Disinfo: Borrell couldn’t criticise Russia because Europe needs Sputnik V

Summary

Josep Borrell arrived in Russia with an agenda full of criticism but could get very little, because he also had a request for cooperation. Despite being trade partners, sanctions are not lifted, and despite Brussels’ verbal and non-verbal attacks against Moscow, there is now a EuropeanFebruary 2021 need on the table: the Sputnik V vaccine, which was so criticised, which was mocked, but which seems about to enter EU territory. The same usual false accusations are being repeated but without taking any step forward. The EU smears Russia but softens its criticism when it is convenient. How can you ask for cooperation from someone who you accused of committing atrocities, you are sanctioning and punishing and insulting and smearing? How is it possible that you accuse the country of spreading fake news when your media are smearing the country and its vaccine? How can they continue penalising Moscow with sanctions and now you come and want these doses to be sold to you?

Disproof

The claim that the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, softened criticism on Russia because the EU allegedly needs the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine is false. Borrell’s visit to Moscow was an attempt:

“to test, through principled diplomacy, whether the Russian government was interested in addressing differences and reversing the negative trend in [Russia-EU] relations”

as he explained in his personal blog. Though the visit has been controversial and strongly criticised by some EU members, Borrell conveyed the European Union’s position on matters of [its] concern to his Russian counterparts: human rights, political freedoms and the situation of Mr [Alexei] Navalny. The Russian response was a shameless attempt to deflect attention from Russia’s violations of international obligations and its own laws, and a barrage of distorted facts, lies and baseless fabrications.

It is also false that the EU smears Russia but softens its criticism when it is convenient, much less due to the Sputnik V vaccine. Russian war crimes in Syria as, for example, bombing hospitals and civilian facilities, have been well documented, as has the Russian state strategy of using disinformation. Calling them out is not:

smearing and insulting Russia

but legitimate criticism. Recurrent claims about an alleged Western campaign against the Sputnik V vaccine are also baseless. In fact, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen explained on February 17, 2021 that Russia had not reached out to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for market authorisation of the Sputnik V, for which it would have to submit the whole data set and go through the complete scrutiny process like any other vaccine. Therefore, the perspective of the Sputnik V being authorised by EU regulators remains very remote yet.

See other examples of these disinformation narratives in our database, such as claims that Josep Borrell’s visit to Moscow, in February 2021, was an excuse for a new round of the sanctions’ war with Russia; that Borrell knows that Navalny was not poisoned but lies about it; that Borrell doesn’t have a freedom to choose an independent political course; that UN allegations of Russian war crimes in Syria are unfounded and biased; or that the West is financing a disinformation campaign against the Russian vaccine Sputnik V.

This disinformation message appeared in the same TV programme as the claims that “Western criticism of Russia is due to Russophobia” and that “Western criticism of the Navalny case is interference; Russia doesn’t mess with other countries’ affairs”.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 232
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 05/02/2021
  • Outlet language(s) Spanish, Castilian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: EU, Russia
  • Keywords: Josep Borrell, Sputnik V, Diplomacy with Russia, Anti-Russian
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There is no repression in Russia

The Kremlin denies that there is repression in Russia, only police measures against those who break the law in unauthorised protests. During pro-Navalny demonstrations, arrests were made after the policemen were attacked by some violent elements.

Disproof

The claim is false. Although some participants in the pro-Navalny protests in Moscow in January 2021 were violent, there is evidence that the police acted with excessive force against largely peaceful demonstrators. The massive number of arrests (around 5,000 on the first week of protests in 85 cities) shows that not only those who acted violently were arrested. Also, there was a preemptive crackdown on activists and students ahead of the first demonstration.

These actions have been defined by Amnesty International as an attempt to silence criticism, and according to this organisation’s country profile, those attempting to exercise the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly faced reprisals, ranging from harassment to police ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest, heavy fines and in some cases criminal prosecution and imprisonment. A similar assessment is found in the Russian chapter of the Human Rights Watch World Report 2021.

Navalny doesn't reveal his sources unlike of Assange and Snowden

Unlike Assange and Snowden, Alexey Navanly doesn’t reveal the sources of his documents.

Disproof

Disinformation campaign to discredit Alexey Navalny claiming that he does make serious investigations or provides questionable pieces of evidence.

The FBK organisation (Foundation for Combating Corruption) is a Russian non-profit organisation based in Moscow established in 2011 by activist and politician Alexei Navalny. Its main goal is to investigate and to expose corruption cases among high-ranking Russian government officials.

NATO and the EU want to contain and destabilise Russia through Navalny and the “opposition”

The statements of NATO and EU countries about the situation regarding Alexei Navalny is a coordinated information campaign that represents a global attempt to contain Russia and interfere in its internal affairs.

Disproof

Recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Alexei Navalny , aiming to frame criticism of his arrest and the crackdown on protests as foreign interference.

Contrary to the claim, this criticism is not “a global attempt to contain Russia” but a legitimate concern about human rights and the rule of law in this country. The European Union condemned the arrest of Alexei Navalny and demanded his immediate release. In 2019 the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the charges against Alexei Navalny are politically motivated and arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable. As a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights, Russia undertook to secure a number of fundamental rights and freedoms to everyone within its jurisdiction.