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21.03.2017

Please start taking the Russian disinformation threat seriously!

kiselyov again
   

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.

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

Petr Boháček, Director, European Security Journal

Eto Buziashvili, Programs Director, Georgian Strategic Analysis Center

Boris Chykulay, The Forum of Ukrainians of the Czech Republic

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

Jaba Devdariani, Chief Editor, The Clarion

Steffen Dobbert, Political Editor, ZEIT ONLINE

Jonathan Eyal, Associate Director of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies

Yevhen Fedchenko, Co-founfer, StopFake.org

Roland Freudenstein, Policy Director, Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies

Simon Gerber, swissukraine.org

Anna Garmash, Chairwoman of the Ukraine Action

Gustav Gressel, ECFR – European Council on Foreign Relations

Stepan Grigoryan, Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation

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

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

Laurynas Kasciunas, Member of Lithuanian Parliament, National security and defence committee

Garry Kasparov, Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation

Tunne Kelam, MEP

Maksym Khylko, Chairman of the Board, East European Security Research Initiative Foundation

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

Grigorij Mesežnikov, President of the Institute for Public Affairs

Ben Nimmo, information defense fellow, Digital Forensic Research Lab, Atlantic Council

Stefan Meister, Head of the Robert Bosch Center for Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia at the German Council on Foreign Relations

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

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

Evan O’Connell, Senior Consultant, Aspect Consulting

Patrik Oksanen, editorial writer on security, defence and EU for MittMedia Newsgroup Sweden

Bjarne Kim Pedersen, Author

Amanda Paul, European Policy Centre, Senior Policy Analyst

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

Adam Reichardt, New Eastern Europe

Julian Röpcke, Political Editor, BILD

Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, MEP

Szabolcs Panyi, Journalist, Index.hu

Alya Shandra, Euromaidan Press, managing editor

Anton Shekhovtsov, Research Associate, Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation

Eugeniusz Smolar, Centre for International Relations

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

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)

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

Tornike Zurabashvili, Editor-in-Chief, Civil.ge

http://www.europeanvalues.net/mogherini/

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