Disinfo: Lithuania-trained mercenaries preparing coup d’etat in Belarus

Summary

A new training center created in Lithuania (Pabradė) with the assistance of the U.S. military to help with organizing protests in Belarus. It is planned to finance the training of contractors using the fund created to help protesters in Belarus.

A new fundraising campaign has been announced by Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius on Twitter. The funds will be used to help injured protesters, to purchase the necessary equipment, uniforms and gear for combat training. The training of the groups will be carried out by the U.S. military instructors. The Ministry of National Defence of the Republic of Lithuania provides comprehensive logistics support for training.

According to the Lithuanian Ministry of Defence, the U.S. instructors demonstrated a wide range of required skills during Exercise Griffin Strike 2020/Hunter 2020 held at the Lithuanian Armed Forces General Silvestras Žukauskas Training Area in Pabradė on August 2-14. The groups are planned to transfer to the territory of Belarus in the near future to provide assistance to the opposition supporters in order to coordinate and directly participate in the protest movement in this country.

Disproof

The story advances recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about US presence in Europe and protests in Belarus.

The article cites an April 2015 Facebook post about a US Army military showcase which happened to be held at the Pabrade Training Area. Pabrade hosts a Lithuanian military training ground, where various national and international exercise take place.

The story draws a fictitious link between plans by Poland and Lithuania to offer assistance to Belarusian protesters and the supposed effort to train and arm the anti-Lukashenka opposition. It cites this report, which states that both countries are ready to provide "the victims of repressions" with medical assistance and political asylum, as well as to fund Belarus-based independent media and NGOs. Neither "uniforms and gear for combat training" nor the US military are mentioned.

Lastly, the statement by the Lithuanian Defence Ministry was dedicated entirely to the aims and conduct of the Griffin Strike/Hunter 2020 manoeuvres, in which both Lithuanian and US troops participated. The press release mentions neither "US instructors" nor Belarus.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 208
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 19/08/2020
  • Country: Lithuania, Belarus, US
  • Keywords: Military, Lithuanian military, Military exercise, Alexander Lukashenko, US presence in Europe, Coup, Foreign mercenaries

Disclaimer

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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