Disinfo: Anti-Russian position helped NATO countries temporarily freeze a drift in different directions

Summary
A split between western European countries and more recent EU member states occurred right after the EU and NATO expansion. Pro-US eastern European and Baltic states eagerly take part in American projects which heighten tension in relations with Russia, whereas founding EU countries show greater restraint. For a short period of time NATO countries united around anti-Russian position after Ukrainian coup d’etat, but currently, are drifting apart again.

 

Disproof

This publication is one of many disinformation cases about the US military presence in Europe. It is consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin narratives about aggressive, anti-Russian Western policies and a coup d'etat in Ukraine. It groundlessly alleges that NATO countries are kept together only thanks to consolidation around their anti-Russian positions.

There was no coup d’état in Ukraine in 2014. The spontaneous onset of the Euromaidan protests was a reaction by numerous segments of the Ukrainian population to former President Yanukovych’s violent dispersal of peaceful student protests against his sudden decision to withdraw from the Association Agreement with the European Union in November 2013. See the full debunk here.

Read earlier disinformation cases alleging that the US will easily betray the Baltic states and hand them over to Russia, that the US does not care about the Baltic states and wants Russia to buy them, and that the Pentagon admits that the US will be unable to protect Poland from a Russian invasion.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue175
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 15/11/2019
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Latvia, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, US
  • Keywords: Anti-Russian, US presence in Europe, Coup, NATO, Baltic states

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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White Helmets was created by Western security bodies and has connections with terrorists

White Helmets was set up in 2013 by a former UK’s army officer James Le Mesurier. In fact it was created by Western countries’ security bodies. The organization received Western financial assistance and declared protection of peaceful population in the military action zones as its aim, but is blamed by the Syrian authorities in connections with extremists and hostile propaganda. It is said that some public videos capture Al-Qaeda members who beheaded people and ate killed soldier’s heart as White Helmets participants and the organization is a wing of Al-Nusra terrorist group.

Russian MFA called White Helmets’  activities us an element of information campaign to discredit Syrian authorities. Russia also blamed White Helmets for the provocation which gave the West a reason to accuse Damask for using chemical weapons and to attack the governmental military forces. Russian side also stated that James Le Mesurier was a MI6 officer who was seen in many conflicts around the world, including in Kosovo and the Near East.

Disproof

This publication is an illustrative example of many disinformation and propagandistic claims about the White Helmets. Pro-Kremlin media routinely accuse the White Helmets of “working for terrorists” and giving biased information to the Western media. No evidence is given to support these claims.

The "White Helmets" movement originated in Syria in 2012. The organisation - which is made up of 3,400 volunteers including teachers, engineers, tailors and firefighters - states that it has no affiliation to any political or military actor and is committed to render services to anyone in need. Volunteers save people from the rubble after bombings, despite the danger of dying themselves as a result of repeated air strikes.

European countries glorify fascism, but Baltic States are worse

In several European countries, a glorification of fascism is going on. But the worst is what is happening in the Baltic countries. The nationalists seized power in the Baltic States after the collapse of the USSR. As a result, they do everything to forget the best things that connected the people of Russia and the Baltic countries. The friendship, cooperation, prosperity, the centuries-old defence against attacks from aggressors. Instead, they revive those, who together with the Germans, killed their own citizens in the camps.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative attempting to link the Baltic countries with Nazism. This message is part of the Kremlin’s policy of historical revisionism. It tries to promote the idea that there was no Soviet occupation of the Baltic states, portraying Russia and the Soviet Union as the only guarantor of security in the Baltic States and that the Baltic States benefited from the Molotov- Ribbentrop pact.

The USSR occupied the Baltic States two times, firstly in 1940, under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, then in 1944. Contrary to the claims of the pro-Kremlin media, the re-capturing of the Baltic States did not bring freedom and prosperity, but Soviet repressions and occupation, which lasted for 50 years. The estimated war and occupation deaths are at 90,000 in Estonia, 180,000 in Latvia and 250,000 in Lithuania. Furthermore, it has been estimated that between 1946 and 1953, deportations and guerrilla deaths reached 95,000 in Estonia,125,000 in Latvia and 310,000 in Lithuania.

Twitter campaign against Evo Morales may be run by the CIA

The same day of the coup against Evo Morales, thousands of automatised Twitter accounts with none, or just one follower, started promoting the hashtag #BoliviaNoHayGolpe (#BoliviaThereIsNoCoup). The hashtag wasn’t generated in a region with a strong Bolivian community but in the US state of Virginia, home of the CIA, which may point to its involvement.

Disproof

Though the existence of automatised bots and false accounts involved in the situation in Bolivia has been proven, the second part of the story is not true. The whole report is based on a tweet by US journalist Alan MacLeod, who pointed out that the hashtag #BoliviaNoHayGolpe (#BoliviaThereIsNoCoup) was "trending in Virginia, home of the CIA". But while he said in a subsequent tweet that there is a strong Bolivian community living in Arlington (indeed, one of the biggest in the US), which may easily explain the Twitter trend, RT ignored it and decided instead to push these allegations to promote its narrative of a US-backed coup in Bolivia. It is highly unlikely that a covert campaign carried out by a professional intelligence service could be so easily traced to its geographical origin

The story also falls within the broader pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative attempting to deny the existence of genuine grass-root protests, portraying them as foreign-led efforts and fake colour revolutions. You can see other examples of disinformation cases such as a US hybrid war against Bolivia, the recruitment of its security services or the application in the country of the lessons learnt in Venezuela.