Russia's disinformation on Ukraine and the EU's response

17-11-2015

Manipulation of information is central to the Ukraine crisis, with some observers even referring to an 'information war'. Coverage in Russia's largely state-controlled domestic media bears the hallmarks of a sophisticated disinformation campaign. 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. Proposals to counter Russian disinformation include increased funding for existing Western media broadcasting in Russian, such as the BBC World Service, and 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. For its part, the EU has set up a strategic communication task force to develop a response; one of the first initiatives of the new team is a weekly review exposing Russian disinformation. This briefing updates an earlier edition of May 2015.

Manipulation of information is central to the Ukraine crisis, with some observers even referring to an 'information war'. Coverage in Russia's largely state-controlled domestic media bears the hallmarks of a sophisticated disinformation campaign. 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. Proposals to counter Russian disinformation include increased funding for existing Western media broadcasting in Russian, such as the BBC World Service, and 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. For its part, the EU has set up a strategic communication task force to develop a response; one of the first initiatives of the new team is a weekly review exposing Russian disinformation. This briefing updates an earlier edition of May 2015.