France calls on EU for new sanctions on Russia for its disinformation campaign

Bloomberg reported that France is requesting that the EU implement new measures to target Russian disinformation and electoral meddling globally, citing a draft proposal from Paris.

The idea “would target those responsible for threatening the stability, security, or sovereignty of EU member states or third countries by undermining elections, the rule of law, facilitating acts of violence, or doing so through the use of information manipulation and interference,” according to Bloomberg.

As stated in the paper, the plan would enable the EU to impose more severe sanctions on people and organizations engaged in Russian-sponsored destabilizing actions around the world. It has the support of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and Poland.

Russian regime has taken actions to undermine democracy in the EU – report

According to the draft paper, “as the Russian regime has taken actions to undermine democracy, stability, and the rule of law through a variety of hybrid instruments,” destabilizing operations carried out by groups connected to Russia have also spread throughout Europe.

According to officials who spoke with Bloomberg, EU officials are especially worried about Russian disinformation and meddling in this year’s EU parliamentary election. They added that during the past five years, there has been a noticeable increase in the amount of misinformation. 

Earlier in April, the governments of Belgium and Czechia issued warnings that Russia was running a network of disinformation and influence aimed at the impending EU parliamentary election.

In order to split allies on topics like support for Ukraine and deteriorate ties with nations in the so-called Global South, the European Union has made countering the spreading wave of Russian disinformation its top priority ahead of the EU’s June legislative elections.

Russia makes no effort to propagate misinformation throughout Europe, especially with regard to its war of aggression in Ukraine.

“Voice of Europe” website is the tip of the iceberg

In our recent research we have identified news websites in the EU, including France, 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 media platform, which found itself at the center of the scandal surrounding Russian influence in Europe two months ahead of the European Parliament elections, is newly created, has a small audience, and seems to be unremarkable. However, it has successfully invited European politicians, including far-right and pro-Russian MEPs to appear on its TV programmes.

A pro-Russian platform in France, that clones RT (Russia Today), banned by the EU for disinformation, Le Réseau International, tried to make a little-known pro-Kremlin website famous in the country. The VoE’s articles were also quoted by the french websites Les Moutons Enrages, Resistance Republicaine, and Egalite et Reconciliation which is also part of a network of pro-Kremlin websites.

The Voice of Europe website, which was at the center of a scandal over the spread of Russian propaganda in Europe and possible bribery of MEPs, was not closed for long. The pro-Russian website has resumed its work after migrating to a hosting in Kazakhstan.

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.

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.

The websites in the disclosed network have different levels of bias, from constant criticism of the West, choosing only negative information about Ukraine and positive coverage of Russia, to spreading well-known Russian fakes and harsh Kremlin propaganda quoting Putin’s state media. 

Russia steps up its hybrid war in Europe

A synchronized probe by many EU nations into a Russian network of influence that reportedly financed far-right MEPs has raised alarms in the EU. According to the prominent Spanish media outlet EL PAIS, Russia’s hybrid war in Europe employs a variety of techniques, including espionage, misinformation and propaganda efforts, and influence activities, to cause havoc and destabilize Europe.

Two months before the vital European Parliament elections (June 2024), the EU has cautioned in many confidential reports, which EL PAIS has seen, that the Kremlin is intensifying its campaigns. The latest coordinated investigation by multiple European intelligence agencies against a Kremlin influence network has raised anxieties.

Investigators suspect politicians from the Czech Republic, Germany, France, Poland, the Netherlands, and Hungary are involved in this scheme, but they have not ruled out the possibility that the network was also active with MEPs from other EU member states.

In this context, the EU and member states see a need a mechanism to swiftly identify and sanction new websites that spread pro-Kremlin propaganda and fake stories, as they threaten security.

Experts and EU states need to monitor these sites, and readers should question such content because efforts that favor Russia in the information field in times of geopolitical confrontation play into the hands of the Putin regime and are detrimental to Europeans. After all, Russia has shown that it is waging not only a war on the battlefield to destroy Ukraine but also an information war to break up a united Europe.

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