The East StratCom Task Force is a part of the administration of the European Union, focused on proactive communication of EU policies and activities in the Eastern neighbourhood (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus , Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine ) and beyond (Russia itself). The Team was created as a conclusion of the European Council meeting on 19 and 20 March 2015, stressing the need to challenge the ongoing disinformation campaigns by Russia .“
The East Stratcom Team is intended to develop dedicated communication material on priority issues, where EU strategic communication needs to be improved or the EU is subject to disinformation campaigns. Such products will be put at the disposal of the EU's political leadership, press services, EU delegations and EU Member States and are intended for the widest possible public audience. The Team is designated to develop communication campaigns, targeting key audiences and focused on specific issues of relevance to those audiences, including local issues. The actions of the East Stratcom Team are built on existing work and coherent with wider EU communication efforts, including activities of the EU institutions and EU Member States.
The team's positive communications products are mainly focused on the countries of the Eastern Neighbourhood and produced in the local languages of those countries. They are distributed via social media channels of the EU Delegations in the region, and are also carried on television and via other media and public events. In addition, the Task Force, in cooperation with the European Commission, led the EU's six month Eastern Partnership communications campaign culminating in the November 2017 Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels.
The team's main product to raise awareness of disinformation is the weekly Disinformation Review (in English and Russian languages). This can provide valuable data for analysts, journalists and officials dealing with this issue. The Disinformation Review also brings the latest news and analyses of pro-Kremlin disinformation. Launched in November 2015, the Disinformation Review has been described as "the best weekly disinformation bulletin anywhere in the West". The full record of the Task Force's work on disinformation is available on its website EUvsDisinfo.eu (in English, Russian and German languages). The team also runs the European External Action Service's Russian language website. It is also possible to follow the team on Twitter and Facebook. This communicates primarily about the EU's foreign policy by publishing information about EU activities, as well as EU statements and press releases with relevance to the Eastern Neighbourhood in particular.
EU Member State Governments have strongly supported the Task Force since its inception and provide the majority of its staff.
The European Parliament has consistently supported the Task Force and called for adequate staffing and resourcing. An EP preparatory action for 2018 – "StratCom Plus" - has allocated €1.1m for the team to focus on how to counter disinformation on the EU more systematically.
An article published October 2016 on Kommunikations Forum analyses the sources East StratCom use for debunking alleged disinformation. It criticizes the top three sites, Ukrainian StopFake, EU and NATO, for not being objective credible sources in this regard.
An opinion piece written by Danish commentator, Iben Thranholm, published on Russia Insider October 2015, were listed by East StratCom as pro-Kremlin disinformation. Member of the Danish Parliament, Marie Krarup, upon discovery raised the issue in January 2017, demanding Foreign Minister, Anders Samuelsen, to take action and stop ‘black listing’ of opinions, which he declined as the listing in his view was correctly labeled 'disinformation in support for Russia'. In response 28 commentators wrote a joint critique stressing their concern that ‘anybody with a critical view on mass immigration could end up in the black book of EU’.
An article published October 2016 on Folkets Avis, lists several instances, where East StratCom has labelled critique of non Western immigration to EU as pro-Kremlin disinformation, regardless that neither the media or the content has any relation to Russia.
Research conducted by investigative journalists at Danish newspaper, Politiken, showed that East StratCom along with Western media falsely blamed separatists, not government forces, in Eastern Ukraine for initiating an offensive in the area of Avdiivka in January 2017. Sources used by East StratCom included InformNapalm which the article shows has ties to Ukrainian death list, Myrotvorets (Peacemaker) that lists people including journalists as 'traitors' for expressing certain opinions or visiting separatist controlled areas in Eastern Ukraine.
Upon discovery of being listed for publishing pro-Kremlin disinformation, three Dutch major media organisations has sued the EU for libel. On 6 March 2018, a majority of 109 votes to 41 of the Dutch Parliament voted to close EUvsDisinfo. On 8 March 2018, East StratCom announced they had deleted the listings of Dutch media in their database "following a detailed review". On 9 March 2018, Dutch Minister of the Interior, who had previously opposed closing EUvsDisinfo, said that the government would make a case for closing it in the European Union. On 13 March 2018 the three Dutch media withdrew their case.