Disinfo: Brussels cannot offer any centralised plan on quarantine recovery

Summary

The end of quarantine in Europe exposed a new problem: Brussels is confused and cannot offer any centralised plan. There are no exact dates or detailed instructions in the so-called “roadmap” presented by the European Commission.

Disproof

This claim exploits the coronavirus pandemic to push a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the EU's alleged imminent collapse.

One of the main pro-Kremlin narratives relating to the pandemic is that the EU is failing to cope with the COVID-19 crisis and, as a result, is disintegrating, together with the border-free Schengen area. This narrative also aims to pit EU member states against each other in an attempt to undermine European solidarity: another recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation tactic.

The European Commission is coordinating a common European response to the COVID-19 crisis and is supporting the Member States in tackling the pandemic and in mitigating its economic consequences.

To cushion the blow to people’s livelihoods and the economy, the European Commission has adopted a comprehensive economic response to the outbreak, applied the full flexibility of the EU's fiscal rules, has revised its State Aid rules and proposed to set up a €37 billion Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative to provide liquidity to small businesses and the health care sector. The EU also created the first-ever stockpile of medical equipment.

The Commission is further increasing its response by proposing to set up a €100 billion solidarity instrument to help workers keep their incomes and businesses stay afloat, called SURE. It is also proposing to redirect all available structural funds to the response to the coronavirus. To support scientific research into COVID-19, the European Commission earmarked €47.5 million for shortlisted research projects that can improve epidemiology and public health, including preparedness and response to outbreaks. Read more about the EU's response here.

Apart from that, on 15 April 2020, the Commission, in cooperation with the President of the European Council, has put forward a European roadmap to phase-out the containment measures due to the coronavirus outbreak. While recognising the specificities of each country, the roadmap established the following key principles: timing is essential, phasing-out confinement requires accompanying measures, and there is a need for a common European framework. The presented roadmap also listed concrete recommendations.

Read similar cases claiming that the EU has collapsed as a result of the pandemic, that the coronavirus epidemic marks the beginning of an era of crisis for pan-European identity and solidarity and that the COVID outbreak means the end of Europe.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 194
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 20/04/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: EU
  • Keywords: coronavirus, Brussels, EU disintegration
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Formation of OPCW Syria investigation team was illegal

Moscow does not recognise the [OPCW’s] investigation team because its formation was illegal and outside the framework of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Disproof

This is a recurring disinformation narrative aiming to discredit the OPCW. The OPCW is an independent inter-governmental international organisation with 193 member states - including Russia.

The Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) was formed in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) as the voting results for the decision upon which its formation was based on were counted at 82 votes in favour and 24 against. The formation of the IIT was therefore adopted in complete compliance with the relevant standards of the CWC.

The Pentagon creates biological laboratories around the world to develop “combat” viruses

The Pentagon creates biological laboratories in different parts of the world to develop “combat” viruses and drugs that neutralise viruses. Most of these laboratories are located in the territories of the post-Soviet republics along the perimeter of Russian borders. Outbreaks of serious infectious diseases among the population could be connected with these laboratories. One such laboratory is the so-called Richard Lugar Centre for Public Health in Georgia.

Disproof

This is a recurring conspiracy theory alleging, without evidence, that the United States develops biological weapons and has secret biological laboratories around the world. The disinformation claim also capitalises on the oft-recurring conspiracy theory about the Lugar Lab in Georgia, as well as laboratories in Ukraine. The implicit claim here is that the coronavirus may have originated in one of these labs as a biological weapon - one of the most common disinformation claims about the pandemic in pro-Kremlin media.

In fact, virology laboratories in Ukraine are involved in preventing the risks of complex diseases by pathogens and, together with other similar projects, counteracting bioterrorism. Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Georgia officially addressed the conspiracy theories behind the Richard Lugar Centre as "nonsense and typical of Russian misinformation and propaganda campaigns." The Richard Lugar Centre for Public Health Research is a facility of the National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), which became operational in August 2013. It is a top-tiered institution in NCDC’s laboratory network and serves as a reference laboratory for Georgia’s public health system. Read more about the disinformation campaign surrounding the Lugar Laboratory on Myth Detector.

EU will provide Ukraine with financial support in exchange for the banking system and destruction of trade unions

[…] for its handout, the European Union not only wants to control the country’s banking system but also to strengthen the fight against corruption (read – to expand the network of grant-eaters), to reduce social payments (goodbye pensioners and the poor), to ban trade unions and to approve a Labour Code that legalises slave labour. But, of course, the adoption of the anti-Kolomoyskiy law by the Verkhovna Rada remains the key condition. Amendments to this law are currently being considered by the relevant committee [in the parliament].

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative on Ukraine and its relations with the European Union.

No such demands have been made upon Ukraine. As explained by the permanent representative of Ukraine to the EU, Mykola Tochytskyi, Ukraine will receive €1.2 billion in two tranches to overcome the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first €600 million will be provided at once, after the approval of the decision by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union unconditionally. The second tranche of €600 million will be provided under conditions. These conditions must be defined by the negotiations which will start soon. Therefore, the exact conditions on which this support will be granted to Ukraine have not yet been defined.