Russia has activated all its knowhow to influence the course of the war against Ukraine, Ukrainian officials have said.

In particular, the Russian federation uses “agents of influence”, who they have cultivated over many years, to support their position within the politics of Western countries. In addition, Russian authorities are actively using every tool of propaganda both against their own population and Euro-Atlantic society. This is especially aimed at politicians and other official figures to attempt to delay the supply of military aid to Ukraine. 

“Analyzing the current situation in Europe, the active work of Russian agents is really noticeable. Their key task is to promote isolationist narratives in Ukraine. It seems that it makes no sense for European countries to finance a foreign country, because they have many of their own internal problems to solve,” Solomiya Khoma, coordinator for international cooperation at the Ukrainian Security and Cooperation Center (USCC) in Romania, told the Kyiv Post. 

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Currently, the USCC, created in April 2021 by a team of activists at the time of the Revolution of Dignity, in partnership with Ukrainian communities and public organizations, organizes campaigns and materials to identify Russian agents of influence and direct the attention of European countries to them. The organization also analyzes the way Russian agencies work, their tactics and tools, to provide the basis on which to develop its own methods of countering them.

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According to Khoma, despite the fact that many methods were introduced to counter Russian propaganda, including sanctions against the news agencies Russia Today and Sputnik, Russia found a way round the situation. Now pro-Russian views are disseminated through commissioned analysts, journalists and experts. 

“It should be noted that only 7-8% of Western companies have left the Russian market, while the remaining companies continue to pay taxes to the budget of the Russian Federation. In November, the European Commission identified 30 thousand Russian companies located in Europe that continued to operate. One thousand and forty of them were directly related to Russian figures who have been sanctioned,” Khoma commented. 

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Pro-Russian narratives are promoted, in particular, by a number of Western politicians and political parties. The current tactic is to press for negotiations for peace to start on the basis taht war is expensive. 

For example, on October 8, former Romanian Defense Minister Vasile Dincu said on Prima TV that the only chance for peace can be negotiations with Russia through intermediaries. However, on October 11, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said in response that “Ukrainians pay blood in this war, and we must all accept the idea that only Ukraine will decide when, how and what to negotiate.”

After this and a number of negative reactions from the Romanian government, Dincu resigned from his post of Defense Minister on October 24, citing “the impossibility of cooperation with the president of Romania, the Supreme Commander-in-chief of the army.”

However, the USCC notes that now Russian propaganda is becoming more oblique and complex, with statements not mentioning Russia and, sometimes, not even Ukraine either. According to Khoma, in Romania, theses like “Romania's interests should come first, which means that the EU is not profitable and cooperation with NATO is not relevant.” In other words, these tactics are primarily aimed at disrupting unity within the Euro-Atlantic community. “After all, it is the unity of the Euro-Atlantic community that determines how well we, together as the Western coalition, will successfully resist Russian aggression,” the USSC coordinator said. 

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In order to fight Russian propaganda and Russian agents in the West, in particular in Romania, the USCC is holding a photo exhibition entitled “Year of Invincibility - The Point of No Return”. The purpose of the event is to keep the issue of punishment for all of Russia’s crimes alive at the international level. In particular, it hopes to bring Russian military and political figures to justice, to exclude Russia from the UN Security Council, and so on. 

In addition, the USCC emphasizes that “the most important thing is to emphasize the impossibility of negotiating with criminals, because they only use it to buy time for themselves.” 

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"The exhibition reinforces the view that it is necessary to fight Russia, not only on the Ukrainian Front, but also in every partner country that stands alongside Ukraine in this struggle. In the end, in this way, countries not only help Ukraine, but also take care of their own security," Khoma summed up.

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