Disinfo: CNN revealed CIA-led operation against Belarus using Wagner members


Russia’s FSB confirmed CNN information about the CIA participation in a cover operation in Belarus days before the presidential election. The report showed with total objectivity the CIA’s role in the planning and execution of this joint operation with Ukraine’s military intelligence agency GUR and security service SBU. The US channel, quoting its own sources, affirmed that the US funded and cooperated with the complex operation of Ukrainian agents that wanted to capture 33 Russian citizens. Ukraine made the group of Russians pass as a commando that aimed to destabilise Belarus. Kyiv’s authorities wanted the Belarusians to believe that the Russians were there to organise massive riots and deport them to Ukraine. According to the FSB spokesperson, the US goal in this operation was to damage relations between Russia and Belarus, and the operation was planned with this goal. The Ukrainians were a mere tool.


This is a deliberate distortion of the original CNN article, which described an alleged Ukrainian intelligence operation to lure several Wagner members to leave Russia in order to arrest them. Through the use of words like “confirmed” and “objectivity” and ambiguous writing that doesn’t clarify which sentences belong to the original article and which ones to the FSB spokesperson, this disinformation narrative aims to frame the alleged Ukrainian operation as a CIA-led plot aimed against Belarus and Russia.

As the CNN article explains thoroughly, the actual goal of the alleged sting was to trick Russian combatants who had taken part in the war in Eastern Ukraine and were considered war criminals by Kyiv to travel abroad, so they could be arrested and put on trial. The original plan was to have them travelling through Turkey, but the pandemic forced them to leave Russia via Minsk, which derailed the operation: when Belarusian security services discovered the presence of 33 Russian military contractors in a luxury resort outside Minsk, they proceeded to arrest them. The CNN article makes no mention of any plot to undermine Belarus in any way.

Contrary to the claim, CNN never stated that the CIA was the real driver of the operation and Ukrainians “a mere tool”, nor that its goal was to harm Russia-Belarus relations. The exact statement in the article is:

“According to the Ukrainian intelligence officials, the Ukrainian-led operation got US cash, technical assistance and advice from the CIA on how to draw the Russian mercenaries in. A senior US official told CNN those claims are ‘false.’ He indicated US intelligence was aware of the operation but denied any involvement. The official (...) suggested efforts to implicate US agencies may be an attempt to share, or even pass, blame for what was a high-risk Ukrainian operation that went wrong.”

Distorting articles in Western publications through the introduction of paragraphs that are not in the original texts is a frequent pro-Kremlin disinformation technique.

See other examples in our database, such as that BBC reporter aboard the HMS defender revealed that the incident in Russian waters was a deliberate act, that The National Interest explained why the US should side with Russia on Ukraine, that Foreign Policy explained why Washington needs a “Russian intervention”, that Newsweek magazine revealed how the US coup in Iran will end, or that British outlet The Guardian pointed to ruling elite as the real instigators of the racial crisis in the US, exposed how US Democrats were exploiting irregularities in the voting system and reported that the EU remained silent as the Europeans couldn’t buy food for the first time in 75 years.


  • Reported in: Issue 258
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 08/09/2021
  • Article language(s) Spanish
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, US
  • Keywords: CIA, Intelligence services, SBU, FSB, Foreign mercenaries, Ukraine
see more

Disinfo: Leaving Afghanistan, the US military shot at the crowd of Afghans, killing children

The Americans were leaving [Afghanistan], suffering casualties and shooting indiscriminately, even killing children. At the Kabul airport, they suddenly began firing at the crowd and then struck from the air without discerning who is who. So, what? And who is counting? The lives of Muslims do not matter.


The Americans have never shot deliberately at the crowd at the airport. On 16 August, there was an incident when a crowd of Afghans trying to leave the country broke into the airfield, interfering with takeoff. In this situation, the military fired several shots into the air.

At least five people were reported killed, although a witness said to Reuters it was unclear if they had been shot or killed in a stampede. A US official told Reuters two gunmen had been killed by US forces after they appeared to fire into the crowd.

Disinfo: Unlike the US, the USSR entered Afghanistan at the request of the legitimate government

Unlike the US in 2001, when the USSR entered Afghanistan in 1979, it did at the request of the Afghan government of the time with representation at the UN.


The claim is false, part of a long-term effort by the Kremlin to whitewash and instrumentalise the history of the country, and in this case specifically the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan.

Declassified US and Soviet documents show that the USSR invaded Afghanistan out of fear that president Hafizullah Amin, who had recently toppled and killed pro-Soviet president Nur Taraki, was considering switching sides towards the West. During a Politburo meeting on December 12, 1979, Soviet leadership decided to intervene in the power struggle in Afghanistan against Amin, first launching a covert operation to try to murder him. After efforts to poison Amin failed, Soviet leaders approved sending a military contingent to the country following an “appeal of the government of Afghanistan”. This alleged appeal, hoisted by the USSR leadership at the time, only emerged after the Soviet invasion had already begun and Amin and some close aides had already been killed by Soviet paratroopers. The appeal was already seen sceptically at the time and has been proven by historians to be a mere pretext for the invasion, launched after Soviet military team ‘Zenit’ had seized the radio-television centre in Kabul.

Disinfo: The West hinders Georgia’s normalisation of relations with Russia

The West does not allow Georgia to sit down and talk to Russia one-on-one. Such discussions would allow the [Georgia-Russia] relations to normalise and would start positive shifts in all directions. It would finally reveal the face of the West and prove that it was the West that hindered the settlement of relations during this time.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the belligerent West trying to encircle Russia. Consistent with a common pro-Kremlin narrative on “lost sovereignty” challenging Georgian statehood, as if Georgia is ruled by the West. Pro-Kremlin outlets often claim many countries, not under Moscow's control, became Western puppets.

Contrary to the claim, the West does not hinder Georgia from normalising relations with Russia. Georgia broke off diplomatic relations with Russia because the latter attacked Georgia in 2008, occupying 20% of the country and recognising the occupied regions of Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as independent states. Many international organisations condemned the further occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, see e.g. the CSCE statement here and the European Parliament's declaration.