Helena Lyng Blak
5 weeks ago

The EU Braces for Russian Interference Attempts as Elections Near

As elections across Europe approach, the specter of Russian interference looms, threatening the integrity of the democratic process.
FamVeld / Shutterstock.com
FamVeld / Shutterstock.com

This June, the 27 member nations of the European Union will hold elections for a total of 400 million voters, deciding who will serve as Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) for the next five years.

But as the election days grow closer, so does the threat of foreign interference in the outcome. Particularly concerning for the EU member states is the intelligence suggesting Russian interference.

On Friday, April 12, the Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced an inquiry into suspected Russian interference in the European elections.

Belgian and Czech intelligence services have both uncovered evidence of Russian operations seeking to sway the election results, with the former confirming the existence of a network trying to undermine support for Ukraine, according to AP News.

Since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the EU has firmly supported Ukraine and condemned the Russian offensive.

Recently, in March 2024, Josep Borrell, the European Union’s policy chief, proposed using the majority of profits from the €200 billion in frozen Russian assets held by the EU to support Ukraine militarily. 

This initiative followed increased sanctions by the EU, which now target over 2,100 individuals and entities and includes asset freezes. The sanctions were recently extended until September 2024 after being expanded in February.

“According to our intelligence service, the objectives of Moscow are very clear. The objective is to help elect more pro-Russian candidates to the European Parliament and to reinforce a certain pro-Russian narrative in that institution,” said De Croo according to AP News, explaining, “A weakened European support for Ukraine serves Russia on the battlefield.”

The Security of Europe at Stake

This is not the first mention of the Belgian and Czech investigation of Russian interference in the EU and its political processes. 

In March, allegations were made against several MEPs that they were being paid to promote Russian propaganda, with the European Parliament “looking into” the claims according to Euronews.

“The upcoming EU election will not be like any previous election,” said Swedish MEP Heléne Fritzon,  addressing the European Parliament during a debate of the allegations on April 10.

“In revelation after revelation, the connections between Putin and right-wing extremist and right-wing populist parties are being unraveled in plain sight,” she said, before asserting:

“The intentions are clear: to undermine support for Ukraine, to weaken our democracy, and to divide our continent. The security of all of Europe is at stake. We must not let Russia influence this election,” she said. 

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