Milan Šuplata and Milan Ni? (The Central European Policy Institute)
Russia is currently waging an information war against the West. Rather than trying to promote itself, Moscow is aiming at undermining the unity among Western nations and eventually dismantling the Western security architecture. As far as Central Europe is concerned, the Kremlin’s main objective is to undermine confidence in NATO, more precisely in the US and the EU. Russia is also sending a massive wave of disinformation to the media in an effort to present the country in a positive light.
Russia understands very well how to use the power of the Internet and the modern means of communication. The revolution in information technology, decentralization of information flows and the availability of the Internet have allowed Russia to skip the traditional media and thus directly reach the population of Western countries.
Many propaganda pages appeared in Facebook in 2014 and 2015, particularly in connection with the situation in Ukraine. Most of these pages were moreover in the languages of Western countries. Another wave of propaganda websites has emerged in connection with the refugee crisis in Europe. Today it is very difficult to convince Internet users about the authenticity of these sites. One reason is that online discussions are easily flooded by comments of the so-called trolls but also by those who want to respond to the given topic.
Russian propaganda is currently helping to spread negative emotions, mistrust and anger against EU countries’ own allies. Thus, after the official results of the British referendum on the UK’s future in the EU had been announced, Czech President Milos Zeman, for example, expressed his support for the so-called Brexit. This support only demonstrates how divided Europe is and how easily it can succumb to the propaganda from the East.
Brussels plays a major role in this, as it is often criticized for destroying nation states and creating totalitarian regimes in Europe, while the United States, according to the Russian media, makes money out of Europe and Russia, both of which are growing poorer because they are hit by mutual sanctions. In spite of this, European security still remains strong. The step undertaken by NATO are always respected and uniformly accepted despite the diversity of its members. One could therefore say that although Russia has so far failed to undermine the Western unity, it has certainly managed to trigger frustration and confusion.