Disinfo: NATO exercises in Estonia are an unfriendly message addressed to Russia

Summary

Any NATO exercise is a message in military language addressed to certain countries, in this case, an unfriendly message addressed to Russia. The military exercises in Estonia are provocative and dangerous. NATO is working on a land war scenario. On the eastern borders of the Alliance, a land war can only be waged with Russia, no one else.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about NATO allegedly pursuing a belligerent and hostile agenda against Russia. Every nation has the right to conduct exercises, but it is important that they are conducted transparently and in line with international obligations. NATO is a defensive alliance, whose purpose is to protect its member states. During the Warsaw summit in July 2016, NATO has made it clear that "The Alliance does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia". NATO's exercises and military deployments in the Baltic states are not directed against Russia – or any other country. NATO has reached out to Russia consistently, transparently and publicly over the past 29 years. The claim that NATO is encircling Russia is one of the myths about NATO. Russia's land border is just over 20,000 kilometres long. Of that, less than one-sixteenth (1,215 kilometres), is shared with NATO members. Russia has land borders with 14 countries. Only five of them are NATO members. Russia has military bases or soldiers in three of the EU's Eastern neighbourhood countries, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, without the consent of their governments. See other examples of disinformation about NATO in our database, such as its never-ending provocations, the Alliance's permanent targeting of Russia and Belarus, its role as a US subjugation tool for other countries and its unreliability to defend its members, that the EU is encircling Russia and creating additional conflict zones, while NATO exploits non-existent “Russian threat” to increase its presence close to Russian borders.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 210
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 01/09/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Russia, Baltic states, Estonia
  • Keywords: Encircling Russia, Military exercise, NATO, Baltic states

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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Merkel lied about Navalny’s poisoning

A wiretapped call between Berlin and Warsaw showed that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s statements about Alexei Navalny were false.

Disproof

This is an effort to cast a shadow of doubt on the tests conducted in Germany that led Chancellor Angela Merkel to say that Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was poisoned by a Novichok type nerve agent. However, no solid proof is given against Merkel's statements. There was only an alleged conversation between some Mike and Nick published on 4 September by the Belarusian security services. The conversation was made public with a Russian voice-over on Friday on Belarusian state TV that has provoked an avalanche of jokes and laughter on Russian and Belarusian social media. The German government dismissed Aleksander Lukashenko's statement as being untrue. An official representative of the German government told RBC: “Of course, the statement of Aleksander Lukashenko does not correspond to reality.” The Polish Foreign Ministry also rejected reports by the Belarusian authorities about an alleged telephone conversation between subscribers in Warsaw and Berlin regarding the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. In response to an inquiry by the Russian TASS agency, the Polish Foreign Ministry stated on September 7:" “We refute the Belarusian reports about the alleged telephone conversation on the Warsaw-Berlin line, in which the authorities of the two countries allegedly admitted that Alexei Navalny was not poisoned." This resembles a recurring pattern of pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets, which opt to dismiss a compelling evidence by presenting conspiracy theories - see more on the MH17 case, the Skripal case or the Litvinenko Murder. The test proving Navalny's poisoning was conducted in a special German military lab, according to the government spokesman Steffen Seibert. Navalny was certainly not suffering from low blood sugar, as the Russian doctors who first treated his mysterious illness had claimed, or even a standard detective-novel poison like arsenic or cyanide. It was something far more dangerous, requiring the attention of the Army’s chemical weapons specialists.

The West exploits Navalny’s case to impose sanctions on Russia

The case of the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is exploited by the West to impose sanctions against Moscow. Russia is unnecessarily and falsely accused. If that was the goal, the Russian state had many ways to get rid of Navalny. It could have orchestrated a delayed hospitalisation or send a killer to finish the job at the Omsk clinic. It could have also used a more effective poison or just set up an accident, instead of risking failure.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on Navalny poisoning. A prominent Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny fell ill during a flight from Siberia to Moscow on the 20th of August. Initially hospitalized in Omsk, at the request of his family he was transferred to Charité hospital in Berlin. Clinical findings at the Charité hospital indicated that Navalny was poisoned with a substance from the group of cholinesterase inhibitors. Subsequent toxicological tests provided unequivocal evidence of a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group in the blood samples of Alexei Navalny. The use of multiple and simultaneous versions about an event involving questionable actions by the Russian government or its allies, in order to confound citizens about the actual truth, is a recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation strategy, already seen in the cases of the MH17 downing, the illegal annexation of Crimea, the murder attempt against Sergei and Yulia Skripal or chemical attacks in Syria. See an earlier disinformation case alleging that the reports of the Western media on Skripal poisoning are propaganda to justify sanctions against Russia.

Navalny has, apart from a hangover, no symptoms of poisoning

Navalny has, apart from a hangover, no symptoms of poisoning. It looks like the German authorities will have to explain to the Russian authorities how the stable patient Navalny was “poisoned”.

Disproof

An unsupported statement that Navalny was not poisoned at all. The claims are also in stark contrast to the official statements of the German government, which clearly speak of Navalny's poisoning by the military-grade chemical nerve agent Novichok.

"The Berlin Charité Hospital has commissioned specialised toxicologists from the German Bundeswehr to examine various samples from Mr. Navalny. The special laboratory of the German Bundeswehr has delivered a clear result: Alexei Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group. This poison can be detected without a doubt in the samples."

Toxicologists have concluded that Russian dissident and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a military-grade chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group. The German government condemned the attack in the strongest possible terms, as did EU officials and leaders of the EU member states: France, Italy, Estonia; all demanding that Russian authorities explain how an illegal weapon of mass destruction has been used against an opposition activist in Russia. Earlier, Navalny was treated in a hospital in Omsk but was later transferred to the Berlin Charité hospital. Only after hours of back and forth did the physicians in Omsk drop their objections to transport to Germany. The Omsk health officials claimed Navalny had tested negative for cholinesterase inhibitors. The EU strongly condemned what seems to have been an attempt on Mr Navalny’s life. See related EUvsDisinfo news and analysis “The German Statement Follows Goebbel’s Laws on Propaganda” The Kremlin, the Navalny Case and the Art of Denial" as well as other disinformation messages blaming the West for Navalny's condition, and alleging that only alcohol and caffeine was found in Navalny's blood.