Disinfo: European countries did not respond to the problems in Italy


The COVID-19 pandemic proved to be an insurmountable test for the EU on the strength of political and economic unity. This is already obvious. And the point here is not only how the community of European countries reacted to the problems in Italy. Rather, the EU did NOT respond, preferring to simply close the internal borders and even take medicine and medical equipment that could save thousands of human lives in Milan or Bergamo.


This claim exploits the coronavirus pandemic to push a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the EU's alleged imminent collapse and a speculative claim about "abandoned Italy" claiming that the EU left Italy alone to fight coronavirus. 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. 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 the 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 EU also created the first-ever stockpile of medical equipment. Read more on EU response to the COVID-19 outbreak here and here. As for Italy, it was not left alone, there are numerous examples of solidarity among the EU and the individual Member States. 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. On March 18th, the European Union also received a Chinese aid package, including masks and 50,000 testing kits that were fully allocated to Italy, as Rome faced the most urgent needs among member states in the coronavirus crisis. On March 13th, the European Union proposed a Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, envisaging EUR 835 million for Italy. On March 26th, the European Parliament unanimously approved the initiative. Furthermore, the European Central Bank announced a 750 billion euro ($820 billion) asset purchase programme in an effort to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, as the death toll in Europe continues to rise. As part of the programme, investors will purchase Italian securities to help the country counter the serious risks of the coronavirus. Read similar cases claiming that the EU has collapsed as a result of the pandemic that the coronavirus epidemic marks the beginning of an era of crisis for pan-European identity and solidarity and that the COVID outbreak means the end of Europe.


  • Reported in: Issue 194
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 21/04/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: EU, Italy
  • Keywords: coronavirus, Euro-scepticism, EU disintegration


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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WHO may be involved in a plot to reduce global population

Within the framework of “Operation COVID-19”, WHO is involved with vaccines (or rather, chemical weapons), which should reduce the population. […] The Republic of Armenia is not a country where the population can be reduced. Armenia should immediately suspend its WHO membership and abandon any “WHO-Bill Gates” programmes. Armenia must reject any vaccination programmes against COVID-19.


An unfounded conspiracy theory, about WHO, Bill Gates and coronavirus, sharing a recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative about "secret elites" controlling world leaders and part of the anti-vax movement. Vaccine hesitancy is identified by WHO as one of the top ten global health threats of 2019. There is an overwhelming scientific consensus about the safety and efficacy of vaccines. See similar cases claming that Bill Gates and Co aspire to a reduction in population, that survivors will be poisoned with vaccines, or Covid-19 will allow total control of the population through forced vaccination and chips.

The French Government presents the migrant youth as its “scapegoat” covering the failure to cope with the epidemic

In order to understand the so-called “riots”, it is necessary to look at the medieval history of Europe, where epidemics always resulted in a search for a scapegoat and usual pogroms against Jews. It is probably a tradition for the European authorities to blame others for their failure to cope with epidemics. This time, all other countries are handling the Coronavirus situation better than France. That is why it is important to find a scapegoat, which will be blamed for the catastrophic statistics. From the very beginning of the quarantine, the working districts of Paris and other large French cities have become this “scapegoat”. Without any exaggeration, this narrative has a racist character – the media regularly attack the African youths accusing them of disrespecting the quarantine. This narrative is imposed by the French Government on purpose – the French middle class eagerly supports it.


The message that the French Government purposefully presents migrant youths as its “scapegoat” covering the alleged failure to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic is a conspiracy theory. The ongoing protests in the northern suburbs of Paris are caused by several complex reasons such as the challenging socio-economic situation of migrants and minorities, contradictions with police and social inequality. See other disinformation cases linked to Yellow Vests protests in France. The analysis of the Russian disinformation media's non-stop coverage of Yellow vests and also of the manipulated social media discussions is presented here.

Baltic states are turned into large military training ground

Moscow does not build military bases near the US borders, for example, in Mexico. And has the right to expect a similar peace from Washington. However, in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, there are thousands of foreign troops, including American ones. Baltic countries are turned into one large training ground and a military springboard.

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative claiming that the Baltic states are under the US and/or NATO control. This narrative aims at undermining the sovereignty of the Baltic States. A related recurring pro-Kremlin narrative claims that NATO is a tool used by the US to control the policies of European states. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia made a sovereign decision to become part of NATO, joining on the 29th of March 2004. NATO is a political and military alliance, and NATO member states make sovereign decisions about their own security. NATO and US military presence in these states is possible only on the basis of the clear consent of the hosting nation. NATO decisions are made by consensus, after discussion and consultation among member countries. Lost sovereignty is one of the most common pro-Kremlin propaganda narratives. Pro-Kremlin disinformation sources like to claim that certain countries are no longer truly sovereign. Read here similar cases claiming that Lithuania is temporarily NATO-occupied territory ruled by non-Lithuanians, that Eastern European countries in NATO are under Washington’s political and military control, that the US views the Baltic states not as independent countries but as a NATO springboard for conducting a military attack against Belarus and Russia, and that the Baltic states are dying because they chose not to be with Russia, that Baltic states are under NATO occupation.