France urges EU to act against Russian disinformation

French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne
French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne

France is set to propose sanctions at the EU level against Russian entities responsible for spreading disinformation,  French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said on April 2.

“I will propose putting forward a sanctions regime against those who support a regime of disinformation,” he said at a press conference in Paris with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. "Russia resorts ... to lies and manipulation of our public opinions, in particular by financing interference, promoting false media, and accusing Ukraine."

Sejourne stopped short of providing detailed specifics about the proposal.

On Feb. 12, The Economist reported on a vast Russian disinformation campaign in Europe uncovered by French authorities. Viginum, the French foreign-disinformation watchdog, announced it had detected preparations for a large disinformation campaign in France, Germany, Poland and other European countries, tied in part to the second anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the elections to the European Parliament in June.

On March 28, French authorities shut down a fake recruitment website that claimed to be seeking volunteers to fight in Ukraine. The site had been created by malicious actors to spread a disinformation campaign, the country’s Defense Ministry said.

On March 29, the Financial Times reported on growing fears in Europe of Russian interference in the run-up to the European Parliament (EP) elections in June.

European Parliament President Roberta Mecola previously alerted EU leaders about the risks posed by such disinformation campaigns. "There's a concerted effort to undermine the European project with disinformation and propaganda from hostile entities," she noted, emphasizing the need for vigilance and preparedness against these threats.

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