CounterPropaganda · Information Warfare · Russia

Open Letter of European security experts to Federica Mogherini: Please start taking the Russian disinformation threat seriously!


The aggressive actions of the Kremlin are unprecedented in the modern era. Invasion of neighbouring countries, massive bombings and killings of civilians, and the first annexation of a foreign land by force in Europe since World War II, constant violations of other states’ borders, kidnapping foreign citizens, harassment of foreign diplomats, or massive cyber attacks are all in Russia’s current regime toolkit.

Copyright by World Economic Forum, Photo by Remy Steinegger, CC BY-SA 2.0

All these offensive incidents are accompanied by a massive, persistent, ongoing, brutally aggressive disinformation campaign. A campaign that has been active in Europe for at least three years, establishing its channels, finding the right amplifiers and multipliers for its message – which is aimed at destabilising our societies, meddling in our elections and referendums, misleading our political leaders and breaking up the EU unity by supporting those who want to destroy it. It has been building a wide range of communication structures in most of the EU Member States, platforms that have already been functioning for a long time and have reached considerable results that cannot be erased without significant long-term counter-effort.

Yet, our reaction is irresponsibly weak. We see questioning and marginalizing of the issue on multiple levels, on claims such as that there is actually no disinformation campaign; that it is not happening in our countries; that it is not corrosive. We see blindness and refusal to admit that someone is actively working to undermine our societies and to destroy the world order that has been established after the World War II and has provided the Euroatlantic world with an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity.

Despite the seriousness of this threat, the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Federica Mogherini has spent the last two years trying to avoid naming Russia as the main creator of hostile disinformation. We as European security experts have seen her constantly appease the Russian aggression.

When European leaders called for an EU action against “ongoing Russian disinformation campaigns” in March 2015, they really meant it. If she keeps avoiding naming the Russian Federation and its proxies as the main source of hostile disinformation operations, she is systematically neglecting a clear threat perceived by many EU Member States that she represents. Moreover, the only real EU response to this threat—an eleven-man EEAS East STRATCOM Team (paid mainly by member states, not by the EU institution that barely tolerates it)—is absurdly understaffed. Regardless of the European Parliament’s calls for its reinforcement, it is reportedly not going to happen at all. This team has no budget whatsoever – despite being tasked by the European Council to counter the Kremlin disinformation machine, which is boosted by over 1 billion euro annually. Based on decision of the EEAS leadership run by Federica Mogherini, the EU spends literally nothing on countering one of the biggest challenges of our world today – a hostile disinformation campaign, which is successfully undermining our democratic societies. The right thing to do would be to triple capacity of the EEAS East STRATCOM Team and give it a budget in single millions EUR, so it can start fulfilling its mandate.

Based on an enormous and conclusive mass of evidence, it is clear that Mr. Putin wants to destroy the liberal world order, which the EU stands to defend, and he does everything possible to achieve this goal. And yet he still finds many conscious and unconscious allies in Europe.

We as European security experts call on our leaders to face this malign threat. We call on our democratic leaders to finally start taking this threat seriously and making it a top priority security issue. Our leaders need to publicly name it and expose its aims, such as weakening the EU, destabilising its societies, misleading its political leaders, and interfering in its elections. We need our leaders to order our security institutions to publicly expose Kremlin actions and actors. Europeans need to know by who and how they are being manipulated.

Mrs. Mogherini, if you continue to do nothing in order to face this threat, the enemies of democracy will keep winning, and the damage to our societies might become beyond repair. The time is now.

This Open Call is coordinated by the Kremlin Watch Program at the European Values Think-Tank.

Coordinator of this Call:

Jakub Janda, Head of Kremlin Watch Program, Deputy Director of the European Values Think-Tank, janda@evropskehodnoty.cz

Signatories (in alphabetical order):

  • Willem Aldershoff, Former Head of Unit, European Commission, Analyst international Affairs
  • Lawrence Alexander, Volunteer Contributor, Bellingcat
  • Laima Andrikienė, MEP
  • Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer Prize–winning author
  • Antoine Arjakovsky, Founder Director of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies, Lviv, Ukraine
  • Petras Auštrevičius, MEP
  • Eitvydas Bajarunas, Ambassador-at-Large for Hybrid Threats, MFA of Lithuania
  • Jars Balan, Coordinator of the Kule Ukrainain Canadian Studies Centre, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies
  • Mykolas Bazaras, LMTA, doctorate
  • Marieluise Beck, Member of the German Parliament
  • Petr Boháček, Director, European Security Journal
  • Anda Burger-Rozite, Journalist, irir.lv
  • Eto Buziashvili, Programs Director, Georgian Strategic Analysis Center
  • Boris Chykulay, The Forum of Ukrainians of the Czech Republic
  • Iurie Condrea, ONG Moldova Chisinau
  • Halya Coynash, Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
  • Maks Czuperski, Director, Digital Forensic Research Lab, Atlantic Council
  • Tomáš Čižik, Centre for European and North Atlantic Affairs, Director
  • Sławomir Dębski, Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM), Director
  • Jaba Devdariani, Chief Editor, The Clarion
  • Steffen Dobbert, Political Editor, ZEIT ONLINE
  • Adam Eberhardt, Director, Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW)
  • Kestutis Eidukonis, LR Seimo/PLB commission member
  • Jonathan Eyal, Associate Director of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies
  • Yevhen Fedchenko, Co-founfer, StopFake.org
  • Andrej Ferdinand, Novak European Cosmopolitan Consulting, Senior Consultant
  • Roland Freudenstein, Policy Director, Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies
  • Iulian Fota, Director, National Intelligence College, Romania
  • Nicole Gallina, political scientist, osteuropastudien.wordpress.com
  • Penelope Gate, Teacher, Universita’ Popolare Rome
  • Paata Gaprindashvili, Director, Georgia’s Reforms Associates
  • Anna Garmash, Chairwoman of the Ukraine Action
  • Simon Gerber, swissukraine.org
  • Ariana Gic, Chair, Direct Initiaitive
  • Rob Gill, Chair, Irish-Ukrainian Solidarity Group
  • Gustav Gressel, ECFR – European Council on Foreign Relations
  • Stepan Grigoryan, Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation
  • Oleg Chabala, The Civil Committee of National Security of Ukraine, Senior Policy Analyst
  • Pavel Havlicek, Associate Fellow at the Association for International Affairs (AMO) in Prague
  • Mall Hellam, Open Estonia Foundation, Executive Director
  • Thomas Hendrik Ilves, former President of Estonia (2006-2016) and Liautaud visiting fellow, at CISAC, Center for Security and Co-operation, Stanford University
  • Eliot Higgins, Founder and Director, Bellingcat
  • John Jacobs, Youth, Atlantic Treaty Association – President
  • Nina Jankowicz, Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellow, Ukraine
  • John (Ivan) Jaworsky, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Political Science, University of Waterloo, Canada
  • Mats Johansson, Chairman of the Stockholm Free World Forum
  • Mark Jordan, University of Georgia, Advisor (retired)
  • Laurynas Kasciunas, Member of Lithuanian Parliament, National security and defence committee
  • Garry Kasparov, Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation
  • Tunne Kelam, MEP
  • Zoltán Kész, MP in Hungary
  • Maksym Khylko, Chairman of the Board, East European Security Research Initiative Foundation
  • Marcus Kolga, Editor, UpNorth.eu, Senior Fellow Macdonald-Laurier Foreign Policy Centre
  • Peter Kreko, Senior Associate, Political Capital Institute
  • Eerik-Niiles Kross, Member of Parliament, former National Security Co-ordinator, Estonia
  • Andis Kudors, Executive director of the Centre for East European Policy Studies
  • Andrii Lavreniuk, UKRINFORM Staff Correspondent in Brussels
  • Niels Ivar Larsen, The independent Danish Daily Information, editor
  • Radu Magdin, analyst, former advisor to the Romanian Prime Minister
  • Rey Marcin, Blogger, Rosyjska V Kolumna w Polsce, Poland
  • Athanasius McVay, Historian, archival reserarcher, Fellow of the Chair of Ukrainian Studies, University of Toronto
  • Grigorij Mesežnikov, President of the Institute for Public Affairs
  • Ben Nimmo, information defense fellow, Digital Forensic Research Lab, Atlantic Council
  • Jelena Milic, Director, Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies
  • Nerijus Maliukevičius, Scientific researcher at Vilnius University Institute of International Relations and Political Science
  • Mantas Martišius, Scientific researcher at Vilnius University Communication faculty
  • Rita Miliute, Lithuanian Radio and Television, journalist
  • Daniel Milo, Head of STRATCOM Program, GLOBSEC Policy Institute
  • Jaroslav Nad, Director, Slovak Security Policy Institute
  • Gintarė Narkevičiūtė, Director for Foreign Affairs, The Ronald Reagan House
  • Mário Nicolini, Founder & Honorary President, Euro-Atlantic Center
  • Konrad Niklewicz, Civic Institute, managing deputy director
  • Paul Niland, Writer and commentator on Ukrainian affairs
  • James Nixey, Head of the Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House
  • Renatas Norkus, Director of the Transatlantic Cooperation & Security Policy Department, MFA of Lithuania
  • Vít Novotný, Senior Research Officer, Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies
  • Evan O’Connell, Senior Consultant, Aspect Consulting
  • Patrik Oksanen, editorial writer on security, defence and EU for MittMedia Newsgroup Sweden
  • Oleg Panfilov, Ilia State University, Professor
  • Jane Pannell, Former RN, project Director, University of California San Francisco, USA
  • Bjarne Kim Pedersen, Author
  • Marco Pelliccia, Bangor Business School, Assistant Professor
  • Amanda Paul, European Policy Centre, Senior Policy Analyst
  • Szabolcs Panyi, Journalist, Index.hu
  • Zygimahtas Pavilionis, Chair of Transatlantic and Democracy Subcommittee at the Lithuanian Parliament
  • Nataliia Popovych, Co-Founder, Ukraine Crisis Media Center
  • Dmytro Potekhin, Nonviolent Solutions Agency
  • Oleksandr Potiekhin, Director of the Center for Peace, Conversion and Foreign Policy of Ukraine
  • Wojciech Przybylski, Res Publica Nowa
  • Tudor Radu, Pol & Mil Analyst, Antena 3 TV Romania
  • Adam Reichardt, New Eastern Europe
  • Julian Röpcke, Political Editor, BILD
  • Sven Salumets, NGO Vaba Ukraina, Member of the Board, Estonia
  • Peter H. Sandin, Founder and Director, VerbalLitteratur
  • Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, MEP
  • Alya Shandra, Euromaidan Press, managing editor
  • Anton Shekhovtsov, Research Associate, Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation
  • Eugeniusz Smolar, Centre for International Relations
  • Ivana Smolenova, Prague Security Studies Institute
  • Ruslan Stefanov, Director, Economic Program, Center for the Study of Democracy
  • Jaromír Štětina, MEP, Vice-Chair of Subcommittee on Security and Defence
  • Jana Streleca, NGO “Ukrainas konfliktā cietušo atbalsta fonds”, Chairlady
  • Pavel Svoboda, EP Committee on Legal Affairs Chair
  • János Széky, Journalist, Élet és Irodalom
  • Justas Šireika, Director, Information Security and Analysis Centre
  • Nicolas Tenzer, Chairman, CERAP (Centre d’étude et de réflexion pour l’Action politique)
  • Haris Trgo, Commentator on European foreign affairs and EU politics
  • Andreas Umland,  Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation
  • Ludmila Verbicka, Co-Founder, Head of the Ukrainian-Slovak initiative
  • Fredrik Wesslau, ECFR, Director of the Wider Europe Programme
  • Kataryna Wolczuk, Professor, University of Birmingham
  • Ernest Wyciszkiewicz, Director, Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding
  • Tornike Zurabashvili, Editor-in-Chief, Civil.ge

Source: http://www.stopfake.org/en/open-letter-of-european-security-experts-to-federica-mogherini-please-start-taking-the-russian-disinformation-threat-seriously/

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