China and Russia are embarking on campaigns to erode confidence in the European Union’s coronavirus strategy and arouse skepticism about the coronavirus vaccines being developed in the West, the foreign service said. EU in a report released on Wednesday.
The report also raised concerns that countries are using these efforts to exert special influence over the Western Balkans.
What did the EU say?
The findings come from a report released by the EU External Action Service (EEAS) on disinformation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the report, “state-sponsored disinformation” efforts have intensified since early 2021, as vaccine deployments began to accelerate around the world.
As China and Russia have increased their efforts to promote their own state-produced vaccines, they have used these promotions to “undermine trust” in Western vaccines and European institutions.
To do so, the two countries “use state-controlled media, proxy media networks and social media, including official diplomatic social media accounts, to achieve these goals,” the report said.
In Russia, state media are trying to “cast doubt” on the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and accuse the body of delaying approval of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.
China, meanwhile, has spread “misleading accounts” about the origins of the coronavirus as well as the safety of some Western vaccines.
A Russian sovereign wealth fund responsible for marketing Sputnik V said the disinformation campaign was in fact against Russia and its vaccine.
“We will continue to fight against the disinformation campaign against Sputnik V in order to protect lives around the world and avoid the vaccine monopoly some vaccine producers may aspire to,” he said on Twitter.
Beijing and Moscow’s “vaccine diplomacy” strategies specifically target the Western Balkans in an effort to exert influence, the report said.
The report expressed concern that increasing coronavirus cases in the bloc and slow vaccine deployments are seen by Russia and China as examples of failed democracy and open societies.
Although the EU has been criticized for its slower-than-expected deployment of vaccines, the bloc says an increase in deliveries means it is on track to vaccinate 70% of adults this summer.
Yet Hungary broke with the rest of the EU and administered vaccines from both Russia and China.
In March, the EMA launched an ongoing review of Sputnik V. If given the green light, it would be the first coronavirus vaccine produced by non-Westerners to be approved for use in the OR.
rs / sms (UKTN, dpa)