The European Union has taken a significant step in addressing Russia’s information war against Ukraine by imposing sanctions on a Kremlin-controlled disinformation network known as Recent Reliable News (RRN). The operation, established shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, aimed to undermine Western support for Ukraine by disseminating propaganda through fake social media accounts and websites posing as EU government agencies and local media outlets. The EU’s sanctions target seven Russian individuals and five entities, including the InfoRos news agency and the Institute of the Russian Diaspora, all of which were involved in the disinformation campaign.
The Russian government and its intelligence services were found to be involved in the RNN operation, as confirmed by the European Council. Prior to the EU’s actions, other countries such as the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia had already exposed parts of the RNN network and implemented their own sanctions.
For instance, Australia and the U.S. had previously imposed sanctions on InfoRos, a news agency run by the Russian foreign military intelligence agency (GRU), which managed over 270 fake news sites.
In response to Russia’s disinformation networks, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Josep Borrell, emphasized the importance of sending a clear signal to those engaged in information manipulation and interference. The EU has been actively developing new tools and approaches to combat foreign information manipulation and interference (FIMI), focusing on analyzing threat actors’ behavior beyond just content and working on a common framework to monitor, analyze, and respond to FIMI operations.
This policy approach played a crucial role in enabling the EU to impose sanctions on Russia’s disinformation activities.As the EU proceeds with the enforcement of the sanctions, it underscores its resolve to prevent, deter, and respond effectively to such threats using innovative strategies and instruments.
The move not only holds the targeted individuals and organizations accountable but also demonstrates the EU’s commitment to safeguarding democratic values and countering malicious disinformation campaigns that aim to destabilize nations and sow discord among Western countries.