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Bratislava, Slovakia, 4 April 2015: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during an official visit in Slovakia.
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Spain unlikely to inoculate itself against Russian disinfo with cyber security partnership

Author(s):
Integrity Initiative

This is a translation and compilation of a series of tweets on 7 November 2018 by Nicolas de Pedro on the announcement that Spain and Russia would form a group to work on cyber security. It came after Russian Defence Minister Sergei Lavrov's visit to Spain. Aside from the obvious incongruity of trying to partner with possibly the world's biggest cyber threat against cyber threats, Mr de Pedro doubts Spain will gain anything significant. Reproduced with Mr de Pedro's permission.

‘Here is a small thread of rapid reaction to the announcement by Spain and Russia of "the creation of a working group on cybersecurity and false news".

The headline is obviously puzzling and troubling considering that Russia is one of the main problems for the EU and NATO in relation to cybersecurity and misinformation.

The content of the announcement points to some important and significant nuances. It is said that they want to "prevent [false news] from constituting" a source of friction "in the future".

In other words, it is implicitly recognizing that misinformation has been an element of friction in the past and this obviously refers to Russian media activity during the events in Catalonia in September-October 2017.

Lavrov himself has indicated that the media exceeded "the limits of their professional activity". The ‘media’ are Sputnik and RT in Spanish.

The problem is that the issue is more complicated and it will not be so simple (you remember what a few days ago that supposedly half of Berlin was talking about Spain’s supposedly "Franco justice"?....) [this was claimed to be from a report in a German paper but it turned out to be a website run in Russia and Transnistria].

My initial impression, in the absence of more details, is that Spain has wanted to "shield" itself bilaterally against the Russian threat - I anticipate, for example, that during the trial of the independence politicians there may be new moments of uncertainty and vulnerability.

But there are two obvious problems with the Spanish position: a) The Russian propaganda machine will exploit this (a headline today from RT in Spanish saying that Spain and Russia "condemn" US policy already gives some clues).

And b) the image that is transmitted abroad, above all, towards our allies... where clear examples of surprise and even some discomfort are detected.

Finally, Russia will surely use this announcement in its systematic policy of weakening the EU and NATO... whose strength lies in coherence and internal consensus.

And I fear that Russia will not be the only one to exploit this announcement... so we'll see if it actually reinforces or weakens Spain's position against external interference.'

The original tweet thread in Spanish can be found here.

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