On 18 January 2018, the United Kingdom and France, represented respectively by Prime Minister Theresa May and President Emmanuel Macron, held a defence summit at the Sandhurst Royal Military Academy. The two states decided to beef up their cooperation against both Russia in the Baltic States and terrorism in the Sahel. They also decided to intensify the build-up of their Combined Joint Expeditionary Force which was initially launched during the war against Libya [1].

On 22 January, the UK Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Nicholas Carter, came out with a shocking statement at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) [2]. According to him, the West’s continuing development will give it a serious technological edge over the rest of the world. A frightened - yet powerfully rearmed - Russia would now tempted to start a new world war.

These remarks are totally at variance with the US National Security Strategy, which, on the contrary, deems the scientific and technical level of the United States to have collapsed. The White House perceives Russia as a rival aiming to dismantle the Atlantic Alliance, but not as a threatening power.

The following day, 23 January, the National Security Council decided to endow the UK with a new national unit to counter "disinformation" from foreign states in general, and Russia in particular. The spokesman for the Prime Minister said: "We are living in an era of fake news and competing narratives. The government will respond with more and better use of national security communications to tackle these interconnected, complex challenges."

Three months ago, Theresa May had denounced the Russian danger during a speech to the London City Hall. [3] In particular, she said: "Russia is seeking to weaponize information, deploying its state-run media organizations to plant fake news stories and photo-shopped images in an attempt to sow discord in the West and undermine our institutions."

On his part, the French president announced before the European Union an upcoming initiative against Russian propaganda, while the Czech government has set up a Center against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats, under the authority of its minister of the Interior. Masterminded by Social Democrat Milan Chovanec, this Center was designed to fight against the opposition media (Parlamentní listy, AE News, Lajkit.cz, Protiproud) accused without any evidence of being fed by Russia.

Anoosha Boralessa

[1« Communiqué - Sommet franco-britannique 2018 », Réseau Voltaire, 19 janvier 2018.

[2Dynamic Security Threats and the British Army”, by General Sir Nick Carter, Voltaire Network, 22 January 2018.

[3Theresa May speech to the Lord Mayor’s Banquet 2017”, by Theresa May, Voltaire Network, 13 November 2017.