Borrell: Lavrov “spreads lies” in Africa

Brussels 08.02.2023 “…Minister [of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Sergey] Lavrov is touring Africa again. These days, Mali and Eritrea; well, easy countries for them but others not so easy. Trying to spread lies about who is guilty for what is happening there” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell (pictured) said, while addressing the European External Action Service Conference on Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference.
The European External Action Service (EEAS) under the patronage of High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell brought together top political representatives and experts from around the globe to discuss the threats of foreign information manipulation and interference (FIMI). The conference “Beyond disinformation: EU responses to the threat of foreign information manipulation took place in Brussels. It was mainly focused on Russian the context of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

“It is not new. It started with the [COVID-19] pandemic. When the pandemic came, we started speaking about “the battle of narratives”. This is a sentence as important as “the Geopolitical Europe”. The battle of narratives started with the pandemic at the latest.

“And, today, that is clear: this war is not only conducted on the battlefield by the soldiers. It is also waged in the information space, trying to win the hearts and minds of people.

“And you will tell me: “nothing new on that, Goebbels already invented [that] during the Second World War – to lie and to spread disinformation is nothing new”. Well, what is new today is the intensity, the will and the instruments. Goebbels had no internet, and no social media instruments.

“But, today, people that behave like Goebbels – telling a lie 1,000 times – have a powerful capacity of multiplication at the speed of light and reaching everyone everywhere.

“Inside Russia, the crackdown on freedom of expression and freedom of the media has reached unprecedented levels. As in any authoritarian regime, particularly when one is at war, it has to hide to their population the number of casualties they are suffering”.

“…The price of wheat has increased. You do not have fertilisers, you cannot pay for the energy bill? “It is the Europeans’ fault”. “It is European sanctions”. “It is the European Union who is creating trouble around the world, preventing food [from] being exported and making the price of energy increase” the EU diplomat said.

“And, when you are feeling the consequences – when you feel [them] on yourself, on your pockets, on your mouth – food insecurity is not an abstract term. For us, food insecurity is an abstract term. For many people, food insecurity means that you do not have anything to eat. Then, it is important to know who is telling what and what are people believing, who are people believing.

“Our partners in Africa are the hardest hit; but you go to Latin America and South-East Asia and you will see the same thing.

“In this scenario, Russia is using information manipulation and interference as a crucial instrument of this war…” Josep Borrell continued.

During the FIMI conference Borrell presented its first ever threat report analysing foreign information manipulation and interference trends. The report uses best case practice methodology and outlines a wide variety of tactics of information manipulation and interference applied by Russia and China in the last months of 2022.

Mali’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, February 7, there is no need to justify co-operation with Russia on strengthening its military capabilities and importing oil and wheat, despite Western concerns.

Abdoulaye Diop was speaking as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made his first visit to the West African nation, where militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State and the other groups of religious extremists have waged a decade-long insurgency that has spread to neighbouring countries.

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