Confuse, Divide and Rule - How Russia Drives Europe Apart

Sijbren de Jong

Whereas the EU typically views regional integration as a vehicle for positive change, Russia has repeatedly tried to portray European integration as a malign force. Whereas the European Commission prefers to operate as a Union of 28 states, Russia by contrast, prefers to employ a tactic of ‘divide and rule’ whereby it either aims at weakening the centre (Brussels) by playing off one Member State against the other, or undermine EU cohesion and coherence as a whole. This Policy Brief analyses two domains where these competing narratives meet in closer detail: (i) how Russia engages in patterns of information and disinformation to spin certain narratives about Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas imports, which can in turn undermine the EU’s efforts to create an Energy Union, and (ii) how the Kremlin draws on Eurosceptic political parties and stakeholders in support of certain narratives that advance its political goals of undermining the EU’s cohesion and coherence.