Disinfo: Russia saves Europe

Summary

The old elites of Europe were saying that Russian aggression on the continent was nothing more than a “scorched earth policy”. Today they are watching stunned as real assistance is given to the Italian people during an extremely difficult period. Moscow offered huge quantities of decontamination units and medical gear. The images from Italy have alerted other European governments about the possible need to resort to Russia and even in Greece various officials have floated the idea for asking Russian assistance. Some insist that Greece’s geopolitical family is the EU and NATO, but the policies of Germany during the debt crisis or the stance of the United States vis-a-vis Turkey have shown that its partners are not always fair.

Disproof

The European Union (EU) has not abandoned its member states. In the case of Italy, the European Commission approved a 50 million euros Italian scheme for the production and supply of medical equipment in the fight against coronavirus and also an Italian state guarantee supporting a debt moratorium from banks to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Additionally and as far as it concerns Greece, two cases stand out. First, the European Central Bank (ECB) decided to include Greek bonds in its new Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program (PEPP) which allows for lower borrowing costs for the Hellenic Republic. Second, the European Commission announced on 3 April the approval of a 2 billion euros Greek aid scheme to support the Greek economy in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. As far as NATO is concerned, the Alliance's Foreign Ministers have directed NATO’s top commander, General Wolters, to coordinate the necessary military support to combat the coronavirus crisis. For more information on the EU's coordination response to the coronavirus outbreak, a long list of initiatives can be found here. More cases claiming that only Russia helped Italy during the coronavirus crisis can be found here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 191
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 28/03/2020
  • Language/target audience: Greek
  • Country: Italy, Greece, Germany
  • Keywords: coronavirus, Euro-scepticism, EU disintegration, NATO

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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EU has buried its plans to expand to Moldova and Ukraine, but the current crisis might kill the Union

The European Union stopped granting work visas to the citizens of Moldova and Ukraine, already before the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, as the crisis with Syrian migrants emerged. The Union buried its plans to expand towards the East.

And in light of the grinding global economic crisis that is now raging the world, an official death certificate of this union may likely be issued.

Disproof

This claim exploits the coronavirus pandemic to push a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the EU's alleged imminent collapse. There is no evidence to support the doomsday claim that the pandemic is resulting in the death or obsolescence of the EU.

Although Ukraine is not part of the European Union, the country has signed an Association Agreement with the EU. Additionally, Ukrainian citizens were granted visa-free travel to the Schengen Area in 2017, for travel of up to 90 days within any 180-day period. While the business and leisure trips are both covered, Ukraine ETIAS does not include permission to work in the EU and a separate permit must be obtained, on which policies vary between Schengen member countries, and is open for everyone to apply.

Dictatorships are better at curbing Coronavirus

The world is learning from the so-called Chinese dictatorship in curbing this epidemic (Coronavirus), and all countries of the world are saying “Learn from China”.

Dictatorship and communism have proven their worth in curbing this danger to humanity.

Disproof

The claim about the superiority of political authoritarianism and isolationist “closed societies” in preventing and controlling epidemics does not reflect reality.

Authoritarian regimes, which tend to control and manipulate information and to limit the freedom of doctors and scientists to engage in international cooperation, are often an obstacle to the timely detection and containment of epidemic outbreaks.

Russia is helping countries while Brussels and NATO stay indifferent

Russia responded to Italy’s request for medical assistance to fight the coronavirus, as it believes that the pandemic can be battled only if all countries resort to cooperation and coordination. This proved to be a major difference compared to the indifference of Brussels and the racist ban imposed by Berlin to export medical gear to other EU member states. Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was very brave to ask help from the Kremlin and Moscow responded in 24 hours. At the same time, Italy asked help from the United States but it received no response, even medical supplies from NATO’s bases in the country were not released. Is anyone in Greece thinking to do the same and approach Russia or will the Greek authorities prefer to stay with their partners and allies?

Disproof

This claim exploits the coronavirus pandemic to push a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the EU's alleged imminent collapse. One of the main pro-Kremlin narratives relating to the pandemic is that the EU is failing to cope with the COVID-19 crisis and, as a result, is disintegrating, together with the border-free Schengen area. In particular, this narrative of failure and lack of EU solidarity is trending after the delivery of Russian aid to Italy. This narrative also aims to pit EU member states against each other in an attempt to undermine European solidarity, another recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation tactic. There is no evidence to support the claim that the pandemic is resulting in the death or obsolescence of the EU. The European Commission is coordinating a common European response to the COVID-19 crisis and is supporting Member States in tackling the pandemic and in mitigating its economic consequences. To cushion the blow to people’s livelihoods and the economy, the European Commission has adopted a comprehensive economic response to the outbreak, applied the full flexibility of the EU's fiscal rules, has revised its State Aid rules and proposed to set up a EUR 37 billion Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative to provide liquidity to small businesses and the health care sector. The Commission is further increasing its response by proposing to set up a €100 billion solidarity instrument to help workers keep their incomes and businesses stay afloat, called SURE. It is also proposing to redirect all available structural funds to the response to the coronavirus. To support scientific research into COVID-19, the European Commission earmarked 47,5 million EUR for shortlisted research projects that can improve epidemiology and public health, including preparedness and response to outbreaks. The EU also created the first ever stockpile of medical equipment. EU Member States are helping each other in this crisis; for example, German hospitals have offered to treat critical coronavirus patients from France as well as taking in patients from Italy and the Czech Republic has sent masks to Italy. The European Union (EU) and its member states have since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis to support each other and show solidarity in various sectors. Large amounts of financial, medical and personal assistance have been put in place to aid all EU member states. Furthermore, the EU is working 24/7 to stockpile and manage distribution of vital medical equipment, while its member states are coordinating to take care of different things and help each other. More about the EU's response can be read here and here. NATO is also doing its part to help its member states and the Alliance's Foreign Ministers agreed to speed up the coordination to combat the coronavirus crisis More on the targeted EU response to support partner countries' efforts in tackling the coronavirus pandemic here.