Disinfo: Biden copied sanctions on Russia from his predecessors, based on ridiculous claims of interference

Summary

Biden’s White House just approved a new round of sanctions against Russia that is practically a copy of those implemented by Donald Trump and Barack Obama, both in the reasons argued and in the quantity and quality of evidences. Of course, given that these are old sanctions with a new envelope, there had to be some punishment for the alleged Russian interference in the US 2020 elections, allegedly to favour Donald Trump. The same Donald Trump that for four years approved several packages of sanctions against Russia, by the way. And as in 2016, the alleged interference strategy would have been based on tiny and unknown websites who have their own 15 minutes of glory only when they are mentioned by the White House press conferences.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about sanctions and Russia as innocent of any misdeed.

This disinformation message implies that, given that Donald Trump as US president also imposed sanctions against Russia, and because the recent round of sanctions singled out some relatively unknown Russian outlets such as SouthFront, NewsFront, InfoRos and the Strategic Culture Foundation, the claim that Russia interfered in the 2020 US election to support Donald Trump is ridiculous.

However, the US Treasury Department stated that Russian Intelligence Services “operate a network of websites that obscure their Russian origin to appeal to Western audiences”, including those mentioned above, that “focus on divisive issues in the United States, denigrate U.S. political candidates, and disseminate false and misleading information”, and took part in a coordinated effort to interfere in recent US elections. Contrary to the claim, those outlets weren’t irrelevant and, according to US state researchers and independent experts, they had a significant impact in increasing polarisation in the US prior to both the 2016 and the 2020 elections. Relevant key players in this pro-Kremlin disinformation strategy such as Konstantin Kilimnik, Alexei Gromov and Yevgeni Prigozhin’s network have also been targeted by this round of sanctions.

Pro-Kremlin disinformation efforts to promote Donald Trump both in 2016 and 2020 have been well documented. See this and this for further debunking.

See other examples of these disinformation narratives in our database, such as claims that the West is using Navalny’s case as a pretext for sanctions; that the West needs a cause to sanction Russia and if there isn’t one, they will invent it; that Washington’s frequent accusations about Russian interference in US political processes are all unfounded; that the West invented Navalny’s poisoning to uphold the myth of an aggressive Russia; or that sanctions are a childish reaction of the EU.

This disinformation message appeared in the same TV programme as the claims that “No evidence of Russian involvement in the SolarWinds hacking, US sanctions only want to cripple Russian tech competitors” and that “Russia can’t be helping the Taliban; its experiences in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Syria prove that it is allergic to jihadists”