Foreign and Domestic Enemies

BERLIN | | russische-foederation

BERLIN (Own report) - Nebulous warnings from anonymous intelligence officials are sustaining Brussels and Berlin's campaign against alleged Russian interference in the European election campaign. German flagship media are quoting intelligence officials saying that "efforts" are being made "to support Russia-friendly or EU-critical parties." Presenting no evidence, they claim instead that, in this case, Russian activities are "less visible" than in other cases. The EU has increased its staff and means for its "EU East Stratcom Taskforce," claiming to reveal "pro-Kremlin" propaganda, while openly making propaganda for the European Union. With an annual budget of five million euros, the Taskforce is propagating fake news. To such allegations about Russia's "hybrid war, " advanced, for example, by a US specialist on Russia in an article on the so-called "Gerasimov doctrine," German military officials respond "they are not doing anything different from us." Playing on anti-Russian sentiment, Berlin is increasingly attacking not only the foreign enemy, but also the domestic opposition - as alleged puppets of Moscow.

Propaganda

Already last year, the EU Commission began mobilizing against an alleged Russian interference in the European elections. In December 2018, the EU's Commissioner for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip presented the Commission's "action plan" to counter Russian "pro-Kremlin propaganda." One of the first steps was setting up a "rapid alert system" to quickly reveal disinformation campaigns and to strengthen the EU propaganda unit "EU East Stratcom Taskforce." Its budget was raised from €1.9 million in 2018 to €5 million this year, and the staff will be increased from 14 to 25 (in 2019) and to 50 (in 2020).[1] On the one hand, to the east of the EU, the taskforce should advocate positive reporting about the Union (german-foreign-policy.com reported [2]), while, on the other, reveal actual or alleged fake news about the EU and the West. For its part, the EU East Stratcom Taskforce is resorting to fake or at least tendentious allegations.

Fake News

A propaganda piece, published by the EU's East Stratcom Taskforce on the 70th anniversary of NATO's founding on April 4, 1949, can serve as a current example.[3] It also deals with the Russian media's assessment that, during the 1990 upheavals, the West promised not to extend NATO further East. This has been scholarly proven, beyond a doubt.[4] The EU's taskforce, however, claims "no such promise was ever given." The text also refers to the assessment that "Georgia's Anaklia seaport project is a NATO and US effort to regain a foothold in the Black Sea region." The fact that the seaport offers western - and above all US American - armed forces opportunities to gain influence, is openly discussed in western military circles.[5] However, anyone expressing criticism is, according to the East Stratcom Taskforce, guilty of "undermining Georgia" and of anti-EU propaganda. Boasting about its work being praised by numerous flagship media in the EU countries, the taskforce - financed with millions in tax money - systematically excludes unwanted criticism.

No Proof

Intelligence services have also gotten involved in the campaign around alleged Russian manipulation of the EU's elections. Currently, flagship media organs in Germany are propagating that anonymous "high-ranking intelligence officials," are saying, there are "indications" of Russian "efforts ... to support pro-Russian or EU-critical parties." This is being carried out "over social networks or media, such as the multi-lingual RT news channel."[6] There is no mention of evidence. Reference to the contents is limited to the remark that "the significance of the European Parliament" is "being called into question." However, criticism of the European Parliament's limited powers has always been a subject in debates on the EU. In the absence of any evidence of Russian interference, anonymous intelligence officials allege that the "Russian activities" are, "so far, less visible" than in other cases. "Who exactly is behind the Russian campaign to manipulate the elections" is "difficult to discern." "In principle," it must be assumed that "Moscow's political leadership sets strategic objectives" which subsequently "are carried out rather independently and without much coordination by the various services or other actors." There is absolutely no evidence also for this allegation.

The "Gerasimov Doctrine"

The story of the "Gerasimov Doctrine" is an example of where the general suspicion against Russia and the other unproven accusations can lead. This name was coined back in July 2014, by Mark Galeotti, a Russia specialist in the USA. Galeotti used this name to sum up a strategy, which he claimed to have taken from a speech held by Russia's Chief of the General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, at the end of January 2013. In his speech he had developed the idea that in face of an adversary with "greater military, political and economic power," one must rely on "new tactics" that avoid "direct and open confrontation" – in other words, "hybrid warfare."[7] Among the tactics are all kinds of measures to indirectly influence, not least of all, the use of social media and public opinion of the adversary. Since then, the "Gerasimov Doctrine" has been repeatedly used as proof of an alleged long-planned Russian aggression, particularly by Germany's flagship media organs (including the FAZ, Die Welt, Die Zeit) and in books by such authors as the renowned Russia specialist Boris Reitschuster. In reference to the alleged detailed description of "Putin's hybrid attacks" of the "Gerasimov Doctrine," Reitschuster said "It's all there, black on white."[8]

A Total Fiction

In fact, in his speech, (which can be read in a specialized Russian periodical [9]) Gerasimov had not laid down a doctrine of his own, but rather merely described the means of warfare used by the United States in Iraq and the subversive methods of exercising influence used by the West during the "color revolution" uprisings in the first decade of the millenium and the upheavals in the Arab world at the beginning of 2011, for example in Libya and Syria. Gerasimov had described the "political, economic, informational, humanitarian and other non-military measures" of NATO countries – and how they "in connection with protest potentials of the populations" in foreign countries can provoke from violent unrests to civil wars. Therefore, there was no such thing as a "Gerasimov Doctrine," only an analytical description of "hybrid warfare" used by western powers. Mocked in professional circles for his PR creation, Galeotti has, in the meantime, publicly dissociated himself from it ("I'm Sorry for Creating the 'Gerasimov Doctrine'"[10]), which does nothing to change the fact that, this fiction is still being used against Russia today.

"Not Anything Different from Us"

In internal debates, members of the military are not excited over Russia's so-called hybrid war. "[They] are not doing ... anything different from us," a member of the Bundeswehr's leadership academy was quoted saying.[11] A historian and editor of a foreign and military policy magazine has reaffirmed that what Moscow is currently being suspected of doing, is in reality, very similar to the recommendations US presidential advisor George Kennan made in 1948 as "Political Warfare" in the cold war.[12]

"Putin's Helper"

Of course, this does not change the fact that, in practice, the anti-Russian propaganda is being used not only against Russia, but also, to a growing degree to marginalize domestic oppositional opinions. Since 2014, those opposing the confrontational policy toward Russia are labeled "Putin's helpers." Identified with the foreign enemy, they are attacked accordingly. For example, at this year's Munich Security Conference in February, Chancellor Angela Merkel had even denounced the pupil demonstrations in defense of the climate, as an example of "Russia's hybrid warfare." (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[13]) Anyone who stands in opposition to Berlin's government policy can expect to be considered a partisan of the foreign enemy (a "domestic enemy") and fought accordingly.

 

[1] Maxim Shemetov: Wie sich die EU gegen Fake News wappnet. tagesspiegel.de 08.12.2018.

[2] See also Media Cold War.

[3] NATO Special: Global Dictatorship and Unleashing All the Wars of the Last 25 Years. euvsdisinfo.eu 11.04.2019.

[4] Vgl. etwa: Mary Elise Sarotte: A Broken Promise? What the West Really Told Moscow About NATO Expansion. In: Foreign Affairs Vol. 93,5. September/October 2014. S. 90-97.

[5] Future of NATO: What Georgia joining means for the Western military alliance. army-technology.com 04.04.2019.

[6] Vgl. u.a.: Russland ändert Taktik bei Wahlbeeinflussung. spiegel.de 13.04.2019. Geheimdienste sehen Taktikwechsel bei russischer Wahlbeeinflussung. tagesspiegel.de 13.04.2019.

[7] Mark Galeotti: The "Gerasimov Doctrine" and Russian Non-Linear War. Inmoscowsshadows.wordpress.com 06.07.2014.

[8] Boris Reitschuster: Prinzip Wegsehen. reitschuster.de 07.02.2017.

[9] Woenno-Promyschlennyi Kur'er vom 27.02.2013. Englischsprachige Fassung: Valery Gerasimov: The Value of Science Is in the Foresight. New Challenges Demand Rethinking the Forms and Methods of Carrying out Combat Operations. In: Military Review January/February 2016. S. 23-29.

[10] Mark Galeotti: I'm sorry for Creating the "Gerasimov Doctrine". foreignpolicy.com 05.03.2018.

[11] Hans-Arthur Marsiske: Hybride Kriegführung: Die digitale Rüstungsspirale ist bereits im Gang. heise.de 12.12.2018.

[12] Veranstaltungsbericht "Hybrid Warfare". sicherheitspolitik.de 01.04.2019.

[13] See also Program Accompanying Global Policy.