Disinfo: NATO decided that the fight against coronavirus should be an information war

Summary

Instead of dealing with the coronavirus, NATO will fight fake news about it. NATO decided that the fight against coronavirus should be an information war. Apparently, by this logic, this virus should be scared and leave. The Alliance does not intend to undertake anything else and solve real problems.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation message about NATO and the coronavirus.

NATO is providing help worldwide during the pandemic. While NATO does not have stockpiles of medical supplies, its coordination centre can help with heavy transport, logistics and by matching donors with recipients. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, eleven countries have asked the NATO centre for help. Among others, the centre has facilitated the delivery of disinfectants from Ukraine, ventilators from Germany, protection equipment from Turkey and respirators from the Czech Republic. A shipment of thousands of surgical masks from Estonia to Italy and Spain is expected in the coming days.

The NATO centre operates on a 24/7 basis and coordinates requests from 30 NATO Allies and 40 partner countries. Previous assistance included fighting forest fires in Latvia and Israel, and responding to earthquakes, snowstorms and floods in Albania and Montenegro. The centre also provided relief to the United States following hurricane Katrina.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 194
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 20/04/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: EU, US
  • Keywords: coronavirus, Information war, NATO
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Brussels cannot offer any centralised plan on quarantine recovery

The end of quarantine in Europe exposed a new problem: Brussels is confused and cannot offer any centralised plan. There are no exact dates or detailed instructions in the so-called “roadmap” presented by the European Commission.

Disproof

This claim exploits the coronavirus pandemic to push a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the EU's alleged imminent collapse.

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. This narrative also aims to pit EU member states against each other in an attempt to undermine European solidarity: another recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation tactic.

Formation of OPCW Syria investigation team was illegal

Moscow does not recognise the [OPCW’s] investigation team because its formation was illegal and outside the framework of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Disproof

This is a recurring disinformation narrative aiming to discredit the OPCW. The OPCW is an independent inter-governmental international organisation with 193 member states - including Russia.

The Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) was formed in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) as the voting results for the decision upon which its formation was based on were counted at 82 votes in favour and 24 against. The formation of the IIT was therefore adopted in complete compliance with the relevant standards of the CWC.

The Pentagon creates biological laboratories around the world to develop “combat” viruses

The Pentagon creates biological laboratories in different parts of the world to develop “combat” viruses and drugs that neutralise viruses. Most of these laboratories are located in the territories of the post-Soviet republics along the perimeter of Russian borders. Outbreaks of serious infectious diseases among the population could be connected with these laboratories. One such laboratory is the so-called Richard Lugar Centre for Public Health in Georgia.

Disproof

This is a recurring conspiracy theory alleging, without evidence, that the United States develops biological weapons and has secret biological laboratories around the world. The disinformation claim also capitalises on the oft-recurring conspiracy theory about the Lugar Lab in Georgia, as well as laboratories in Ukraine. The implicit claim here is that the coronavirus may have originated in one of these labs as a biological weapon - one of the most common disinformation claims about the pandemic in pro-Kremlin media.

In fact, virology laboratories in Ukraine are involved in preventing the risks of complex diseases by pathogens and, together with other similar projects, counteracting bioterrorism. Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Georgia officially addressed the conspiracy theories behind the Richard Lugar Centre as "nonsense and typical of Russian misinformation and propaganda campaigns." The Richard Lugar Centre for Public Health Research is a facility of the National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), which became operational in August 2013. It is a top-tiered institution in NCDC’s laboratory network and serves as a reference laboratory for Georgia’s public health system. Read more about the disinformation campaign surrounding the Lugar Laboratory on Myth Detector.