As transatlantic experts focusing on security and Russia, we recognize the confusion among policymakers who have genuine interest in Euroatlantic security after the presidential election in the United States.
The Russian Federation and its proxies use an extensive toolkit to manipulate sovereign policy and decision-making in various democratic countries, both in Western and Eastern Europe. We are convinced that to challenge this tendency, a strong Euro-Atlantic cooperation is needed. A geopolitical vacuum in the region would only encourage Russian players to interfere more actively. And while Russia is calling for a friendship with the West, they are treating the West as an enemy: an easy target for information warfare and active measures.
We aim to build on the US initiative (Portman-Murphy Counter-Propaganda Bill) and to enhance the synergy with the European effort.
Based on the experience of hostile Russian influence in Europe, we give suggestions where the US foreign and defense policy interest and resources should be targeted in order to support and enhance the European response.
We would suggest focusing on the following practical steps:
1 ) Create a program which will make use of existing European knowledge (mainly in think-tanks) on how democratic states can form their policy responses to massive hostile disinformation.
2 ) Support scholarships for fact-checkers, investigative journalists and researchers focusing on exposing and scrutinizing hostile influence operations.
3 ) Support non-governmental watchdog organizations which promote an agenda of digital and media literacy, critical thinking and countering disinformation and conspiracy theories, with a special focus on education.
We think that the exchange of ideas and experience between the Unites States and its European allies is crucial to be able to challenge this threat. For example, strategies to win an information war or to counter hostile Russian influence have already been drafted. To downplay the importance of Europe by the US foreign policy would only exacerbate the security challenges, and would go against the vested security policy interests of the Unites States.
Coordinator of this Call:
Jakub Janda, Deputy Director of the European Values Think-Tank, firstname.lastname@example.org
Signatories (in alphabetical order):
Jessikka Aro, Investigative journalist of the Finnish Broadcasting Company
Angelos Chryssogelos, King’s College London
Yevhen Fedchenko, Director, Mohyla School of Journalism, Co-founder of StopFake.org
Roland Freudenstein, Policy Director, Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies
Mark Galeotti, Senior Researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague
Jeffrey Gedmin, Senior Fellow, Institute for Strategic Dialogue, former President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former President of Estonia (2006-2016)
Péter Krekó, Senior Affiliate, Political Capital Institute
Daniel Milo, Head of Strategic Communication initiative at GLOBSEC Policy Institute
Wojciech Przybylski, editor in chief, Visegrad insight
Inga Springe, co-founder of the Baltic Center for Investigative Journalism Re:Baltica; investigative journalist
Andreas Umland, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation, Kyiv