Well-known German journalist Christopher Nehring, in an interview with The Geopost, spoke about Russian disinformation and its intentions.
Nehring said Russia has spent a lot of money building Kremlin-sponsored propaganda networks and media.
“Russia has put a lot of efforts and money into building up networks of propaganda and disinformation and Kremlin-sponsored media.” he told The Geopost.
Below you can find the interview with Christopher Nehring:
Russian influence in the Balkans is a topic that is constantly addressed by policy experts. How present do you think this influence is and who enables Russia to be present in this region?
I think Russia is very present in Southeastern Europe. It’s present all over Europe for that matter and it has spent years, decades, to build up the mechanism and instruments we can now see Russia using during the war in Ukraine for spreading propaganda and disinformation.
Kremlin-funded disinformation poses a threat to truth-telling about important events. How widespread do you think this disinformation is in Europe? Does Kremlin achieve its purpose?
Russia has put a lot of efforts and money into building up networks of propaganda and disinformation and Kremlin-sponsored media. How present they are, differs from country to country. In some countries they are extremely present because local media has adopted content of Sputnik or Russia Today. In some other countries, for example in Serbia some of the bigger radio stations or other printed media have agreement with Russia Today and Sputnik and they just adapt content produced by them. In other countries, for example in Germany, Russia Today or Sputnik, the leaders of what they call alternative media (that is basically media that opposes everything the other mainstream media and governments say and what we can witness there is that they have limited outreach. They stay within their own eco chambers and they reach an audience but they don’t reach the majority of the society. Yet, one particular danger featured about that is that they are always there trying to provide some alternative interpretatiton of events. And the constant stream of that sort of disinformation, propaganda and false information is posing a constant threat and pressure toward quality media, towards journalism, towards politics.
In addition to the atrocities committed by Russia in Ukraine, this war is presented by the Russian propaganda as a “special military operation.” How much do you think Russian disinformation affects the opinion of Russian citizens about the war in Ukraine? In your opinion, does this propaganda have a wider impact?
I’d say in Russia the way the Kremlin and Russian state media presents the war does have a wider effect especially since they shut down all non-government media and foreign broadcasting stations so they try to establish they version as the only version. What we can also witness from inside Russia is that more and more people try to circumvent of foreign media stations, for example as you may know I work as a journalist for the German news broadcast Deutsche Welle and what we could see there was an increase in the Russian language programme, especially online, by people using VPN store browsers to circumvent the Russian censorship of these media. So it also spans on an increase which of course is only true for the younger part of the population. On the other hand, concerning the Russian propaganda version of the events in Ukraine and the rule in Western Europe or outside of Russia. This only has a limited outreach mainly, perhaps, amongst Russians living abroad. The official Russian state television or other state media is not baking in countries other than Russia so I’d say that the official Russian media have a very limited outreach in countries other than Russia.
How do you see the end of the war in Ukraine?
This is the million dollar question and I think there are two sides of it. The first is the military end which is very hard to predict. I would say, the most likely event judging by what have happened so far I think the most likely outcome is that the conflict during some time will be frozen and there will be sort of a temporary agreement and let’s say a new ‘Cold War’ (if you think of the Berlin scenario after World War 2 where the was a wall built dividing not only one country but the entire continent). This is an event I can imagine is pretty likely to happen somewhere in the near future. Parts of Ukraine will remain occupied for a longer time. Every other possible outcome is first of all less likely and second of all depends on events that are hard to foresee. For example, what happens inside the Kremlin, whether they will rise a serious opposition towards Vladimir Putin or not. It also depends on the military events which is how successful Ukraine can fight this war. So, in most likely events the conflict will be frozen somewhere in the end of this year or next year but it will remain the new ‘Cold War’ in Europe for the next decades.