The EU has voted on a resolution whose aim is to counter “hostile propaganda“ and “disinformation“ from Russia. MEPs said that the Kremlin had escalated its war of words against the EU since the annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and said that Moscow now “employed a wide range of tools and instruments including pseudo-news agencies“ to spread its messages. The aim of Russia’s propaganda was, according to the resolution, to damage the ties between Brussels and Washington, discredit EU institutions and “incite fears and uncertainty“.
Anna Fotyga, the former Polish foreign minister, commented that “as regards the Russian Federation, the situation is now clear. After its annexation of Crimea and aggression in the eastern part of Ukraine, many countries are fully aware of its disinformation and manipulation. This report, in the course of its preparation, was also a target of hostile propaganda“. She added that the Russian government was using a wide range of tools like think tanks, multilingual TV stations, pseudo-news agencies and internet trolls “to challenge democratic values, divide Europe, gather domestic support and create the perception of failed states in the EU’s eastern neighborhood.“
MEPs also condemned the Kremlin’s alleged financing of “anti-EU forces“ such as extreme right parties, which “deny the basic values of liberal democracies“. The Kremlin criticized the resolution and Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he was willing to have an “open discussion“ with the EU on the subject. “It tells us that we are observing a certain, quite obvious, degradation – in a political sense of the word – of how democracy is understood in Western society, in this particular case in the European Parliament,“ Mr Putin commented. “We hope that the resolution will not entail practical steps on curbing the work of the Russia media,“ Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova commented. However, the Kremlin also said it was ready to take retaliatory measures if the resolution is implemented.