Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual end-of-year news conference
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking during his annual end-of-year news conference in MoscowReuters

The UK is among a number of countries informally backing a new Russian-language TV channel to counter the influence of Russian state-run propaganda, according to a Latvian official.

The proposed channel would offer "factually correct news" alongside entertainment, rather than propaganda, Latvia's Minister for Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs told BuzzFeed News.

"Russian TV, particularly in the last couple of years, has been very aggressive in what can no longer be considered normal news or normal journalism, but is more information warfare and propaganda," Rinkēvičs said.

Up to 15 EU members were backing the idea informally, he said, including the UK and Poland, as well as Scandinavian countries.

Both the Unites States and the EU have looked at ways to combat the Kremlin's grip on media within Russia, where the state has shuttered a host of critical media outlets since Putin assumed the presidency.

Putin has also expanded the Russian state media's reach into the English- speaking world, boosting funding to the TV channel and website RT and the recently-launched news platform Sputnik International.

Discussions about the new EU-funded channel are at a preliminary stage, and any project could take a long time to finalise.

"The conversation is about funding, and it's about content – this shouldn't be another propaganda tool," Rinkēvičs told BuzzFeed.

Earlier this week John Whittingdale, chair of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, told the Guardian that "we are being outgunned massively by the Russians and Chinese and that's something I've raised with the BBC. It is frightening the extent to which we are losing the information war."