Analysing international policy processes and Lithuania’s role in them
Review Apr 02, 2024

Russia’s disinformation in Eastern Europe: revealing the geopolitical narratives and communication proxies in Moldova


This policy paper investigates the geopolitical narratives linked to Russian disinformation, as well as those embraced by the Moldovan political actors who are closely or remotely aligned with Russia. These narratives are scrutinized to evaluate their proximity, frequency, convergence, East-West orientation dichotomy, and their intended functions or goals. The paper offers a set of recommendations based on antidisinformation techniques aimed at ignoring, containing, minimising and/or redirecting attention from false or manipulative information. The methodology employed in this article is pertinent for examining the narratives and proxies of disinformation utilised by Russia or other geopolitical actors, who are exploiting the internal divisions and externally-driven vulnerabilities that both mature and emerging democracies may face.

Control of the information domain has become a crucial element of a country’s national security and strategic strength, particularly in an era characterised by geopolitical uncertainties. In this global context, the manipulation of information to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations and to achieve specific strategic objectives has become increasingly prominent, especially when analysing autocratic regimes. These regimes often employ disinformation as a key non-kinetic activity conducted against Western liberal democracies.

Disinformation has been a longstanding issue; however, it was during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 20201 when the concept of “infodemiology” began to gain prominence, referring to the deliberate dissemination of false information aimed at undermining governments and global entities. Subsequently, evidence has emerged indicating that Russia (and China) strategically utilised information as a tool in their “vaccine diplomacy,” seeking to shape narratives and exert an influence over public and political behaviour in Europe and other regions. The prevalence of disinformation also increased both before and after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Russian-style disinformation was employed on all external fronts to vilify Ukraine, sow discord among Western allies, and to cultivate a favourable image of Russia among its strategic allies and the Global South at large.

Read the full publication here.

The policy paper was written within the framework of the project “Building Strategic Communication to Counter Russian Disinformation in Moldova”, implemented by “Expert-Grup” in partnership with the Eastern Europe Studies Centre, with financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania.

Associate Expert at the EESC and Research Fellow and PhD student at the Institute of Political Science at the Justus Lybig University of Giessen, Germany, researching global governance and the resilience of countries in the EU neighbourhood. He has published extensively between 2015 and 2021 on European integration, EU-Russia interaction, good governance and energy security in Eastern Europe. Mr Cenusa is also an Associate Expert at the Moldova think tank Expert-Grup, where since 2015 he has been coordinating a SIDA-funded joint project with the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels on Sakartvel, Moldova and Ukraine.