The Heritage Foundations Daily Signal on March 26, 2015, reported in a contribution by Helle C. Dale, the foundation specialist on Russian disinformation and propaganda, that the ministers from the European Union countries have decided to work strategically to counter Russian’s propaganda offensive in Ukraine and other former Soviet states. EU countries intend to collaborate on broadcasting to give citizens in the target countries, e.g. the Baltics, an alternative to the relentless bombardment of Russian media, which produces a highly distorted version of the news aimed at Russian speakers. Excerpts below:

The ministers tasked foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini with creating a strategic plan for an integrated media campaign by June 2015. Also, the European Endowment for Democracy, funded by the EU, is to present proposals at a summit in Riga, Latvia on May 21-22, 2015. This is to be attended by representatives from Ukraine and other neighbors of Russia.

The United States government has taken similar steps…In October 2014, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, in collaboration with Voice of America, launched a news program aimed at countries bordering Russia. The 30-minute long, Russian language “Nastoyashchee Vremya,” or “Current Time,” is carried by television channels and Internet portals in Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia.

The aggressiveness of Russia’s propaganda offensive has alarmed politicians in the West,..Ignoring evidence of the Kremlin’s emerging propaganda strategy, state-funded international broadcasters both in the United States and Europe previously all but eliminated radio broadcasting in Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian and other critical languages. The motives were budget cuts and a focus on new media. They were nonetheless short-sighted from a strategic point of view.

Accordingly, the U.S. broadcasters, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the British BBC, the German Deutche Welle, etc., have not been able to counter the avalanche of well-funded broadcasting from Russia. The global television network Russia Today and the propaganda website Russia Direct are closely supervised and nurtured by the Kremlin.

Comment: Since the publication of this report the House Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States Congress has held a hearing on the Russian information war and how to counter it (April 15, 2015). Congressman Ed Royce of California, the committee chairman, will soon introduce bipartisan legislation on improving US broadcasting to Russia. The bill would charge one U.S. broadcasting organization (VOA) with reporting U.S. policy and other global news, and another, including RFE/RL and similar services, to act as the free press in repressive societies like Russia. Each organization will have its own CEO and its own board, with clear accountability. This blog will report on developments in the field both in the United States and the EU.

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