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Kremlin Watch Monitor June 6, 2016

Weekly update on Kremlin disinformation efforts in Europe
  • „Don’t believe anything the Kremlin doesn’t first deny.” This is one of many jokes tweeted by a satirical Twitter account @DarthPutinKGB with more than 50, 000 followers, which got suspended for a few hours alongside several other accounts impersonating Russian officials. Their suspension triggered an outrage among many Twitter users, who came with a hashtag #NoGulagforDarthPutinKGB to their support. All accounts have been eventually reinstated.

 

  • The Russian Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov got interviewed by Tim Sebastian from Deutche Welle. You can watch the whole interview here.
  • Several fake allegations and disinformation about the recently released Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko are reported in the new edition of StopFake News as well as in the latest issue of Disinformation Review by the East StratCom Task Force.
  • Information War Monitor for Central Europe to which we regularly contribute presents an overview of Russian propaganda takes on European Union, migration, the US and NATO, TTIP negotiations and Brexit.

Kremlin Watch reading suggestions

“In the Area or Out of Business:” Building Resilience to Hybrid Attacks; by Mário Nicolini and our Jakub Janda, The Polish Institute of International Affairs

Even though Article 5 is NATO’s ultimate security guarantee, it is only the very last in a long chain of measures that need to be functioning in order to respond to today’s most probable and lethal threats. The Alliance has spent the last two years implementing the agreed Readiness Action Plan and reassuring eastern members not only with rhetoric, but also by taking more action and putting more troops on the eastern border. This is all what one would expect a political-military alliance to do when it is threatened. The evolution of NATO’s posture towards Russia has proven to NATO members, and, arguably, to their adversaries, that the Alliance still has a mission.

Europe Still in Denial as Russia Ushers in the Age of Hybrid Hostilities; by Peter Dickinson, the Atlantic Council

The upcoming discussion of European leaders about the extension of sanctions against Russia points to the alarming refusal to acknowledge the new security reality facing the continent. While official EU statements speak of the need to maintain sanctions, this has not stopped France from welcoming sanctioned Russian government ministers, Germany champions from increasing dependency on Russian energy supplies, Spain from servicing Russian warships and Greece from acclaiming Putin himself with undisguised imperial pomp. This kind of policy encourages the Kremlin to escalate a hybrid war campaign against the European Union. Russia’s hybrid war tactics are rooted in the assumption that modern Europeans have no stomach for geopolitical confrontation and will always back don when faced with the prospect of having to pay a price for their principles. Unless the rest of Europe is prepared to foot at least part of the bill, the outcome may well prove disastrous for the entire continent.

Euroatlantic Experts on Disinformation Warfare

  • Andrew Higgins describes the abilities of pro-Russian online trolls during the case of the retaliatory campaign of harassment and insults against the Finnish journalist Jessica Aro in the New York Times
  • Brian Whitmore explains Vladimir Putin’s need to make a “Cold War reality show” in RFE/RL.

Tweet of the Week

 

Current state of pro-Kremlin scene in the Czech Republic

  • The Government Council for Nationalities issued a report stating that the division of opinions among Russian minority in the Czech Republic exceeded the limit of a desirable pluralism with manifestations of promotion of authoritarian systems and politicians which are in conflict with the democratic values of state. According to the report, the situation got more complicated because of the tensions between Russia and the EU concerning Ukraine and rivalry of Russian businesses and their conflict of interests in the Czech Republic. The report also alludes Putin’s regime propaganda.
  • During the last week, Czech pro-Kremlin websites came up with several articles presenting Russia as the power to be feared in case of provoking a war with it. Several websites were very concerned with the anti-missile shield placed in Romania. According to them, it is clear that it is not a defence system, while also being too weak to actually have any effect if Russia decides to go to an open conflict with Europe. (123)

 “Be careful what you wish for: Russia is ready for war”

  • One article quoted a US professor Stephen Cohen who said in the John Batchelor show that the US was responsible for the possibility of a full-scale conflict with Russia and wondered what Russian action could have provoked such an escalation. He considers the situation in the eastern Ukraine to be a questionable trigger because Russia did not occupy or threaten any country.
  • Several websites warned against the impeding war citing Fort Russ. They claim that a NATO military exercise in Ukraine which should take place in the middle of June is suspicious because no western media inform about it and because “the Israeli ships seem to try to get all their liquid assets from the territory”, whatever that is supposed to mean. They consider the situation alarming. (1,23)

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