Disinfo: NATO exercises in Lithuania, named after a Lithuanian fascist group, aim to provoke Russia


NATO exercises in Lithuania, named after a Lithuanian fascist armed group, try to provoke and frighten Russia.

NATO has always known how to “dignify” historical events in an infamous way. Germany had joined NATO on 9 May 1955 – exactly ten years after the Russian day of victory over fascism. Will all right-wing radicals in the Lithuanian Ministry of Defence want to take revenge on Moscow by naming NATO’s military exercises after a fascist armed group? No one can tell that this was not meant to be a deliberate provocation.

Germany, along with ten other NATO countries, is also participating in the manoeuvres, which apparently serve to deter Russia in the region.


A recurring pro-Kremlin narrative on NATO belligerence towards Russia and on Russophobia.

NATO does not provoke Russia with its military exercises in the Baltic states. NATO's presence in the region is at the request of the host nations and enjoys significant public support. A 2016 Gallup poll found that most people in Allied countries in the Baltic region associate NATO with the protection of their country. NATO forces uphold the highest standards of conduct, both on and off duty.

Moreover, NATO seeks no confrontation with Russia. NATO is a defensive alliance. Its purpose is to protect the member states. NATO's exercises and military deployments are not directed against Russia – or any other country. NATO has reached out to Russia consistently, transparently and publicly over the past 29 years. NATO enlargement has brought more stability and prosperity to Europe, including Russia.

The name of the exercises, "Iron Wolf", has nothing to do with Nazi or Fascist ideology. The Iron Wolf is a mythical character from a medieval legend of the founding of the city of Vilnius. This name is held by one of the most important units of the Lithuanian Army - Mechanised Infantry Brigade “Iron Wolf”.

Read more disinformation cases alleging that NATO invents a “Russian threat” to expand its presence near Russia and that NATO jet intentionally provoked Russian jets over the Baltic sea.


  • Reported in: Issue 173
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 13/11/2019
  • Language/target audience: German
  • Country: Russia, Lithuania
  • Keywords: International, Provocation, Anti-Russian, Lithuanian military, Military exercise, Russophobia, NATO, Nazi/Fascist


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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Name of the “Iron Wolf” NATO exercises in Lithuania is a reference to fascism and Adolf Hitler

The “Iron Wolf” was the name of a Lithuanian fascist union, which was established in 1927 under the authoritarian rule of Antanas Smetona. The decision to call the NATO exercises taking place in Lithuania with this name is a provocation – this signal is clearly aimed against Russia.

All allusions concerning the “wolf” are a reference to Adolf Hitler, as his headquarters were called Wolfschanze (Wolf’s Lair).


This message is a part of the Kremlin’s policy of historical revisionism – it continuously accuses the Baltic states of their support for the Nazi or Fascist ideology. Any disagreement with the official Kremlin’s view on the history of the Baltic states is automatically labelled by Russia as support for “Nazism”.

The Iron Wolf is a mythical character from a medieval legend of the founding of the city of Vilnius. The name of the Iron Wolf holds one of the most important units of the Lithuanian Army - Mechanised Infantry Brigade “Iron Wolf”.

What is happening in Ukraine is not decommunisation, but outright Russophobia

The so-called desovietisation in Ukraine hides outright Russophobia. In Ukraine, we often talk about all the names associated not only with the Soviet era, but also with historical Russia.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative claiming that Ukraine is a Russophobic country and that decommunisation is directed against Russia.

The law on decommunisation initiated by the Cabinet of Ministers came into force in Ukraine in 2015. The document recognises the communist totalitarian regime of 1917–1991 in Ukraine as criminal and pursuing a policy of state terror. The law condemns two totalitarian ideologies - Communism and Nazism.

Ukrainians ruined the Russian empire and the USSR, the US is next

Ukraine is capable of ruining many empires. A great deal of the Russian empire collapse was brought by intrigues played by the empire’s ruling elites, originating in Ukraine. Dnepropetrovsk dynasty was governing the USSR. Once Ukrainian elites moved to the US’s camp, an awful conflict among American elites has emerged. Whereas we follow the Ukrainian crisis as a civil war of our close people, Americans treat Ukraine as Guatemala or any other colony and protectorate. Suddenly it turned out that Ukrainian elites can influence US domestic policies. It all started when Petro Poroshenko finished off Trump’s consultant Paul Manafort.


This is a mix of conspiracies and ungrounded historical generalizations aimed to discredit Ukraine, Ukrainian statehood, and Ukrainians. It also follows recurring pro-Kremlin narratives about Ukraine as US's colony and a puppet state, a civil war in Ukraine, and US's meddling into Ukrainian elections because of Poroshenko-Manafort story.

It is a conspiracy and simplification to consider Ukraine and the persons originated on its territory as the main drivers for the downfall of Russian empire or the USSR. Historians agree that the Russian empire collapsed during the February Revolution of 1917, largely as a result of massive failures such as hunger, because of its participation in the WWI. There were many factors that led to the collapse of the USSR beyond the alleged mismanagement of the ruling Dnevpropetrovsk clan, such as political policies, economics, defense spending, and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, etc.