Russian cyberattacks: These three Europeans are declaring war on them

Against cyber attacks
France uncovers Russian disinformation network – and declares war on it alongside Germany and Poland

France’s Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne (lr) with counterpart Annalena Baerbock and counterpart Radoslaw Sikorski

© Sarah Meyssonnier / RTR POOL / AP / DPA

Germany, France and Poland are equally affected by Russian troll campaigns and cyber attacks. Together, the three countries are now declaring war on Moscow.

According to diplomatic sources, a “structured and coordinated network of Russian propaganda” has been uncovered in France. This was aimed at European countries and the USA and was intended to legitimize the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, it was said on Monday. The network’s content could potentially reflect “core interests” affect France.

The network consists of at least 193 websites, said the Viginum authority, which takes action against digital interference from abroad, in a report. They did not produce their own content. Instead, they would re-distribute mass content mainly from accounts of Russian and pro-Russian actors on online networks, Russian news agencies and official websites of local institutions or actors.

There are indications that there are so-called sleeper operations, i.e. instruments that can be activated at any time, especially during an election. “This is intended to cause confusion among citizens. (…) With the aim of creating polarization that will politically destabilize our democracies,” emphasized Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné.

Germany, France and Poland now want to take action together. A common warning mechanism had been agreed between the three countries against Russian troll attacks, said French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné on Monday in La Celle-Saint-Cloud near Paris after a meeting with Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and his Polish colleague Radoslaw Sikorski. The three countries had fallen victim to the same Russian destabilization strategy and wanted to defend themselves together. In particular, the European elections and the Olympic Games in Paris are possible next targets of such attacks.

Weimar Triangle Meeting: Strengthening Europe’s Defense

“Russia is trying to destroy European unity,” said Séjourné after the meeting of the so-called Weimar Triangle. Almost 200 fake news sites were discovered. These instruments of disinformation should be disclosed transparently in the future. “We are ready to act to defend our democracy.”

The Weimar Triangle was founded in 1991 as a discussion format by the then foreign ministers of the three countries in Weimar. One goal of Monday’s meeting was also to boost foreign policy cooperation between France and Germany with the new pro-European government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

The three-way meeting also focused on strengthening the defense and security architecture in Europe, also in view of a possible election victory for Donald Trump in the USA. Not only do 27 different national systems in the EU need to be better interlinked, said Baerbock. In the future, joint procurement and joint projects in defense must be initiated and operational capabilities must be pooled more closely than before, she added against the background of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

Partners reaffirm commitments to Ukraine

“We are meeting at a dramatic moment, because we have war again in Europe, we again have a dictator who has given himself the right to decide who can be a people and who cannot,” said Poland’s Foreign Minister Sikorski. Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to use lies and demagoguery to subjugate Ukraine and destroy the EU and NATO. “We cannot allow Putin to win this war,” Sikorski said. “We must fulfill our obligations to Ukraine.”

“If Putin believes that our strength is dwindling and our support is waning, he is completely mistaken,” emphasized Baerbock. The Europeans have been standing by Ukraine for two years and will continue to do so for as long as necessary. The question of how support for Ukraine can become even more effective also depends on how closely France, Poland and Germany act together militarily in the next few months and, if necessary, in the next few years.


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