In February, Russia’s Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu informed Duma members that inside the armed forces there had been formed subunits specialised on information operations. He added that the new units are stronger and more capable than their predecessors. Although the existence of these units was previously known, it is noteworthy that Russia’s Ministry of Defence has now officially admitted it. However, any detailed information about this units’ size has not been revealed. According to Gerasimov doctrine, units specialised on information operations implemented in peace time and their activity is inextricably intertwined with the Kremlin propaganda machine of other disciplines.
Propastop decided to review how have European countries reacted towards the increase of Russian information warfare capabilities.
The first thing worth mentioning is NATO’s Strategic Communication Centre of Excellence that resides in Latvia, Riga. Its members are Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Finland, Poland, United Kingdom, United States and Sweden. Czech and France are planning to join soon. The centre aims to help develop and standardise communication capabilities of NATO member states. It also analyses hostile influence activities and develops countermeasures.
The European Union has created East StratCom Task Force. In the year 2016, it gained momentum, having shed light on many subversive propaganda activities against the European Union. It operates a blog euvsdisinfo.eu and is active in social media.
Swedish Ministry of Defence created a subunit under Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, which is a reaction to information-warfare (Myndigheten samhällsskydd och för beredskap, MSB). It aims to analyse and counter influence activities that are targeted against Sweden.
Germany has created a unit under Ministry of Interior, to deal with Russian disinformation. For the last year, the country was systematically struggling with the Russian cybercrime and disinformation attacks, which resulted in the creation of a unit under the Ministry of Interior.
Czechs have also had problems with Russian influence activities. This has taken place in the virtual environment, media and also on streets. These incidents have forced Czech government to form a countering unit under Ministry of Interior.
Finland has established a so-called strike team, where various specialists from all the ministries are involved. Head of this team is governments’ communication manager Markku Mantila. According to the media, this group is changing and coordinating information. They are not actively involved in influence activities analysis or conducting any countermeasures.
Estonian Defence Forces are actively involved in NATO Strategic Communication COE activities. Under Estonian Defence League, for countering cyber threats, there was created a Cyber Defence League. Psychological defence has been adapted to the defence forces development plan.
Various influence activities are carefully attended by Estonian Internal Security Service and Estonian Information Board. Both of these institutions publish annual reviews. At the moment no one at the government office is actively speaking about this topic. Propastop believes that it is time to take an example from forenamed European countries and change this situation on an administrative level. It is important to let the public know that anti-Estonian information attacks are being dealt with.
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