for Countering Russia’s Pressure on Europe Aimed at Rolling Back Sanctions
The community of Ukrainian nonprofits, think tanks, independent experts, and media outlets finds unacceptable the attempts of certain political circles in Europe, which have been playing up to Russia, to change approaches towards the aggressor state and to ease Russia sanctions.
We note that the sanctions were imposed on Russia as a result of gross violations of international law and cannot be lifted until the Kremlin ceases its aggression in eastern Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.
We state that Russia has been trying to hinder Ukraine’s capacities to act as an independent actor, aiming to draw the country back into the sphere of own unconditional influence. Along with political, economic and military leverage, Russia is actively applying information influence to boost hybrid pressure on Ukraine.
Russia’s considerable efforts in the West are aimed at resolving the conflict in Donbas on terms that are favorable to Moscow, ensuring that the Crimea occupation is internationally recognized, as well as imposing non-aligned status on Ukraine and putting a halt to the country’s European integration process.
To this end, Moscow applies various measures of influence on:
- politicians – to introduce certain ideas into a public discourse;
- controlled or loyal media – to spin narratives favorable to the Kremlin;
- think tanks – to shape public opinion that fits Russia’s objectives on the issue of sanctions, the future of Donbas and Crimea; and
- diplomatic circles – to support a positive tone of discussion on the need to change the perception of Russia by individual EU Member States and the European Union as a whole.
The six years of hybrid confrontation have forced Russia to adapt tactics, although its strategy toward destabilizing the European Union remains unwavering. Discrediting Ukraine and undermining Euro-Atlantic solidarity remain important components of Russia’s efforts. The Kremlin employs a variety of mechanisms, backed by powerful propaganda weapons like RT and Sputnik.
We would like to emphasize that non-governmental organizations and think tanks across the EU, in the U.S. and Canada play an important role in the scheme Russia has designed. The Kremlin skillfully exploits the peculiarities of socio-political discourse dominating Western democracies.
That’s why Russia has been allocating significant financial and organizational resources to justify the positions voiced by loyal political forces and individual politicians who advocate the need for dialogue with the Kremlin, gradual easing of sanctions, and bringing the aggressor back to the negotiating table. Through the use of such allies, by exploiting the European principles of respect of pluralism, Moscow attempts to conceal the real origins of its narratives.
In order to prevent the successful implementation of Russia’s scenario, we consider it necessary to unite around the following goals:
- Creating an alternative bulk of expert material and disseminating it by all tools available, ultimately to have it converted into (implemented in) international support;
- Reducing Russia’s resource potential in exploiting European think tanks aimed at manipulating European values in the media space.
- Minimizing Russia’s hybrid influence in the expert and media circles across the EU, in the U.S., and Canada
We propose to focus on the following topics that draw interest in Ukraine, Europe, and across the Atlantic:
- Premises and consequences of Russia’s occupation of Crimea, its impact on the security of the Euro-Atlantic region, and shaping a strategy toward the seized peninsula’s reintegration;
- Russia’s aggression in Donbas, the Minsk agreements, features of their implementation, and ways to reintegrate the war-torn Donbas;
- MH17 downing as Russia’s war crime; creating a mechanism of bringing perpetrators to responsibility;
- Russian propaganda narratives in Ukraine, the EU, the U.S., and Canada, its channels and mechanisms; and
- Foreign relations in the post-bipolar world: challenges and trends.
The Strategy is authored by:
Institute of World Policy, represented by Yevhen MAHDA
European Expert Association, represented by Maria AVDEEVA
Center for Defense Reforms, represented by Oleksandr DANYLYUK
Institute for Postinformation Society, represented by Dmytro ZOLOTUKHIN