Disinfo: No evidence of Russian military jets in Libya

Summary

The US Africa Command (AFRICOM) says that Russia sent repainted fighter jets to Libya, in order to support military operations conducted there by the Wagner Group. Such claims have nothing to with reality.

Disproof

The deployment of Russian warplanes in Libya has been confirmed by multiple sources. According to Bloomberg news agency, their presence was first reported by Fathi Bashagha, the security chief in Tripoli, who said at least six MiG 29s and two Sukhoi 24s had flown into the east from the Russian-controlled Hmeimim Air Base in Syria, escorted by two Su-35 Russian air force jets. This was later confirmed by satellite images (see here and here), by images of the aircraft taken by the US Air Force, and indirectly by Saqr al-Jaroushi, the head of the air force of Russia’s backed Libyan National Army (LNA), who on May 20 boasted that his forces were about to launch “the largest aerial campaign in Libyan history”. Further information on the deployment of the aircraft emerged afterwards. This is happening after the Russia-backed LNA was forced to retreat from the airbase of al-Watiyah and Wagner fighters were allegedly expelled from a location in southern Tripoli in the previous days, which points to a Russian escalation in support of LNA through an increase of air power to compensate those losses. As POLYGRAPH.info notes, the presence of Russian fighter jets in Libya has been confirmed by multiple "[i]ndependent sources, including those critical of the the US." Most of these reports predate the AFRICOM press release (26 May). See POLYGRAPH.info's full debunk here, and our own reporting on the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group here and here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 199
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 26/05/2020
  • Outlet language(s) English
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Libya, US, Russia
  • Keywords: Middle East and North Africa, North Africa, Hybrid war, Civil war
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In the centre of Kyiv, hundreds of Ukrainian neo-Nazis held the demonstration “Ukraine will resist” as part of the “No Surrender” initiative. They demanded that the Kyiv regime continue the war in Donbas, as well as ensure complete tolerance of and a lack of jurisdiction for Nazi militants.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the war in Ukraine. The action "Year of Zelenskyy - the year of revenge" took place in the centre of Kyiv on May 24. Activists were not demonstrating for the continuation of the war, but because they want to prevent the alleged legitimisation of the Russian backed groups that control parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Other demands included the dismissal of the head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak, the release of detained Maidan supporters, volunteers and the resumption of Ukraine's rapprochement with the EU and NATO. At the same time, there were no demands to continue the war in Donbas or ensure complete tolerance of and a lack of jurisdiction for Nazi militants.

The return of Crimea caused Western hostility against Russia

Relations between Russia and Western countries, including the United States, have deteriorated due to the Ukrainian crisis, the return of Crimea to Russia in March 2014, and sanctions against Russia. For its part, Moscow is seeking to confront this hostile Western approach and to restore normal relations with the West.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the illegal annexation of Crimea.

Western countries are not hostile to Russia but are responding to the violation of international law caused by the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Intimidation of population with the “Russian expansion to the West” is a part of the state ideology of Poland

The Polish political establishment is the most interested side in the talks about the increase of the NATO contingent in Poland. The intimidation of the population with the talks about the “Russian expansion to the West” is a part of the state ideology of Poland. The deployment of new NATO units in Poland is not only a desire to show muscle in front of Russia but is also an attempt to strengthen the Polish role in the EU and NATO in order to receive more kindness from Washington.

Disproof

This message is a part of the Kremlin’s widespread narrative about Russophobic Poland. The Kremlin-controlled media regularly accuses the political elites of Poland of Russophobia and the implementation of anti-Russian policies. Within this narrative, the “Russophobic” policies of Poland are often explained by the claim that the United States fully controls the domestic and foreign policy of this country (presenting Poland as an American “puppet-state” or a “banana republic”). The Polish authorities do not promote a policy of “intimidation with Russia”. The main current Russia-related concerns of Poland are a result of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Russia's armed military aggression in Ukraine. The Polish government shows its full support to solving the Russia-Ukraine conflict and complete restoration of territorial integrity of Ukraine. The deployment of NATO troops in Poland increases the domestic security of Poland – two-thirds of the Poles have a positive opinion about NATO's activities. See other examples of similar messages claiming that constant intimidation with Russia is used to make Poland economically dependent on the USA, the Polish authorities created an insane hysteria of intimidation with Russia, used for the needs of domestic politics and the national security strategy of Poland is a manifestation of traditional Russophobia of the Polish authorities.