Russia vs. EU: Where next in propaganda war?

Sasha Mordovets | Getty Images

The battle to win hearts and minds in the conflict between Russia and the West has seen another salvo.

While Russia is concluding a week's celebration of the anniversary of the annexation of Crimea (a move which helped lead to the country's parlous economic state), the European Union (EU) is creating a new communications team to counter what they feel to be misinformation coming from the Kremlin.

"This is an extraordinary step (by the EU) and reflects frustration that this situation is dragging on," Chris Weafer, founding partner at Russia investment specialist Macro Advisory, told CNBC on Friday.

"Both sides are talking their own blueprint. The Kremlin are feeding into the mood of Russia by celebrating the anniversary of Crimea. This also overshadows the current frozen conflict in Ukraine."

You don't have to look too far to see the imprint of the Ministry of Truth, the propaganda machine which fueled the dystopian state in George Orwell's novel "1984."

President Vladimir Putin recently admitted that the Russian government started preparing to annex Crimea far in advance of the disputed referendum, in which Crimean residents allegedly voted for the region to be handed back to Russia.

This has raised even more doubts over the credibility of earlier assertions by Moscow that the Russian military was uninvolved in destabilizing other disputed regions of Ukraine.

Within the Russian-speaking world, the new EU communications team will struggle to match Moscow's ability to disseminate the Kremlin worldview through state-endorsed television channels, social media and internet comments.

Several Russian media outlets previously seen as more independent have recently adopted a more pro-Kremlin approach. And so far, economic hardship does not seem to have diminished Russian support for Putin.

One way of the EU competing could be to get Russian-speaking EU member states such as Lithuania—some of which have been particularly vocal against Russia's recent behaviour—to pool resources to disseminate more media giving the EU perspective to Russians.

However, the EU is facing plenty of its own problems, not least growing pro-Russian sentiment in some of its 28 member states.

"The political challenges facing Europe are now immense - dealing with the perceived threat from Russia, the rise of far right/far left and anti-immigration impulses, and generally centrifugal forces and the sense that European institutions are still detached from the people," Tim Ash, head of emerging markets research at Standard Bank, pointed out.