Disinfo: The EU confirms there was no foreign disinformation campaign in the European elections

Summary

The European Union confirmed in the Progress Report on the Action Plan against Disinformation that no foreign disinformation campaign to influence the European elections was detected.

Disproof

This claim is a distortion of the actual report, taking the following sentence out of context: "Available evidence has not allowed us to identify a distinct cross-border disinformation campaign from external sources specifically targeting the European elections”. The next sentence provides further clarification: "However, the evidence collected revealed a continued and sustained disinformation activity by Russian sources aiming to suppress turnout and influence voter preferences”. It also says that the number of disinformation cases attributed to Russian sources and documented by the East Strategic Communication Task Force since January 2019 doubled as compared to the same period a year ago: 998 versus 434.

Asked if the report doesn’t contradict itself, Security Commissioner Julian King said that disinformation aimed at dividing Europeans was "increasingly locally focused", which the report explains as follows: "Instead of conducting large-scale operations on digital platforms, these actors, in particular linked to Russian sources, now appeared to be opting for smaller-scale, localised operations that are harder to detect and expose."

This claim follows a recurring disinformation narrative aiming to portray Russia as innocent and falsely accused of interference in other countries’ affairs. See other examples here, here and here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 156
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 14/06/2019
  • Language/target audience: Spanish, Castilian
  • Keywords: EU elections 2019, European Commission, election meddling, EU, Manipulated elections/referendum, Elections, Europe
  • Outlet: Sputnik Spanish
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EU’s own report clears Moscow of election meddling charges

In the face of its established tendency to accuse Moscow of meddling in elections, the EU has itself acknowledged that such charges are lacking in substance.

In a recent report, the European Commission admitted there is insufficient evidence to identify a “distinct cross-border disinformation campaign” in the run-up to the 2019 European Parliament elections. This, however, did not stop the Commission from alleging that unspecified “Russian sources” had attempted to influence their outcome.

This claim fits into the three-year campaign of baseless interference allegations which the US, France, the UK, Spain, and Germany have levied against Russia.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative stating that all charges of election meddling, however well-grounded in the facts, are actually Russophobic plots used by Western governments to shift the focus away from domestic problems.

The report in question does not absolve Russia of interference charges. The statement that "available evidence has not allowed to identify a distinct cross-border disinformation campaign" is immediately followed by this one: "However, the evidence collected revealed a continued and sustained disinformation activity by Russian sources aiming to suppress turnout and influence voter preferences" (p. 3, emphasis added).

No evidence of Russian meddling in Western elections

Several European states, namely Spain, Germany, and the UK, have accused Russia of meddling in their domestic elections, thereby following the US. However, none of these countries have managed to provide any credible evidence in support of these allegations.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative denying any Russian interference in Western elections and other democratic processes.

Russia's attempts to sway foreign elections have been overwhelmingly documented by government agencies, journalistic investigations, and think tanks. See the original disproof here; see here for our database of resources pertaining to Russian interference in Western elections; and see here for our debunk of the "no-credible-evidence" trope as applied to the 2016 US presidential election.

Russia respects the Minsk Agreements, Ukraine does not

Russia did what it could to push the so-called separatists of Donbas to respect the Minsk agreements and indeed, they respected them. It was the Ukrainians who were reluctant [to respect the Minsk agreements] because they were asked to change the constitution. The Minsk agreements mention the change of constitution. Russia will certainly take further steps if Ukraine commits to respect the Minsk agreements that were signed in 2015.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Minsk agreements, portraying Ukraine as a primary violator of the cease-fire.

In March 2015, the European Council linked the duration of EU sanctions to Russia to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements, acknowledging Russia's responsibility to uphold the Agreements.