Between Hype and Hysteria

Is the EU facing an “attack” through fake news? Is Russia’s president Putin even planning to manipulate the elections in France and Germany? There are new warnings coming from the US – much of it borders on hysteria.

It was on all of the official (and unofficial) channels, the US secret service’s report on the “fake news”. Putin personally ordered an intervention into the US election, so it says.

Proof of these accusations was not presented. We can therefore not be sure whether these warnings by the generally unreliable US services were not just “fake news” as well.

It also remains unclear why the FBI disrupted the campaign of candidate Clinton just days before the election – an act that probably caused more harm to her chances of success than all of the “fake news” made in Russia.

However, this does not hinder the media and politicians in exaggerating the US affair and immediately transferring it onto the whole world – including Europe.

The US services deliver the fitting material themselves – quote from their report:

We assess Moscow will apply lessons learned from its campaign aimed at the US presidential election to future influence efforts in the United States and worldwide, including against US allies and their election processes. We assess the Russian intelligence services would have seen their election influence campaign as at least a qualified success because of their perceived ability to impact public discussion.

Does this mean that a Russian “attack” on the elections in France and Germany is imminent, as even the ARD and ZDF, two of Germany’s biggest TV stations, reported? Or are these accusations unfounded, is Putin hyped unjustly?

That is hard to say. After all, the Americans are not presenting any proofs. The fact is that the EU has been investigating Russia’s propaganda for a year, a special defense unit has been established in the EEAS.

This unit is reporting about alleged false statements from the Ukraine and from Syria. But there hasn’t been any confirmation of massive “fake news” attacks on the elections in Europe so far.

There are also no proofs to be found in the European Parliament, which takes warnings from Washington extremely seriously. The representatives have in fact already approved a plan of action.

In this, they are calling for “establishing coordinated mechanisms for a strategic communication to support the attribution and the fight against disinformation and propaganda”.

But the resolution is not only targeting Russian propaganda, but also the recruitment campaigns of “Islamic State” – a strange, illicit mixing. That does not mean that Putin is to be treated naively.

Of course he is trying to influence Europe, just like the US services. And naturally, he is also supporting EU opponents.

However, there is not even any need for him to intervene in the French election – the two most successful candidates, Fillion and Le Pen, are already considered to be pro-Russian and critical of the EU.

And what about the election for the Bundestag? Is it really in Putin’s interest to bring down Merkel? Not likely. Because the German-Russian relationships are, in spite of the sanctions, still good.

The warnings about an imminent “attack” on Germany and the EU are therefore to be treated with caution. So far, they range somewhere between hype and hysteria.

The is the English version of the original Blogpost “Fake news hysteria”. More english posts can be found here

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