European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Sunday that the EU will ban the Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik accusing them of spreading “harmful disinformation.” She did not specify whether this ban will apply solely to television broadcasts, or whether RT and Sputnik’s websites will be affected.
In what she called an “unprecedented” step, von der Leyen announced that “we will ban in the European Union the Kremlin’s media machine.”
“The state owned Russia Today and Sputnik, as well as their subsidiaries, will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war and to sow division in our union,” she continued. “We are developing tools to ban toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe.”
Von der Leyen’s move comes a day after the Association of European Journalists called on the EU to implement a bloc-wide ban on RT, and have its journalists “removed.” It also comes several days after the EU sanctioned RT’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan.
Simonyan responded to the latest ban by declaring that “not a single person who faithfully worked and continues to work for us will be laid off in any country.”
RT has previously faced censorship in Europe, with German regulators banning its German-language channel earlier this month. More recently, Google subsidiary YouTube and Facebook parent company Meta demonetized RT’s accounts on Saturday, while Google blocked downloads of RT’s app on Ukrainian territory earlier on Sunday.
Immediately before announcing the ban on RT and Sputnik, von der Leyen revealed that the EU will also close off its airspace to all Russian aircraft, and will supply Ukraine with weapons.