Russia sets up information warfare units

Sergei Shoigu [The Kremlin]

Russia’s military has created a force tasked with waging information warfare, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said yesterday (22 February), in a move likely to heighten the West’s concerns about what it sees as Moscow-sponsored “fake news”.

Russian military planners, like their counterparts elsewhere, see the spreading of propaganda as a crucial part of modern warfare.

The Kremlin ‘full of enthusiasm’ to interfere in EU elections

Full of enthusiasm for Brexit and Trump’s election, the Kremlin will actively interfere with this year’s elections in Europe, first and foremost in France and Germany, but also in the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, an opponent to Russian President Vladimir Putin told EURACTIV.com yesterday (17 January).

Moscow’s activities in this area are under intense scrutiny after US intelligence agencies accused the Kremlin of mounting an “influence operation” to help Donald Trump win the US presidential election last November.

British spy behind Trump’s ‘kompromat’ also investigated EU's Georgieva

EXCLUSIVE / Christopher Steele, a former Russia operations officer for Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency who is purported to be the author of a dossier of allegations against US President-elect Donald Trump, has also investigated former Bulgarian Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, EURACTIV.com can reveal.

European intelligence agencies have also said Moscow is seeking to destabilise governments and influence elections in Europe with cyber-attacks and fake news. Moscow has denied interfering in other countries’ elections.

Commission: Russian propaganda has deeply penetrated EU countries

A European Commission official has said that Russian propaganda was now powerful in all EU member states – but in some of them Moscow barely needed to make the effort, as local politicians were delivering its messages.

In an address to the State Duma, or lower house of parliament, Shoigu said the new troops tasked with information warfare are more potent and effective than those used in the past.

“Propaganda must be smart, competent and effective,” the TASS news agency quoted Shoigu as saying. It did not specify when the troops were created.

Macron campaign 'targeted' by Russian 'fake news' and cyberattacks

French presidential favourite Emmanuel Macron is being targeted by Russian media and internet attacks from within Russia with the goal of helping the election campaigns of his pro-Moscow rivals, his party chief said on Monday (13 February).

Vladimir Shamanov, the head of the State Duma defence committee, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that the information operations troops have been “mainly created for the protection of the interests of national defence and for counter-activities in the information sphere”.

“Essentially the information conflict is a component of general conflict. Deriving from that, Russia has made an effort to form structures that are engaged in this matter,” he said.

Last week, General Petr Pavel, a Czech who heads NATO’s military committee, said that Russia was behind a false report of a rape by German soldiers in Lithuania, warning that Europe should expect more such “fake news”.

Russian activist: If Putin regains Ukraine, the Baltics are next

Vladimir Putin’s strategy is to install pro-Moscow politicians in Ukraine. If Europe consents, his next stop will be the Baltic countries, with NATO incapable of defending them, which will put an end to the organisation, Ilya Yashin told EURACTIV.com in an exclusive interview.

Estonia’s Foreign Minister Sven Mikser said he also expected more “hostile propaganda” from Russia due to its anger over the buildup of NATO forces in the Baltic republics near to its western borders.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe

Want to know what's going on in the EU Capitals daily? Subscribe now to our new 9am newsletter.