- Luxembourg has close economic and financial ties to Russia, and is therefore reluctant to alienate Russia with punitive measures
- Luxembourg does not consider Russian disinformation or hostile influence operations to be a security threat
- No relevant initiatives addressing the disinformation threat exist at either the state, counterintelligence, or non-governmental level
Relations with the Russian Federation
Trying to stay away from the issues. Historical, energy-related or economically special relations with Russia. Neither feels threatened and nor acknowledges the threat, outside the conflict in Ukraine.
Luxembourg is one of the founding nations of NATO and the EU nations, and one of the three Benelux states. Reputed primarily as a tax haven and banking hub, Luxembourg is a small and militarily insignificant country whose primary source of economic prosperity derives from its financial services. Due to high levels of investment from Russia (and vice versa), Luxembourg is reluctant to implement EU measures aimed at restricting shady financials from Russia. However, although Luxembourg relies considerably on Russian financing, it supports common EU policies designed to penalize Russia for violating international law. Luxembourgian officials have also expressed hope that peace in Ukraine is attainable, and that Russia and Ukraine will reach compromise over their disagreements. Within the EU, Luxembourg’s relationship with Russia is best summarized as ‘trying to stay away from the issues’. According to the latest Eurobarometer, 21% of the public in Luxembourg had a positive view of Russia.
Political acknowledgement of the threat
Luxembourg has thus far been slow in addressing the threat of Russian disinformation and other hostile influence efforts in Europe. Luxembourg continues to see Russia as an important strategic partner and therefore takes a softer approach to the question of punitive measures. Although Russia’s violations of international law and the annexation of Crimea were strongly condemned by Luxembourg, there is growing opposition to economic sanctions on the grounds that they have proven inefficient in achieving their intended goals.
Luxembourgian Prime Minister Xavier Bettel indirectly admitted the threat of Russian disinformation after his meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi in 2015. Russian state media reported that Bettel and Putin agreed to create a joint investment fund and called it a Luxembourg-domiciled “financial platform for operations in [Russian] roubles”. Bettel´s spokesman denied it by saying that “it was not an issue in the talks “. Putin also portrayed the visit as a type of EU-Russia meeting because, at the time, Luxembourg held the EU Council presidency. However, Bettel´s office also denied this claim saying: “This was a bilateral visit. We had no EU mandate to go to Sochi”. However, this incident was handled more as a case of misinterpretation rather than intentional disinformation.
Also, in 2015, Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Asselborn declared in a parliamentary statement that lasting international isolation of Russia would be counterproductive and that sanctions cannot be a solution to the Ukrainian conflict. “We must create a new basis of cooperation with Russia to keep peace and a certain level of normality,” he said. This placatory attitude towards Russia has persisted. For example, while on a visit to Moscow in October 2017, Prime Minister Bettel said that “bilateral relations between our countries are good, the basis of our relationship is solid and anchored in our common history”.
Government activities against Russian influence & disinformation
Given the lack of political acknowledgement of the threat, it is unsurprising that no concerted state action has been undertaken to raise awareness of or counter Russian disinformation or other hostile influence operations. Although Luxembourg remains aligned with EU and NATO policy, the Duchy would like to see normalization of relations with Russia. It does not consider Russian disinformation and hostile influence to be a serious threat, and is currently not pursuing any state-level strategy to mitigate it.
However, on the governmental level, there is a growing effort to teach media literacy. The Ministry of Education, Children and Youth has launched the National Strategy Digital Education. The strategy aims to enable students to develop the skills necessary for appropriate and responsible use of ICTs and to promote innovative pedagogical projects using digital technology in schools. Luxembourg is also the only country in Europe that has established mandatory training on safer Internet use within the education system.
The approach of intelligence agencies to Russian interference
There are no relevant counterintelligence activities or documents detailing an official position on the matter of Russian disinformation or subversive influence. However, given the prominence and value of its financial sector, Luxembourg is particularly concerned with cybersecurity, and has a detailed national cybersecurity strategy.
Activities of the non-governmental sector
There are no relevant non-governmental initiatives concerned with disinformation. There is, however, a non-governmental national initiative concerning media literacy called BEE SECURE that specifically addresses media literacy and the safe use of new media by young people in Luxembourg. Introduced in 2010, it aims to promote information security and the safe use of networked devices among the general public in Luxembourg, with a special focus on children, youth, parents, teachers, educators and senior citizens. As a national centre of competence and excellence in information safety, BEE SECURE supports the implementation of the country’s strategy for information safety and security.
 “How do European democracies react to Russian aggression”. European Values. 22 April 2017. Available at: http://www.europeanvalues.net/russia/
 Majerus, J. (2015). “EU-28 Watch: Luxembourg”. EU-28 Watch. October 2015. http://eu-28watch.org/issues/issue-no-11/luxembourg/
 National Strategy for Cyber Security (2011). The Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. http://www.gouvernement.lu/3966881/2011-strategie-cybersecurite.pdf