Disinfo: Foreign Policy magazine proposed two scenarios to overthrow Lukashenko

Summary

European countries need to take control of the situation in Belarus. US magazine Foreign Policy suggests that the EU will first have to actively fill the information space with statements against Lukashenko. For example, it could be recommended to accuse him of repression or electoral fraud, at the same time that a “double approach” is promoted: Europe will announce that it is ready to provide material support to Belarus during the so-called “transition period”, and to help individual political forces inside the country that “want to help the process”. The goal is to carry out a “silent” coup in the frame of the election in Belarus. The publication admits that this scenario is unlikely, so they offer an alternative. If Lukashenko refuses to deliver the government voluntarily to a pro-Western opposition successor, he will face “hard moderation measures” in the form of colossal pressuring sanctions. However, in its attempts to overthrow Lukashenko, the article says, the European Union should take into account past mistakes. Six years ago, while Brussels was negotiating free trade with Kyiv, power-hungry Ukrainian oligarchs overthrew Viktor Yanukovych, surprising the EU, causing an armed conflict and effectively interrupting the diplomatic and constructive process of rapprochement with Europe.

Disproof

Contrary to the claim, none of those statements are in the original Foreign Policy article, whose content is deliberately distorted to support a set of recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives, framing the West as conspiring to take control in Belarus through a colour revolution. Actually, the FP article calls for European strategic leadership during the Belarus crisis, strongly supporting free and fair elections in the country without expanding EU or NATO membership to Minsk, following the same model as applied during Armenia’s protests in 2018. It calls for Europeans to “learn the lessons of Ukraine and stick to a firm public script of values and rule of law”, and affirms that EU leaders should make clear “to Moscow that any dramatic erosion of Belarusian sovereignty would be met by sanctions”. This is radically different from calling for president Alexander Lukashenko’s overthrow and setting the scenarios to do it. The following cases are examples from our database where distorted quotes have been omitted to serious publications: pro-Kremlin media claimed that British outlet The Guardian pointed to the ruling elite as the real instigators of the racial crisis in the US or reported that the EU remained silent as Europeans couldn’t buy food for the first time in 75 years. The pro-Kremlin media also claimed that Newsweek magazine explained how a US coup in Iran will end; that The Guardian claimed that Soros’ structures saw an opportunity in the coronavirus pandemic to attack the “bad guys”; or that the US special envoy for Syria admitted that Washington’s goal was to defend terrorists from Russian attacks.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 208
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 08/08/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Spanish
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: EU, US, Belarus
  • Keywords: European Union, Alexander Lukashenko, Colour revolutions

Belarus

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Kyiv does not issue orders to the army to fulfil the Minsk agreements

The Ukrainian Armed Forces are not going to fulfil the Minsk agreements, since there are no orders from Kyiv.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on the war in Ukraine, alleging that Ukraine does not want to fulfil the Minsk agreements. The claim alleges that the Ukrainian authorities did not order the troops on the frontline in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts to fulfil the truce agreed recently in the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) in Minsk. On the contrary, the Commander of the Joint Force Operation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine gave the order to troops to comply with the ceasefire. The Ministry of Defence of Ukraine stated that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are ready to comply with the agreement that establishes the ceasefire regime. "The Ministry of Defence of Ukraine emphasises that a full and comprehensive ceasefire will be implemented only if the principles of the agreement are observed, which was recorded with the participation of OSCE representatives," an official announcement states. Earlier, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy mentioned that the full and comprehensive ceasefire has to be achieved and that Ukraine will comply with the decisions of the TCG. See earlier disinformation cases alleging that chairman of the Verkhovna Rada admitted that Kyiv will not implement the Minsk agreements, that the Normandy format will cease to exist because Ukraine is unwilling to implement Minsk agreements, that Ukraine is trying to compromise and undermine the Minsk agreements and that Ukraine refuses to observe a truce in Donbas.

For the EU, Ukraine is only a reservoir of materials and cheap labor

Ukraine is a reservoir of raw materials and cheap labour for the European Union. Besides, the country has finally turned into a market where the EU sells its lowest quality goods.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on EU-Ukrainian relations. Ukraine is neither a reservoir of raw materials, cheap labour for the EU nor a market for low quality goods. The EU has stated, on many occasions, that Ukraine is a priority partner for the EU. It supports Ukraine in ensuring a stable, prosperous and democratic future for its citizens and is unwavering in its support for Ukraine’s independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty. The Association Agreement (AA), including its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) signed in 2014, is the main tool for bringing Ukraine and the EU closer together, promoting deeper political ties, stronger economic links and respect for common values. Since 2014, the EU and the Financial Institutions have mobilised more than €15 billion in grants and loans to support the reform process, with strong conditionality on continued progress. Since 23 April 2014, Ukraine benefits from the EU Autonomous trade preferences (ATP) which were introduced by the Regulation (EU) No 374/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 as an element of a broad package of the EU economic and financial support of Ukraine. The above-mentioned preferences eliminate EU import duties on 94.7% of industrial goods and 83.4% of agricultural goods and foodstuff originating in Ukraine. It also foresees the application of the duty-free tariff quotas towards a number of agricultural products. See other disinformation cases in our database relating to the statehood of Ukraine: that the West controls the Ukrainian economy and pumps out its resources, that the EU Association Agreement made Ukraine a colony of the EU, that Ukraine is a fake country and Ukrainian ideology was created to split the Russian nation, and that Ukraine is a collapsing, degrading state with no sovereignty and rule of law.

The West is manipulating Ukrainian secret service to pit Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians against each other

[The detention of 33 Russian citizens in Belarus] is a wake up call for Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, to stop and think about what happens when we are played off against each other. When secret services of Ukraine are exploited [by the West]. […] I hope that Belarus will draw right conclusions, that regardless of the fact that Ukrainians are brothers, but they are also puppets in the hands of CIA and the rest of Russophobes.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory. The disinformation message appeared in relation to the detention of 33 Russian citizens by the Belarusian authorities, who are alleged to be members of Wagner group, a private Russian military company. Ukraine has requested the extradition of a number of detainees over suspicions that they have participated in hostilities in East Ukraine. There is no reliable evidence to suggest that Ukrainian secret services act under the command of the United States or were involved in the detention of the members of the Russian private military company Wagner in Minsk. The claim presented during the TV broadcast is based on reporting of the Russian outlet "Komsamolskaya Pravda", which claims to have uncovered the plot of Ukrainian secret services behind the detention of Russian citizens. However the independent Russian investigative site the Insider has debunked the reporting of Komsamolskaya Pravda. The disinformation message also reinforces a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about lost sovereignty, suggesting that the West is aiming to sow discord between Russia and its neighbors. See earlier related disinformation cases: US agents attempt to overthrow Lukashenka along the Ukrainian scenario; the US wishes to destabilize Belarus and provoke a war; the West sows animosity towards Russians among little Russians. Updated 21 August 2020: clarified language in the third paragraph of the debunk.

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