Will The EU Be Able To Withstand Russia’s Propaganda?

20
Will The EU Be Able To Withstand Russia’s Propaganda?
WikiImages / Pixabay

While Russia is concluding a week’s celebration of the one-year anniversary of the annexation of Crimea, world is finally realizing how dangerous the Russian propaganda-machine really is. The European Union (EU) has recently made a decision to create a new communications team to counter what they perceive to be misinformation coming from the Kremlin.

Play Quizzes 4

Thanks to the Kremlin’s propaganda, Russian President Vladimir Putin is able to wage a war in Ukraine and increase his approval rating at home at the same time. The most recent Putin’s approval rating has reached 86%, despite the fact that annexing Crimea led to a worsening of the country’s sanctions-hit economy and relations with the West.

Morningstar Investment Conference: Fund Manager Highlights Personalized Medicine, Energy Security

Clint Carlson Far ViewHedge fund managers go about finding investment ideas in a variety of different ways. Some target stocks with low multiples, while others look for growth names, and still others combine growth and value when looking for ideas. Some active fund managers use themes to look for ideas, and Owen Fitzpatrick of Aristotle Atlantic Partners is Read More

A year ago, when Putin was preparing his takeover of Crimea, Russia launched its all-out propaganda war in an aim to portray the protesters who had overthrown Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych as neo-Nazis. That kind of narrative tricked the Crimea’s and eastern Ukraine’s population into believing in all those horrible things about the West. And that’s not a coincidence that one of the first acts of the Russian-backed rebels in Donetsk was to take control over the televised center and replace Ukrainian broadcasts with the Russian propaganda-driven ones.

The thing is that Ukraine is not the only target of such propaganda here. No. It spills much further. It spills into eastern European countries via televised broadcasts of RT (aka Russia Today, fully financed by the Kremlin, broadcasts in English, German, Spanish and French) or op-ed pieces placed in the New York Times and such. And then, of course, there are those Putin-backed online trolls who fool around at discussions forums, comment sections and social networks.

A year after the annexation, Putin admitted in an interview aired on Sunday that he indeed ordered the Russian soldiers to execute a well-planned operation to take over Crimea. Furthermore, Putin admitted in the interview that “we were ready to do this” when asked about his willingness to ready Russia’s nuclear forces.

Russia vs. EU: the beginning of propaganda war

EU leaders, most especially in the Baltic states, have been alarmed at how Russia has used its propaganda machine to get support for its policies in Europe.

The EU officials told Reuters that a dozen public relations and communications experts would start work by the end of March in Brussels in an aim to counter what the EU says is “deliberate misinformation” coordinated by the Kremlin, which targets Ukraine, the Baltic states and other member states.

The EU leadership agreed to extend economic sanctions in order to push Russia to stick to the cease-fire agreement reached in Minsk on February 12. The EU’s summit statement also said they “stressed the need to challenge Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns” and have the developed plan of how to do so by June.

The task of the new Brussels’ expert team is the “correction and fact-checking of misinformation” and to “develop an EU narrative through key messages, articles, op-eds, factsheets, infographics, including material in Russian language”, according to a description circulating among EU officials reported by Reuters.

The EU official said experts could be brought in to help create programs that attract Russian-speakers who do not watch the existing Western-funded Russian-language media such as the BBC, RFI, Deutsche Welle or Radio Free Europe. “We need to spread the word beyond the usual suspects,” he said.

The most effective way for the EU to counter the Kremlin’s propaganda would be to get Russian-speaking EU member states such as Lithuania—or any other state that has been clear and unmistakable in its opposition to Russia—to put together qualified people in order to disseminate more information giving the EU perspective to Russians.

Russia vs. the Baltics: information warfare has already begun?

However, some EU countries will have to do most of the work on their own, given that, for example, the UK’s challenges to win a war against RT’s propaganda are very different from those in Baltic states or in war-torn Ukraine.

Last year the Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania temporarily banned Russian broadcasters. The third Baltic state of Estonia is poised to launch its own general televised channel aimed at the Russian-speaking minority, which is the quarter of Estonia’s population.

Furthermore, Latvia, home to the EU’s largest Russian-speaking minority, has proposed publicly funded pan-Baltic channels. Meanwhile, the Dutch government has financed the European Endowment for Democracy, a source of promoting the European values of freedom and democracy created by Brussels, to consider a number of proposals. Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign-policy chief, will carefully read its report, due in May. However, Ms. Mogherini and her team made it crystal clear that large schemes that require large funding is not something the EU is looking for.

However, the EU is facing plenty of its own problems, some of which are much more serious than the growing pro-Russian sentiment in some of its 28 member states.

“The political challenges facing Europe are now immense – dealing with the perceived threat from Russia, the rise of far right/far left and anti-immigration impulses, and generally centrifugal forces and the sense that European institutions are still detached from the people,” Tim Ash, head of emerging markets research at Standard Bank, told CNBC.

EU officials participating in the project said they could not even hope to compete with the Russian-financed news and entertainment channels, or the trolls that promote Kremlin ideas on social media and comment sections. Which is true considering how well-financed the Russian propaganda is, and how hard the Kremlin is trying to ‘zombie’ as many people as it can.

Therefore, Europe’s best hope and the best way out is to promote European values such as free speech and a commitment to truth.

Updated on

Polina Tikhonova is a writer, journalist and a certified translator. Over the past 7 years, she has worked for a wide variety of top European, American, Russian, and Ukrainian media outlets. Polina holds a Master's Degree in English Philology from the University of Oxford and a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the Saint Petersburg State University. Her articles and news reports have been published by many newspapers, magazines, journals, blogs and online media sources across the globe. Polina is fluent in English, German, Ukrainian and Russian.
Previous article 80 Years Later, How Would Atlantic City-Based Monopoly Look?
Next article Fed: “Patient” Prick Proves More Pleasure than Pain

No posts to display

20 COMMENTS

  1. The West is really alarmed at current situation, but not because of “Kremlin brainwashing technologies’ success in Russia and in the West”. Simply the peoples have got a chance to find out a little more than they could learn from our mainstream media. And “the world is finally realizing how dangerous the Western propaganda machine really is”!
    http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1275114?ref=feeds%2Flatest
    Maybe, Gebbels would have been proud of so sophisticated Western propaganda machine. Nevertheless a lot of commentators in the very West who do not belong to the mainstream media here prefer to support the stand Moscow has taken now. And it is a real failure of the Western propaganda attempts to manipulate the public at large.

  2. Vic, your post is so filled with assertions that have troule taking your seriously. I’ll enumerate below and address your main points.
    1. Yes, Putin has stated on several occasions that Russians have gone to the Eastern region to aid the seperatists, the majority of whom are ethnic Russians. This is a far cry from sending in the Russian military. Now, do I believe that there are most likely Russian special forces in the Eastern region? Yes, I think it’s totally conceivable if not probable. Any country would do the the same when faced with a hostile military alliance on her border. By the way, it’s no secret that the US and EU have special forces working there too, we even have one of them on tape, his name is Leon Swampy.
    2. Why would Putin broker a peace accord? Um, well because he wants to avoid a war on his border that could destabilize the whole region and cut off Russian exports to the EU which would be damaging for all involved. Also because the majority of the people in the Eastern region are ethnic Russians and Russian speakers with close ties to Russia which makes protecting them a political necessity.
    3. Why would the US broker a deal with something they’re not directly involved in militarily? Do you ever read or watch the news? The US has shipped “defensive” weapons, millions of dollars and active duty “trainers” to the region. I mean honestly, it’s all over the news.
    4. Irrefutable proof that the US was involved in the coup: Do you live under a rock or something? Victoria Nuland (Asst. Sec. of State) and Geoffrey Pyatt (US Ambassador to Ukraine) were tape recorded planning it and naming who would be in the government post-coup. Then, when confronted with the evidence, Sec. Nuland admitted it was her.
    5. Ragtag rebels wouldn’t know how to use a BUK missile system: Yes you’re probably right, which indicates that they didn’t do it. Now, the regular Ukranian army does have BUK missiles, and the knowledge of how to use them, which would indicate that they did do it.Besides, the only party standing to gain by shooting down an airliner would be Kiev so that the incident could be used an excuse for greater military operations.

  3. All lies have a shelf life that expires quickly once the truth leaks out. Russian propaganda is the bane of Russian culture. They start to believe this nonsense to make themselves feel superior to others and that is a fool’s errand. Because they neglect reason and common sense when believing this sordid propaganda they weaken their own nation and people.

  4. The European Union and Nato countries are in for some trying times. There is no doubt that the Kremlin have change the modus operandi and is now taking the lead to infiltrate and destabilize with aggressive intent. Western Nations should be alarmed for the fearless intent of the Kremlin towards its so called ENEMY.

  5. Yup, another Republican led ploy…ah, I remember it well, to get a war they wanted, and America will never recover from it. We should have been in Afghanistan, but never Iraq, but all that is water under the bridge now.

  6. History has a way of repeating itself. The buzzing of the late 1930s in Hitler’s Berlin and the fierce Nazi propaganda machine at work has a starling comparison to what the world is witnessing. The only difference now is the plethora of devices available to capture global audiences at will. Nevertheless the objective of cunning and crafty men remains the same, a mind boggling business that produces armies of nationals willing to follow their pernicious ways.

  7. ‘Is a Government Crime’: The Coffins of Russia’s Ghost Soldiers In Ukraine Are Coming Home https://news.vice.com/article/it-is-a-government-crime-the-coffins-of-russias-ghost-soldiers-in-ukraine-are-coming-home
    By Lucy Kafanov
    March 3, 2015 | 5:45 am
    At half past six in the morning, on September 2, a captain from Russia’s 106th Guards Airborne Division arrived at the outskirts of a remote village in the Samara region, a triangular stretch of southern Russia between the Volga River and Kazakhstan. He had been driving through the countryside for hours. Seemingly endless rows of birch trees eventually gave way to flat stretches of farmland, until a signpost beside a small cemetery announced the village of Podsolnechnoye. The vehicle bounced along a rutted road, past clusters of dilapidated single-story houses, and came to a stop in front of a modest white brick home.

    The captain had travelled nearly 900 miles from Rostov, on the border with Ukraine, in order to make a personal delivery. With him was a sealed zinc coffin containing the body of a 20-year-old paratrooper named Sergei Andrianov.

    Relatives were waiting to greet them outside. Sergei’s older brother and uncle stepped forward with an angle grinder and set about opening the coffin. His mother Natasha remained inside the home. “I was hoping there was a mistake,” she told VICE News. “They took so long to bring him, I thought maybe he was wounded and they were treating him.” Outside, the men managed to pry open the coffin. Natasha heard her daughter begin to scream.
    Natasha Andrianova says she feels betrayed by the government and the army she trusted her son to.
    In photographs, Sergei is often smiling, his boyish face set in a calm gaze. Built like a featherweight fighter, he had close-cropped sandy hair, blue hooded eyes, and an angled jaw. But in death, Natasha could barely recognize her son — his expression frozen in a grimace, eyes wide open and mouth agape. The left side of his face had turned blue, while his nose was twisted at an odd angle, as if someone had yanked it to the side. His body was covered in dirt, which had caked under his fingernails. A fatal blast wound to Sergei’s heart was hidden beneath a fresh military uniform intended for a man twice his size. A pair of flimsy rubber flip-flops dangled from his feet.

    https://news.vice.com/article/it-is-a-government-crime-the-coffins-of-russias-ghost-soldiers-in-ukraine-are-coming-home

  8. The author is taken us for a children. ” The world is finally realizing how dangerous the Russian propaganda-machine really is.”
    And how is dangerous ?! I am wondering how easy “the world” start to think,that propaganda is only in that country which western politicians don’t like,and western propaganda is like a not propaganda at all. Everything what we have in media is propaganda. Which one is dangerous Russian,American,Chinese or European depends of what we are really getting from this countries. So far I see Russia just solving a problem which create US and NATO. I don’t see any danger to know from Russian media a different point of view and different information. That is what called democracy,when we have a different parties and opposition on elections. Now the “World “has right to choose and make its own opinion.

  9. Does anyone remember “Radio Free Europe”? How about “Berlin Betty” or “Tokyo Rose”? Really, this is nothing new with the exception of the paid Kremlin Trolls on the internet and the bribery of European moguls by a decidedly unfriendly nation.
    These are prices of the shrinking world we live in where international conflagration is less than 30 minutes away at any time and a man stands in a position of power who has no desire to live unless his dreams of domination become reality.

  10. “EU leaders, most especially in the Baltic states, have been alarmed at how Russia has used its propaganda machine to get support for its policies in Europe.”

    Nice propaganda piece. It implies all Westerners are on the same page and any opposition are all just paid Putin trolls. So now the West is going to ramp up its anti-Russia propaganda and the same public that bought that WMD garbage is falling for the Russia is evil meme….

    Pretty sick how easy it is to manipulate the masses…

    Are any of you stupid clowns, who consider this complex issue a simple black and white one, thinking this stupidity through to a possible logical conclusion…???

    What is it…??? What is Washington and the media pushing for? Eventual WWIII…?

  11. You mean those little green men in Crimea weren’t Russians mixed in with the rebels? Even your boy Putin acknowledged they were there after the fact. Also, why would Putin broker 2 agreements if he didn’t have a hand in it? Who in the world would waste their time with meetings to discuss something they’re not a part of…it doesn’t make sense. Also, why would the US broker a deal over something they’re not directly involved in militarily? Ukraine isn’t part of NATO thus that problem Russia created is a EU problem. Your boy Putin broke international law by annexing Crimea but I bet his silly a$$ won’t mess with NATO countries otherwise the hammer will come down on Russia! As for your so called coup, show me irrefutable proof that the US was involved from credible sources NOT in Russia. Lastly, those Russian backed rebels are responsible for MH17 and guess who likely had to train those rebels to operate that BUK missile system? Surely some rag tag group of rebels wouldn’t have the know how to use such a system. Are you aware of this following fact or does Putin keep this kind of information from you also? ” Immediately after the crash, a post appeared on the VKontakte social media website attributed to Russian Colonel Igor Girkin, leader of the Donbass separatists, claiming responsibility for shooting down an AN-26,[10][11][12]
    but after it became clear that a civilian aircraft had been shot down,
    the separatists denied any involvement, and the post was taken down.”

  12. Its going to be pretty hard now that EU, NATO and the US have gotten such a solid reputation for obvious lies.
    No one is buying the stories about hundreds of invisible Russian tanks crossing the border and fighting in Ukraine,
    and the truth about the N@azi influences in Ukraine is getting out, and the true stories about how unpopular the war is in Ukraine are leaking through the internet. The US and EU ridiculed the idea that the Ukrainian fighters were N@zi’s, but the reporters covering the Ukrainian retreat from Debaltsva were not able to avoid filming the hundreds of swastikas and
    SS symbols left behind on flags and signs abandoned by the Ukrainians. Being caught in such a big lie is never helpful.
    Now that the internet goes to every county, they have to cope with the fact that people know Poroshenko has so little influence in Ukraine that 90% of the men drafted refuse to show up for induction. No one is willing to kill for Poroshenko. The story was covered up in Western media, but played well everywhere else – including in the Kyiv Post, about the most
    pro-Ukrainian outlet in the world – and people here could see it.
    Every day NATO and the US and EU claim that more invisible Russian tanks cross the border. It began to get silly when the total numbers of tanks claimed got so high that there wouldn’t be places to park them all – and every one of them still invisible to cameras.
    The faithful were still trying to believe the stories, but like most bad liars, the US and NATO didn’t know when to stop.
    They really pushed the envelope of believability when they announced last month that five Russian armored battalions had crossed into Ukraine and joined the fight, but they said they forgot to take a picture. That would have been 3000 men, 600 tanks, 500 support vehicles moving in a line almost 30 miles long – and they forgot to click the shutter on the satellite cameras or even take a little cell phone snap of a line of armor 30 miles long.
    Fewer and fewer people are buying the ridiculous stories.
    For almost a year now, the EU and the US have been claiming the Crimea referendum was rigged. They babble about soldiers forcing people to vote for Russia, and there being a “little green men” on every corner. Now we are getting copious evidence that the referendum in Crimea was fair and impartial. In the past few months several polling companies, none of them Russian, have found that 80+% of the people in Ukraine think the referendum was fair and about the same percentage are still happy they seceded. That is real egg in the face moment when you have been screaming for a year that it couldn’t be so.
    Its gonna be pretty hard to carry out a propaganda campaign when you been caught lying so much, but when the truth is so unfriendly, propaganda is your only defense.

  13. That is because you’re obviously blind and are purposely choosing to not acknowledge it. Like all other Russian-sympathizers.

  14. Its going to be pretty hard now that EU, NATO and the US have gotten such a solid reputation for obvious lies.
    No one is buying the stories about hundreds of invisible Russian tanks crossing the border and fighting in Ukraine,
    and the truth about the Nazi influences in Ukraine is getting out, and the true stories about how unpopular the war is in Ukraine are leaking through the internet.
    The US and EU ridiculed the idea that the Ukrainian fighters were Nazi’s, but the reporters covering the Ukrainian retreat
    from Debaltsva were not able to avoid filming the hundreds of swastikas and SS symbols left behind on flags and signs abandoned by the Ukrainians. Being caught in such a big lie is never helpful.
    Now that the internet goes to every county, they have to cope with the fact that people know Poroshenko has so little influence in Ukraine that 90% of the men drafted refuse to show up for induction. No one is willing to kill for Poroshenko. The story was covered up in Western media, but played well everywhere else – including in the Kyiv Post, about the most pro-Ukrainian outlet in the world – and people here could see it.
    Every day NATO and the US and EU claim that more invisible Russian tanks cross the border. It began to get silly when the total numbers of tanks claimed got so high that there wouldn’t be places to park them all – and everyone of them still invisible to cameras.
    The faithful were still trying to believe the stories, but like most bad liars, the US and NATO didn’t know when to stop.
    They really pushed the envelope of believability when they announced last month that five Russian armored battalions had crossed into Ukraine and joined the fight, but they said they forgot to take a picture. That would have been 3000
    men, 600 tanks, 500 support vehicles moving in a line almost 30 miles long – and they forgot to click the shutter on the satellite cameras or even take a little cell phone snap of a line of armor 30 miles long.
    Fewer and fewer people are buying the ridiculous stories.
    Now we are getting copious evidence that the referendum in Crimea was fair and impartial. The EU and the US have been screaming about soldiers forcing people to vote for Russia, and claiming the whole thing was rigged. In the past few months several polling companies, none of them Russian, have found that 80+% of the people in Ukraine think the referendum was fair and about the same percentage are still happy they seceded. That is real egg in the face moment when you have been screaming for a year that it couldn’t be so.
    Its gonna be pretty hard to carry out a propaganda campaign when you been caught lying so much, but when the truth is so unfriendly, propaganda is your only defense.

  15. 1) The author is Ukranian.
    2) The current crisis began with the US backed and funded coup of the existing Ukranian government.
    3) Russia has brokered both the Minsk I and Minsk II peace accords, the US has brokered none.
    4) Joe Biden’s son is on the board of directors of Burisma Energy, Ukraine’s largest company but he doesn’t speak Ukranian and was recently kicked out of the Navy for cocaine abuse.
    5) John Kerry’s son in law and another close family friend are also on the Burisma board of directors and neither one speaks Ukranian.
    6) Kiev is inviting foreign troops into the Ukraine in clear violation of the Minsk II agreement.
    7) The current Ukranian finance minister is Natalie Jaresko who received her Ukranian citizenship the same day she was named finance minister. She is also a former USAID employee that profited hugely from private Ukranian contracts.
    8) Der Spiegel has recently reported that NATO comander GEN Breedlove routinely ovestates estimates of Russian involvement in the Ukraine.
    9) What would the US do if Russia overthrew the Mexican government and placed a patsy in charge of the government while positioning Russian troops on the US-Mexico border?
    10) There is not one shred of evidence that Russia has sent troops into the Ukraine, or had anything to do with MH17 yet the sanctions continue. This gives away the West’s objectives, and they are lies.

  16. The EU and West in general is coming late to the table in this form of warfare, and it is warfare. It would not be so hard if some of these nations (Especially the U.S.) had better education budgets and programs, but people are easily manipulated and tend to believe a lot of what they read on the internet without checking facts elsewhere. The other problem is how do you prevent these countries from resulting in a form of brainwashing of their own citizens, even if the intention is good? This has always been going on in some degree in every nation, national anthems and slogans that were made a part of everyday life to engender a sense of unity and loyalty to ones country, these can now become more intense forms of partly / national line programming, Russia has been excellent at it for ages with its near total control of all media in it’s territory.

  17. Another in Ms. Tikhonova’s series of anti-Russian propaganda, this one particularly ironic. If the world is ‘finally realizing’ anything, it certainly is not for want of her constantly slanting every event starting with the sun getting up in the morning, as well as entertaining? us with apocalyptic and apocryphal tales of the imagination. I’m sure she’ll call me a troll, a facile attempt to disenfranchise whoever doesn’t share her homegrown bias and who knows Russians to be a proud but peace-loving people, who *will* defend their own.

Comments are closed.