EU’s ‘Russian meddling’ alert system not detecting any meddling
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The EU’s Rapid Alert System, created to tackle the alleged Russian meddling, whose existence has been eluding proof for the past few years, hasn’t sounded a single alarm in the six months of its existence, a report has found.
In its piece on the struggles of the ambitious project, the New York Times cited an inside joke popular in Brussels before the European Parliament election in May, about the Rapid Alert System: “It’s not rapid. There are no alerts. And there’s no system.”
The system never issued any warnings at all, the NYT reports, but not before setting up the mood by talking about how “Russian efforts metastasized” during the 2016 elections in the US, how analysts spotted “unmistakable signs” of the Kremlin’s hand around an Austrian political scandal and quoting EU officials who speak of “continued and sustained disinformation activity from Russian sources.”
The Rapid Alert System was established in early 2019 as a digital network for EU countries to share intelligence and file warnings about Moscow’s alleged nefarious activities as the EU leaders picked up on the handy American trend of blaming Russia for their problems.
For something purportedly so vital for the survival of the European democracy, very little was apparently done to support the system. Two thirds of the participant nations never contributed anything to it, while those who did only shared news clippings or reports compiled by various NGOs. No standards have been developed for submitting data, with no one in charge of analyzing the gathered materials and making conclusions, essentially making the Rapid Alert System a dump for unverified information of questionable value.
“The R.A.S. is at risk of becoming defunct,” the NYT quotes a Czech government report. “If we want more than to spend resources on maintaining a platform to occasionally share studies by NGOs or invitations to conferences, we need to rethink our strategy.”
The report also laments EU laws on free speech for limiting the Rapid Alert System’s effectiveness, since they prevent “experts” from debunking information on European websites and social media that allegedly comes from Moscow.
The NYT and top ‘Russian disinformation’ experts it quotes frame it as a legit system, well-equipped to expose a sinister Kremlin effort, despite its otherwise stunning inability to alert anyone to Moscow’s attacks on European elections, which those same experts claim to be happening all the time. While they blame the mechanism’s silence on the lack of support from the member states, in reality what it seeks to detect has been much more evident in the realm of internal political finger-pointing and point-scoring than in the realm of proven fact. There is a drastic shortage of factual evidence to go with claims of Russia’s “malign activities,” and even a Czech expert quoted in the NYT piece admits people aren’t all that excited by the “Potemkin village” that is the Rapid Alert System: “People in the know, they don’t take it seriously.”
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