The political adviser of the US Embassy in Bucharest, David Schlaefer told an interview to Digi24 that the USA are concerned about Russia’s attempts to create division at the level of the Romanian society, through propaganda, to weaken the country and the relation with the USA and the European partners.
“Russia is one of the US concerns in Romania and in this part of the world. It is certainly a major concern for our embassy in Bucharest and we believe what we have seen over the course of the recent years is a very strategic attempt by Russia to influence both contemporary politics in eastern Europe, or in Europe as a whole, and not only to influence, but also to weaken countries in certain ways, in a longer term,” the US diplomat said.
“We are very concerned about Russia’s attempts in Romania, to create a type of narrative through propaganda, through traditional platforms, like Sputnik or something like that, also by unattributed viral videos, viral postings on social media that are really designed to weaken Romania as a country, to create divisions within Romanian society and especially to create divisions at the perceptions between Romania and its partners, allies in the West, to weaken the transatlantic relationship in ties between Romania and USA, as well as to weaken Romania’s affiliation with other members of the EU and maybe with NATO, and to do all these things in the foreign policy’s interest of Moscow, as opposed to the legitimate interest that Romania might have,” David Schlaefer argued.
He exemplified with the case of the elections in the United States. “In real time, we might see Russian efforts to manipulate elections, to create more division during election cycle, to make people have less confidence in their institutions, in their electoral system. We saw that in the USA, everyone knows that there was this real attempt by Russia to interfere in the American elections and it was about one candidate or another, but to see that our entire system come into question so that the America’s faith in the electoral system to be eroded“.
“The other strategy in a longer term is to promote news stories, certain narratives, etc, during a long period of time, maybe targeting young people in particular, for their memory don’t stretch far back in time, they were not around during the Ceasescu’s regime, they were children back then, perhaps that time they did not experience that period or its immediate aftermath, maybe they are more susceptible to that type of message: you know, Romania has more in common with Russia or with other eastern countries than it does with its partners in central or western Europe, we have a conservative culture, maybe religious affinities, these can be positive things (…) but instead they are turned into a negative, instead of being something positive, it’s twisted so that the good things can be a tool of trying to divide Romania from the west.
We are concerned that over time that kind of message can be very dangerous, a very corrosive message that can threat Romania’s ties with the West on long term.
It doesn’t mean Romania will leave the EU, but it can mean that the ties and the feelings that people have about these ties can become weaker, that weak that can make Romania much more difficult to interact in an effective way with its partners and allies that want Romania to be strong like the USA or western countries. That’s a concern that we have going forward,” he warned.