Russian interference in America’s presidential election merits measured retaliation. But the West can withstand such “active measures”, The Economist notes:
Russia does not pretend to offer the world an attractive ideology or vision. Instead its propaganda aims to discredit and erode universal liberal values by nurturing the idea that the West is just as corrupt as Russia, and that its political system is just as rigged. It wants to create a divided West that has lost faith in its ability to shape the world. In response, the West should be united and firm.
The Czech government has accused Russia of conducting a propaganda war on its soil and is setting up a unit to counter what it says are networks of pro-Moscow puppet groups, The Guardian adds:
“We want to get into every smartphone” to counter Russian disinformation, said Milan Chovanec, the Czech interior minister. The Czech counter-intelligence service said in September that Russia was conducting “an information war” in the Czech Republic, putting in place propaganda agents to destabilise the country.
Italy has shielded Russia and Syria from a threat of new sanctions, amid warnings by some leaders that Russia was trying to “weaken” the European Union.
“Leaders emphasized all sorts of concerns, from [Russia’s] airspace violations, to its disinformation campaigns, cyberattacks, its interference in the electoral processes of the EU and beyond, hybrid tools in the Western Balkans, and developments in the MH17 investigation,” EU Council head Donald Tusk said.
Russian disinformation takes its roots in the Soviet dezinformatsiya, which consisted of operations aiming at influencing the opinion-making process in the West through different fakes and forgeries. Luc Maffre writes for New Eastern Europe:
Comparing Soviet and contemporary Russian disinformation is not fully irrelevant, although each of them serves a different purpose. In the USSR the ultimate goal of disinformation was to spread the same hegemonic ideology in every part of the globe. Today, the new Russian disinformation, a bit more volatile and scattered, does not seek to change our ideology, but with its high intensity is based upon what we might call a realpolitik…..Chris Walker, the executive director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy, coined the expression Democracy Containment Doctrine. It means that authoritarian regimes are working with each other, to fight against Western democracies.