Russia's manipulation of information on Ukraine and the EU's response

27-05-2015

Information has become central to the Ukraine crisis, with some analysts even referring to an 'information war' initiated by Russia. Coverage in Russia's largely state-controlled domestic media displays bias, often amounting to disinformation, though it is also increasingly sophisticated. Internationally, multilingual news channel RT is Russia's main media tool, projecting the Kremlin's narrative to a global audience. In Russia itself, the vast majority of people subscribe uncritically to the version of events presented in the country's media. The Russian media are also highly effective in neighbouring countries with large ethnic Russian populations such as the Baltic States. However, the global impact is more mitigated; while RT has garnered a huge international audience, Russia's image has deteriorated substantially in many countries since the start of the Ukraine crisis. At the same time, existing wide-reaching European media outlets are under pressure, either due to financial cuts or – in the case of EU-subsidised Euronews – links to pro-Russian business interests. Proposals to counter Russian disinformation include increased funding for existing western media broadcasting in Russian, like the BBC World Service, or the creation of new ones, such as a jointly operated Russian-language TV channel offering not only news but also entertainment in order to compete with pro-Kremlin media. Some of these proposals are being discussed at EU level, with the aim being for the European Council to adopt an action plan on strategic communication in June

Information has become central to the Ukraine crisis, with some analysts even referring to an 'information war' initiated by Russia. Coverage in Russia's largely state-controlled domestic media displays bias, often amounting to disinformation, though it is also increasingly sophisticated. Internationally, multilingual news channel RT is Russia's main media tool, projecting the Kremlin's narrative to a global audience. In Russia itself, the vast majority of people subscribe uncritically to the version of events presented in the country's media. The Russian media are also highly effective in neighbouring countries with large ethnic Russian populations such as the Baltic States. However, the global impact is more mitigated; while RT has garnered a huge international audience, Russia's image has deteriorated substantially in many countries since the start of the Ukraine crisis. At the same time, existing wide-reaching European media outlets are under pressure, either due to financial cuts or – in the case of EU-subsidised Euronews – links to pro-Russian business interests. Proposals to counter Russian disinformation include increased funding for existing western media broadcasting in Russian, like the BBC World Service, or the creation of new ones, such as a jointly operated Russian-language TV channel offering not only news but also entertainment in order to compete with pro-Kremlin media. Some of these proposals are being discussed at EU level, with the aim being for the European Council to adopt an action plan on strategic communication in June