EU supports sanctions against Russian propaganda media as part of new package

The European Union will place four Russian state-run media outlets and Kremlin-linked news websites on its blacklist, and following a meeting of EU ambassadors on May 15, other measures for the 14th sanctions package against Moscow are still under discussion.

Commissioner for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova announced the addition of four Kremlin-linked propaganda networks to the sanctions list: Voice of Europe, RIA Novosti, Izvestija, and Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

The EU ambassadors reached an agreement in principle on channels that contain both online media and newspapers, Euractiv reported.

Voice of Europe, RIA Novosti, Izvestija, and Rossiyskaya Gazeta

EU envoys have not yet specified the restrictions that will apply to the news platforms, but Russian state media sanctioned for propaganda, like Sputnik and RT, have already lost their broadcasting rights within the bloc.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded by warning that Western journalists might face retaliation for the impending penalties.

“I want to remind all those Brussels hotheads that there are dozens of journalists from EU countries who live very happily and comfortably in Russia.” Should the EU or individual countries adopt such measures against Russian journalists and media, we will immediately and painfully respond to the Westerners,” Zakharova declared.

The sectoral action would be part of the EU’s next 14-sanctions package, which diplomats seek to finalize by the end of June, when Hungary takes over as rotating Council president.

Sanctions against Voice of Europe and Putin’s ally Medvedchuk

In March, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala announced the dismantling of a Russian influence network that operated through the news website Voice of Europe, which was headquartered in Prague.

According to Czech investigators, Voice of Europe is run by pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, a close Putin’s ally who is godfather to his daughter. Medvedchuk now lives in Moscow. He was accused of high treason in Ukraine, but he was handed over to Russia by Ukraine in a PoWs exchange.

As reported by Czech daily Deník N, the Czech government has imposed sanctions on Medvedchuk and Voice of Europe for violating national sovereignty.

According to its online evidence, the now-closed website distributed interviews, analysis, and news-like items with an obvious far-right leaning, as well as disinformation and populist posts. The Czech intelligence believes Kremlin networks utilized this website to transfer thousands of euros to European lawmakers in cash or cryptocurrencies.

Why the Voice of Europe case is important?

The Voice of Europe’s articles are focused on negative coverage of Ukraine, the EU, and European leadership. They probably target fueling tensions, unrest in Europe, and anti-EU sentiment. The website also politely highlights Russia and criticizes the Western sanctions against the Kremlin.

In our research we have identified news websites in the EU and the US which reposted or quoted articles and interviews produced by the pro-Russian media platform “Voice of Europe” hit by a a recent scandal and sanctioned by the Czech government. The Voice of Europe website has recently resumed its operation, having migrated to hosting in Kazakhstan. 

The citations of this notorious platform helped us identify other news sites in Europe which promote pro-Kremlin narratives, and the politicians who support their efforts. Russian state propaganda media cite the EU-based website’s articles to confirm the ‘authoritativeness’  of the reporting and the information shared. 

In the Voice of Europe case we have seen that Moscow attempts using EU-registered news websites disguised as neutral or alternative to legitimize Russian propaganda narratives and increase the credibility of its statements, as almost no one in the world believes Russian state propaganda outlets like RT and Sputnik anymore.

The “Voice of Europe” case might be just a tip of an iceberg. In our recent research we have identified a large pro-Russian websites network in Europe spreading narratives that fit the Kremlin agenda.

Should we expect sanctions on Russian LNG?

The European Commission recommended actions against Russia’s liquefied natural gas business and maritime enterprises that help Russia evade an existing EU oil embargo, according to an earlier proposal that Euractiv reviewed.

While they would not outright prohibit Russian LNG imports into the union, they would prohibit enterprises shipping to EU countries from re-exporting Russian LNG after receiving it.

Instead of a blanket ban, EU officials suggested that member states consider imposing limits on three Russian LNG projects as well as the re-export of Russian LNG from EU ports (primarily France, Spain, and Belgium).

In addition, France and the Netherlands have proposed sanctioning any financial institution worldwide that assists Russia’s war machine and weapon production in purchasing products or technology to produce military equipment.

According to EU diplomats, such a restriction would serve as a powerful tool in countering the circumvention of EU restrictive measures in other countries, as it would significantly affect their financial market standing.

However, other partners, especially the United States, which has a far stronger market than Europe, would need to coordinate such a move.

Read all articles by Insight News Media on Google News, subscribe and follow.
Scroll to Top