build-up and the consequences for Russia of any invasion of Ukraine a senior U.S State Department official said on Saturday. 

The officials comment as G7 foreign ministers in Britain engaged in "intense" talks about the current situation at the Ukrainian border. The official also said that there was still a possible diplomatic path to de-escalate tensions with Russia, but added that should Russia choose not to pursue this path, there would be "massive consequences and severe costs" 

US intelligence released earlier this month suggests that Russia could be planning an invasion of Ukraine as early as next year involving 175,000 troops. The Kremlin has consistently denied these suspicions, saying that the West is “gripped by Russophobia.” 

Top US official to travel to Ukraine and Russia to ease tensions

U.S Assistant Secretary of State Karen Donfried, who oversees European and Eurasian affairs, will travel to Moscow amid an effort to ease tensions between the two nations. In a statement to the press, it was confirmed that Donfried will meet with representatives from both countries “to discuss Russia’s military buildup and to reinforce the United States’ commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity,”

Donfried initially met with Ukrainian officials on December 13 to offer support to the nation in the face of a build-up of Russian troops at its border. Her trip comes after a December 7 call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was unsuccessful at defusing tensions on the Ukrainian border. However, the White House confirmed that the two leaders agreed that their representatives will hold follow up meetings in an attempt to de-escalate the situation. 

Kremlin's Current Narrative

According to the Kremlin, Russian troops are allegedly no threat to anyone

RT reports that during talks with Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin noted that Russian troops did not threaten anyone, as reported by the press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov. According to him, Putin recalled that the troops are deployed on the territory of the Russian Federation.

Peskov commented that "this is the escalation of information tension and so on, this is just being done to further demonise Russia and position Russia as a certain side of a potential aggressor", which also has the effect of "not contributing in any way to the relaxation of tensions." Peskov asserted that the Russian government has “no malicious plans”, whilst Putin called on Biden not to shift the responsibility onto Moscow and recalled that it was NATO that was making "dangerous attempts to conquer Ukrainian territory and building up its military potential" near the Russian borders.

The US has no plans to deploy in Ukraine

Another RT article reports on the US’ lack of plans to deploy troops in Ukraine. It states that "giving priority to its geopolitical interests, Washington is not interested in aggravating the conflict in Donbas."

An expert consulted for the article notes that Biden is leveraging the situation to increase his international standing, and quotes the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at the Higher School of Economics, who puts the onus on Ukraine as a provocateur rather than Russia as an occupier, stating that "this is an attempt to find a compromise with Kyiv, which is determined to some kind of provocation so that the West will intercede for it. After all, Ukraine is already actually directly rejecting the Minsk agreements and is building up its military presence in the Donbas."

Taipei News

1. All Lithuanian diplomats to China left the country this week. This rare move came after the recent dispute with Beijing over the Baltic country’s deepening relations with Taiwan. Lithuania enabled Taiwan to open its de-facto embassy in Vilnius this month, a step that brought a furious response from the Chinese government, which was answered by degrading the status of the Lithuanian diplomatic mission.

For these reasons and other fears of further legal issues, Vilnius withdrew its diplomats and plans to run the embassy in Beijing remotely for the time being. Taiwanese politicians and tycoons reacted with statements of support and plans for further economic cooperation and investments in the Baltic region. 


2. The “Summit for Democracy” took place in Washington last week. The meeting was organized by Joe Biden's administration for dozens of invited countries, Taiwan was among those attending, while China was absent due to not being invited. The island country was represented by Hsiao Bi-Khim, the de-facto ambassador to the U.S., and Audrey Tang, the minister of digital affairs. The summit aimed to support and strengthen democratic countries all around the world.

Apparently, Beijing in reaction to being omitted took this opportunity to seek to target diplomatic allies of Taipei. Taiwanese foreign minister Joseph Wu emphasized the overlapping Chinese efforts to discourage countries such as Nicaragua from cooperating with Taipei. The minister added that this behaviour will not help China to enter the global community of trustful and reliable partners, quite the contrary. If China wishes to attend similar events, it must change its approach to human rights in the first place.

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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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