Russia and China have resorted to different weapons in their attempt to destabilize the West
Being a relatively new phenomenon, experts in this field lack complete information on the hybrid threats currently facing Europe or the US. “We do not know everything,” he acknowledges. Nicolas de Pedro, researcher linked to the British Institute for Statecraft. But they have detected in recent years numerous cases of malicious influence in elections, protests, campaigns and even business leaderships. Here are four classic examples, agreed among the experts.
The yellow vests
Nade doubts that the protests that shook France in the fall of 2018 were an organic movement born of genuine discontent on the part of the local population with the government of Emmanuel Macron. However, it is proven that the Russian media took advantage of the occasion to “amplify the protest” with the aim of destabilizing France, one of the most important states. of the European Union, says De Pedro. And what is more serious: it is known that among the protesters “there were veterans of the war in eastern Ukraine who had fought on the side of the pro-Russian militias and who were being coordinated by the Russian intelligence services, becoming a problem much more relevant to the authorities, “he recalls. According to this expert, it is a classic case of “instrumentalization of a domestic event or protest against a geopolitical adversary.”
A former German chancellor in the pay of the Russian state
The most convincing example of how a state manages to co-opt influential politicians and businessmen from a geopolitical rival is personified in Gerhard Schroder, a personal friend of Vladimir Putin and chairman of the shareholders’ meeting of Nord Stream 2, the gas pipeline that already connects Russia with Germany without going through Ukraine. “Here we have a whole political leader, a former Chancellor in the salary of Gazprom and who acts even against the recommendations of the EU Energy Union, which demands to diversify energy sources” of the Twenty-seven, highlights De Pedro. The issue goes far beyond what in Spain is called “revolving doors”, politicians who go to the business world amidst the suspicions of citizens. “Gazprom is not Telefónica; it is an instrument of geopolitical influence of the Kremlin”; Furthermore, there is no reciprocity, because “no one in the EU can hire a relevant politician in Moscow,” the academic points out.
China, an emerging superpower, appears to be rapidly learning the basics of so-called “hybrid activity,” and has seized the opportunity provided by COVID-19 to denigrate its competitors, in what was called the ‘mask diplomacy’. At the beginning of the pandemic, when this was a problem confined to China, the Asian giant “achieved European solidarity” and discreetly collected the “stock of masks” on the continent, a good part of which “were donations. “says De Pedro. When the virus reached Europe and the disease began to ravage the continent, Beijing not only did not return the favor, but sold most of its masks to needy European states, taking the opportunity to criticize, through the media. communication, the management of the pandemic by the EU. “Here it is demonstrated how Beijing is able to use the information in a strategic way”, emphasizes the expert.
The French presidential elections of 2017
Everything seems to indicate that, after the success of Russian disinformation during the 2016 US presidential elections, the Kremlin tried a similar operation a year and a half later during the French presidential elections that confronted the current president Emmanuel Macron with the far-right leader Marine Le Pen, of declared sympathies towards Moscow. In the weeks leading up to the polls, they began to appear in social networks information about his alleged homosexuality, the existence of a hidden bank account or his desire to integrate Turkey into the EU. “The campaign failed due to the entente of the French media, which refused to publish and act as a speaker for such attacks,” recalls analyst De Pedro. “It was clear that the idea was to favor the favorite of the Kremlin,” says the analyst, a character who in the final sprint of the election came to travel to Moscow and meet with Putin.