The EU Response to Russian Disinformation

Source — EUvsDiSiNFO gsclibrary — 20 January 2023

Countering disinformation

The fight against disinformation is a long-term challenge for European democracies and societies. Disinformation undermines the trust of citizens in democracy and democratic institutions. It also contributes to the polarisation of public views and interferes in democratic decision-making processes.

Countering disinformation has become particularly urgent in the context of the Russian war in Ukraine. A disinformation campaign of an unparalleled magnitude has been carried out by Russia since the eve of and during its war of aggression against Ukraine began on 24 February 2022. As part of the Kremlin’s hybrid warfare, Ukraine is a target of propaganda and disinformation spread by the Kremlin and other pro-Russian groups.


The EU response to disinformation

Following the call of the European Council in March 2015 for actions to challenge Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns, the EU has strengthened its capabilities to identify and counter disinformation and deal with hybrid threats. Among these initiatives, the European External Action Service (EEAS) East StratCom Task Force established the EUvsDisinfo platform. Its mandate is to forecast, address, and respond to Russia’s disinformation campaigns affecting the European Union, its Member States, and countries in the region.

Since February 2022, EU vs Disinformation has tracked more than 237 disinformation cases relating to Ukraine, and more than 5,500 total disinformation cases about Ukraine since its establishment in 2015 (out of more than 13,000 total examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation).

Learn more about pro-Kremlin disinformation

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Tackling Disinformation, Foreign Information Manipulation & Interference

Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference (FIMI) – also often labelled as “disinformation” – is a growing political and security challenge for the European Union. The capacity of the EEAS to address the FIMI challenge has grown significantly since 2015, when the problem first appeared on the EU’s political agenda. In addition to a more precise understanding and diagnosis of the problem – from ‘fake news’, to ‘disinformation’, to Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference – the EEAS has been developing and improving the means to prevent, deter and respond to FIMI. It has done so in close contact and collaboration with other EU institutions, Member States, international partners such as the G7 and NATO, civil society organizations, academia, journalists, media and private industry. In addition, the three Strategic Communications Task Forces cover and help respond to FIMI activity in the Eastern Partnership, the Southern Neighbourhood and the Western Balkans. The EEAS is also working to protect its CSDP missions abroad and build capacities of EU Delegations to address FIMI.

Defining FIMI – FIMI is a mostly non-illegal pattern of behaviour that threatens or has the potential to negatively impact values, procedures and political processes. Such activity is manipulative in character, conducted in an intentional and coordinated manner. Actors of such activity can be state or non-state actors, including their proxies inside and outside of their own territory. (Source: EEAS)

Questions and Answers about the East StratCom Task Force