European Union warns Russia             

European Union warns Russia             

STRASBOURG: (APP) The European Parliament on Wednesday warned that "hostile propaganda" by Russia against the EU was growing and urged Brussels to step up its fight against disinformation.

Lawmakers voted in favour of a motion condemning Kremlin outlets like the television channel RT (previously Russia Today) and the news agency Sputnik for disseminating "absolutely fake" news.

They urged the European Union to boost its "tiny" nine-strong strategic communication force set up to counter disinformation when tensions grew with Russia amid the conflict in Ukraine.

The MEPs said they were "seriously concerned by the rapid expansion of Kremlin-inspired activities in Europe, including disinformation and propaganda seeking to maintain or increase Russia's influence to weaken and split the EU."

The motion was approved by 304 votes to 179, with 208 abstentions.

The MEPs warned that the Kremlin was using a "wide range of tools and instruments" including think-tanks, television and "pseudo news agencies" to spread fake information.

The resolution said since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 the Kremlin had stepped up efforts to "challenge democratic values, divide Europe, gather domestic support and create the perception of failed states in the EU's eastern neighbourhood."

It added that the Russian government was also funding political parties in the EU and backing "anti-EU forces" like far-right parties and populist groups.