1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Russia bans access to over 80 EU news outlets

June 25, 2024

Russia has banned a slew of EU media outlets after its broadcasters were banned in the bloc. Brussels and Moscow have also traded accusations on satellite jamming, and the Kremlin pointed to the risks of a nuclear clash.

An image of a Rossiya TV set featuring a large screen projection of Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as cameras and equipment
DW and many other Western outlets have already been banned in RussiaImage: Alexander Miridonov/Kommersant/Sipa USA/picture alliance

Moscow on Tuesday banned Russians from accessing 81 Western media sites from 25 EU nations, accusing them of "systematically distributing inaccurate information" about Russia's "special military operation" — the official name the Kremlin has given its invasion of Ukraine.

To call the conflict in Ukraine a war or invasion is a criminal offense in Russia.

Russia has already shut down most independent media operating within its borders as well as any that are critical of President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday's move was in retaliation for a May decision by the EU to block what Brussels called four "Kremlin-linked propaganda networks," including the Prague-based Voice of Europe, from broadcasting in Europe.

Russia had criticized the EU decision, calling it "politically motivated." Brussels said the move was to combat outlets "instrumental in bringing forward and supporting" Russia's invasion.

EU official says Russian decision is 'nonsense'

French news agency AFP, Germany's Der Spiegel, Spain's El Pais, and state broadcasters from Austria, Ireland and Italy were among the Western outlets blocked by the Kremlin. The news site Politico was also among those banned.

European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova blasted the move as "nonsense," in a post on the social media platform X.

Moscow said it would be willing to reverse its decision if the EU ban on Russian outlets were lifted.

"The Russian side has repeatedly warned at various levels that politically motivated harassment of domestic journalists and unjustified bans on Russian media in the EU area would not go unanswered," they said.

Many Western outlets pulled staff out of Russia after its February 2022 invasion of neighboring Ukraine, fearing retaliation against employees when the Russian Duma passed blanket laws against "discrediting" the Russian armed forces.

DW was banned within days of the invasion, with journalists being hurried out of the country.

Tuesday's decision comes one day before the start of an espionage trial against US Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who denies that he has ever worked for the CIA. Gershkovich has spent the past year in detention.

Russia ranks 162 of 180 on the 2024 Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index.

Reporters in the country are regularly, jailed, harassed and killed.

Fighting to free journalist Evan Gershkovich from Russia

Moscow, West trade accusations of satellite jamming

Tuesday's announcement came on an unusually busy day for news in the widening conflict between Russia and the West over the ongoing war in Ukraine.

In Geneva, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) confirmed that it is investigating complaints from Ukraine and a number of EU countries about satellite interference including the jamming of GPS navigation systems.

A statement released by the EU said such jamming could gravely endanger air-traffic control. Ukraine also cited numerous instances of children's TV shows being hijacked to show bloody images of the war.

Russia denies any involvement in the incidents and has lodged its own complaint against NATO interference with its satellite network.

The ITU, a 193-member body tasked with regulating the global satellite system, said Tuesday that it would "not prejudge" the outcome of its current meeting, scheduled to end on June 28, noting that its "objective is to resolve the matter to allow for the operation of radio communications services free of harmful interference."

Prisoner exchange brings a ray of hope as conflict continues

Meanwhile, Russia and Ukraine confirmed they have completed the biggest exchange of prisoners in several months, with each side returning 90 people across the front line. The United Arab Emirates mediated in the deal.

"Today, 90 more of our people have returned home from Russian captivity," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

"We remember all our people in Russian captivity. We continue to work for the release of each and every one of them," he added.

In turn, Russia said that 90 of its servicemen "who were in mortal danger in captivity have been returned from territory controlled by the Kyiv regime."

In Brussels, European leaders also announced the start of accession negotiations with both Ukraine and Moldova on Tuesday. Russia has consistently attempted to keep both former Soviet states from deepening ties with the EU, demanding that they belong to its sphere of influence.

Lastly, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov joined the chorus of Russian representatives leveling dramatic threats of nuclear confrontation with the West.

Ryabkov said Western underestimation of Russian resolve could lead to "tragic and fatal" consequences if it continued to confront Moscow over Ukraine, adding, "there is a danger [of nuclear confrontation], it cannot be underestimated, that their side may make a mistake. We will try not to."

Putin delivers nuclear warning in annual address

js/dj (AFP, AP, Reuters)