Democracies must co-operate to stop Russian election meddling, says US diplomat

Democracies Must Co-Operate To Stop Russian Election Meddling, Says Us Diplomat
Claire Cronin said the threat of Kremlin-backed attempts to undermine the democratic process was particularly acute in European countries.
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By David Young, PA

Democracies around the world must remain united in tackling Russian efforts to interfere with elections, the US ambassador to Ireland has warned.

Claire Cronin said the threat of Kremlin-backed attempts to undermine the democratic process was particularly acute in European countries.


Ms Cronin was addressing an event in Dublin focused on propaganda and disinformation attributed to Russia. The Kremlin consistently denies propagating such disinformation.

Tuesday’s seminar, which brought together a range of experts on the issue, was hosted by the European Commission Representation in Ireland.

Russian disinformation panel discussion
The ambassadors of Ukraine and the United States to Ireland and head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland during a panel. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA. 


It was supported by the Ukrainian and US embassies in Ireland and also Ukrainian Action in Ireland, a group working with the almost 100,000 refugees who have made Ireland their home since the outbreak of war in their homeland.

Ambassador of Ukraine to Ireland, Larysa Gerasko, and the head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland, Barbara Nolan, also addressed the event.

Ms Cronin told the gathering that the United States would continue to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes”.

“One of the ways that Russia tries to splinter our unified support is through disinformation, spreading lies to advance the Kremlin’s policy goals,” she said.


“The Kremlin aims to interject chaos into the information sphere, confusing global audiences about Russia’s real actions and intentions in Ukraine, Georgia and elsewhere.

“The themes of Russia’s disinformation are expansive: from propaganda about Russia’s kidnapping and illegal detention of Ukraine’s children to lies about Russia’s decision to terminate its participation in the Black Sea grain initiative, which jeopardised global food security. We know of Russia’s efforts to undermine public confidence in elections in democracies throughout the world, but especially here in Europe.

“We also know that one of the most effective ways to counter Russia’s schemes are to expose them by shining a light on this activity and, by providing concrete and actionable information, we hope to promote awareness and resilience. This is a global challenge, and the community of democracies must remain united in our collective defence of election integrity.”

Russian disinformation panel discussion
Larysa Gerasko, ambassador of Ukraine to Ireland, takes part in the event in Dublin. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA. 

Ambassador Gerasko said Ukraine had been on the “front line” of the “Russian disinformation war” for many years.

“We have seen firsthand the devastating impact that Russian disinformation can have on individuals, communities and entire countries,” she said.

Ms Gerasko called for a “strategic and coordinated” international approach to combat disinformation.


“The threats posed by Russian disinformation are not just hypothetical,” she said.

“They are real world. They have happened before and are happening right now, not only in Ukraine, but in all countries where Russia wants to sow distrust in democratic institutions, such as media, the government and the electoral process.”

She added: “Russia should be accountable for its disinformation and propaganda due to the far-reaching and detrimental consequences of these deliberate actions.

“This systematic disinformation of false narratives and manipulated information by Russian entities undermines the foundation of truth, distorts the public perception and erodes trust in democratic process. This deliberate manipulation of information is not just a Ukrainian issue, but a global concern.

“Russian propaganda is produced in incredibly large volumes and is broadcast or otherwise distributed via many channels.”

Ms Nolan outlined the ways the European Union was acting to ensure more robust oversight of social media companies and of disinformation circulated on their platforms.

“We’re doing a lot but despite all of these actions to tackle disinformation, we are fully aware that we’re only reaching the tip of the iceberg,” she said.

“And that’s why co-operation with like-minded partners – with Ukraine, with the United States – is really important.

“We need a co-ordinated and targeted response to be effective in the fight against disinformation. I think we all know that peace and democracy are not a given. We must remain vigilant and not let disinformation divide us or undermine our democracy.”

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