Disinfo: NATO is fabricating spy affairs to disrupt Serbia-Russia relations

Summary

The recording of money exchange between a Russian military intelligence officer and a Serbian military officer was published by a Bulgarian journalist who works with Bellingcat, an anti-Russian propagandist website. Both the website and its founder are discredited for publishing false stories on Skripal poisoning, MH17 and use of chemical weapons in Syria.

NATO used Bellingcat to orchestrate the whole thing because it’s livid about Serbia strengthening military ties with Russia (the “visit” of S-400 missile system and buying of Pantsir systems from Russia).

The recording itself is questionable because it was edited, so it is unclear if all parts of the video are showing the same event.

Disproof

No evidence given for any of the claims.

The video wasn't published by a Bulgarian journalist, but by an anonymous Youtube account. The journalist in question, Christo Grozev, was the one who publicly identified the man in the recording as Russian deputy military attache Georgy Kleban.

Bellingcat is not a discredited organisation, nor has it made up stories on poisoning of Sergei Skripal, the take down of MH17 airplane, or the use of chemical weapons in Syria. These claims are a continuation of a recurring disinformation narrative about Bellingcat as an "anti-Russian propaganda outlet". Bellingcat has conducted independent journalistic investigations into the MH17 case and discovered evidence of Russia’s involvement, which was later confirmed by Joint Investigation Team (JIT). (See similar cases: Bellingcat is a part of information war against Russia; Bellingcat did not investigate Skripal poisoning and publishes leaks from the British Intelligence; Buzzfeed and Bellingcat deliberately spread anti-Russian disinformation)

The claim that the video recording is of questionable credibility because it was edited, was made after the authenticity of the recording has already been confirmed by official sources, including the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić.

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  • Reported in: Issue 178
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 21/11/2019
  • Language/target audience: Serbian, Bosnian
  • Country: Serbia, Russia
  • Keywords: Sergei Skripal, Yugoslavia, Intelligence services, Syrian War, NATO, MH17

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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The spy recording is years old and does not show a Serbian military officer

Video recording where a Russian intelligence officer allegedly gives money to a Serbian officer is several years old. In addition, the person claimed to be a Serbian official with the officer rank is not a member of local security forces. In other words, it is a civilian who, most likely, was trading in business information.

Disproof

No evidence given for either of the claims. It was later officially confirmed that the recording was taken in December 2018, not several years ago. The Military Security Agency has also confirmed that the second person in the video is a retired Serbian military official, who was, at the time, already being investigated for contacts with foreign intelligence services. A spokesperson for the Serbian Security Agency has confirmed the authenticity of the video.

American gas for Poland and Ukraine is an expensive PR campaign

American gas for Ukraine is just a PR campaign, which will cost Poland and Ukraine much more compared to Russian gas prices.

Disproof

This is a recurring disinformation narrative that gas prices are too high in Ukraine and that the United States intends to capture the European gas market.

A memorandum on trilateral cooperation in the energy sector of Ukraine, Poland, and the USA was signed at the end of August 2019 in Warsaw. At the end of November 2019, an American tanker delivered 75,000 tonnes of liquefied gas to Poland. After the re-gasification process, gas already in the volume of 100 million cubic metres entered Polish gas transportation systems and was sent to Ukraine. 

Ukraine broke the Minsk agreements by allowing the National Police on the contact line

Ukraine knows that it can’t allow the National Police to be on the line of contact [in Donbas]. It violates the agreements. And Ukraine broke the agreement before the Normandy Format meeting.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Minsk agreements, portraying Ukraine as the only violator of the agreements. See previous cases about the Minsk agreements and the war in Ukraine.

On 20 September 2016, the Framework Decision of Tripartite Contact Group on the Withdrawal of Forces was signed. The document listed violations such as the movement of forces and means on the contact line, shelling or placing mines on the contact line, etc. However, there is no mention of the use of the National Police for controlling order there.