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- In recent years, Russia has ramped up its influence operations in the Western Balkans. Deploying propaganda and disinformation, Moscow stirs lingering regional tensions and undermines the EU’s credibility in Western Balkan nations.
- EU institutions and member states have a vital interest in confronting Russian efforts to destabilize the Western Balkans. After all, European security relies heavily on peace, prosperity, and stability in the Western Balkans.
- An effective European response includes active push-back against Russian propaganda and smarter outreach to Western Balkan nations.
- Moscow’s information war can best be countered by supporting local fact-checking initiatives that expose Russian disinformation, by teaching media literacy from an early age; by promoting freedom of the press and by helping pro-Western media sources become more affordable, accessible, and geared towards the concerns of Western Balkan nations.
- EU institutions and member states need to also address the growing disillusionment with the West that Moscow feeds and exploits. They need to better advertise the extent of EU engagement in and with the Western Balkans, extend targeted aid that immediately affects peoples’ lives, and pressure Western Balkan leaders that misrepresent the amount of support EU institutions and member states give to their countries.