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Britain says G7 to consider mechanism to counter Russian disinformation

Russia's President Vladimir Putin. (Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS/Abaca Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Britain is proposing an international effort to counter Russian propaganda and disinformation, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on May 2.

Raab will host a meeting of the foreign ministers from the Group of Seven nations on May 3-5, its first in-person meeting in two years, with tensions with Russia high on the agenda.

Britain will ask the G7 to come together to develop “a rapid rebuttal mechanism” against Russian “lies and propaganda or fake news,” Raab told reporters ahead of the meeting.

While he didn’t provide specifics, Raab said the idea is to “come together to provide a rebuttal — and frankly to provide the truth — for the people of this country but also in Russia or China or around the world.”

The members of the G7 are Britain, the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan. Britain has also invited representatives from Australia, India, South Korea, and South Africa to some of the meetings.

Russia used to be part of what was the G8, but its membership was suspended in 2014 due to Moscow’s forcible annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

British, U.S., and European officials accuse Russia of spreading disinformation on a range of issues, including elections, COVID-19 vaccines, and NATO.

At the G7, Raab will present Foreign Office-funded research showing pro-Russian trolls are targeting newspapers in democracies to try to create the impression that the public supports Russian aggression toward Ukraine, the Sunday Times reported.

“Pro-Russian trolls are posting comments on Ukraine and other areas, both to influence opinion here but to be played back in the Russian media,” Raab told the newspaper.

The London summit will also discuss expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines around the world, supporting girls’ education, setting climate action goals, and preventing famine.