Home » Italy Uncovers Russian Plot to Disrupt EU with Protests

Italy Uncovers Russian Plot to Disrupt EU with Protests

Amidst recent farmer rallies, Rome’s intelligence identified pro-Kremlin social media attempts to falsely connect them to sanctions on Russia. “It’s a clumsy attempt”, says Undersecretary Mantovano during the presentation of the 2023 Security Intelligence Policy Report

During recent days, amidst protests by Italian farmers, the Italian intelligence community has been monitoring pro-Russian social media channels attempting to promote the unsubstantiated idea that the protests are a result of the economic sanctions imposed on Russia.

  • “It’s a clumsy attempt, but it gives you an idea of the challenge,” said Undersecretary Alfredo Mantovano, who also oversees intelligence matters, during the presentation of the 2023 Security Intelligence Policy Report.
  • A few weeks ago, EUvsDisinfo, the European Union counter-disinformation flagship project, had already highlighted how the farmers’ protests across Europe were being exploited by the Kremlin’s propaganda apparatus in an attempt to destabilize the Union. The aim is to exacerbate the perception of divisions between the people and what Moscow refers to as the “Brussels elites,” who are seen as colluding with Kyiv to destroy the EU agricultural market.

Undersecretary Mantovano commented that the task of intelligence “is not, and will never be, to control the content and ideas published online.”

  • Instead, intelligence focuses on “verifying the authenticity and traceability of information online, as well as the authenticity of social media profiles and the dynamics of content creation without any distortion by actors who aim to destabilize information and democratic processes. In this light, I hope that during the campaign for the [European] elections, we will never lose sight of the deep sense of common belonging to our nation.”

Italian intelligence assesses that every attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to signal the start of possible negotiations has been met with an explicit unwillingness to offer any concessions.

  • This highlights how any pause in the fighting would only be aimed at reconstituting Russian forces to launch further attacks in the future, as stated in the report.

A major novelty in the document presented today is the unprecedented attention given to China.

  • With the Meloni government’s decision not to renew the memorandum of understanding on the Belt and Road Initiative, the document addresses the challenge posed by China in a new way, within the context of a new globalization marked by competition.
  • The current international context requires de-risking policies to limit strategic dependencies and avoid “coercive measures” enacted by actors such as China, explained Elisabetta Belloni, Director of Italy’s intelligence community (DIS).

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