Disinfo: Russia is helping countries while Brussels and NATO stay indifferent

Summary

Russia responded to Italy’s request for medical assistance to fight the coronavirus, as it believes that the pandemic can be battled only if all countries resort to cooperation and coordination. This proved to be a major difference compared to the indifference of Brussels and the racist ban imposed by Berlin to export medical gear to other EU member states. Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was very brave to ask help from the Kremlin and Moscow responded in 24 hours. At the same time, Italy asked help from the United States but it received no response, even medical supplies from NATO’s bases in the country were not released. Is anyone in Greece thinking to do the same and approach Russia or will the Greek authorities prefer to stay with their partners and allies?

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. In particular, this narrative of failure and lack of EU solidarity is trending after the delivery of Russian aid to Italy.

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.

There is no evidence to support the claim that the pandemic is resulting in the death or obsolescence of the EU. The European Commission is coordinating a common European response to the COVID-19 crisis and is supporting 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 EUR 37 billion Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative to provide liquidity to small businesses and the health care sector.

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 EUR for shortlisted research projects that can improve epidemiology and public health, including preparedness and response to outbreaks.

The EU also created the first ever stockpile of medical equipment. 

EU Member States are helping each other in this crisis; for example, German hospitals have offered to treat critical coronavirus patients from France as well as taking in patients from Italy and the Czech Republic has sent masks to Italy.

The European Union (EU) and its member states have since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis to support each other and show solidarity in various sectors. Large amounts of financial, medical and personal assistance have been put in place to aid all EU member states. Furthermore, the EU is working 24/7 to stockpile and manage distribution of vital medical equipment, while its member states are coordinating to take care of different things and help each other.

More about the EU's response can be read here and here. NATO is also doing its part to help its member states and the Alliance's Foreign Ministers agreed to speed up the coordination to combat the coronavirus crisis

More on the targeted EU response to support partner countries' efforts in tackling the coronavirus pandemic here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 191
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 25/03/2020
  • Language/target audience: Greek
  • Country: Greece
  • Keywords: coronavirus, Conspiracy theory, Euro-scepticism, EU, Brussels
  • Outlet: Sputnik Greece

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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Governments are fiddling with the numbers to exaggerate the death toll of the coronavirus

The World Health Organization, headed by a politician with a dodgy past and funded largely by Bill Gates, has officially declared a pandemic. In response, one “Western” government after another has declared a national emergency and put the country in lockdown. As a result, millions and millions are now losing their jobs and entire national economies are made to suffer irreparable damage, yet aggregate average monthly death rates are not even higher than in 2019, 2018 and 2017. From the very beginning, aided by a supine press, governments have been fiddling with the numbers, going to extremes to give the impression that the coronavirus death toll is appalling. […]
Only a government without a grasp of reality, with a total lack of ethical and political principles, accustomed to trampling on the rights of citizens for decades, would decree a total lockdown just to save a few people, or a government that would be taking orders from some unknown higher authority.

Disproof

An unfounded conspiracy theory, sharing a recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative about "secret elites" controlling world leaders.

When in March 11, 2020 the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, there were more than 118 thousand confirmed coronavirus cases in 114 countries. An updated situation report from WHO on the coronavirus pandemic can be found here.

The lack of solidarity against Covid-19 may cause the end of the EU

The lack of solidarity against Covid-19 may entail the end of political blocks like the European Union. European countries will suffer more than others like Russia, China or India due to the lack of solidarity of the north of the EU with the south. It is shocking to see Russian convoys helping Italy while Germany, France, the Netherlands or Austria didn’t move a finger to help their partners.

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. In particular, this narrative of failure and lack of EU solidarity is trending after the delivery of Russian aid to Italy.

There is no COVID-19 pandemic, coronavirus is just like the flu

We don’t know how many fake messages there are these days. There are Italian doctors who have spread information about the coronavirus on the internet, and there is a strong suspicion that what they say is not true. If they took the test away, life would be the same. There would be nothing here at all. There would be no evidence of increased mortality or morbidity or sickness. There is nothing going on at all at the moment.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation attempt to downplay the severity and urgency of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has been classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation. Pro-Kremlin media have spread a variety of false claims to push this message, for example that coronavirus mortality figures are insignificant, that COVID-19 is fake and a political move to install hegemony, and that the virus is safe.

The novel coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease, belongs to a family of viruses originating in animals that include others such as SARS and MERS. It was first reported in the city of Wuhan in central China in late 2019 and has been rapidly spreading across the world, with cases being reported in 200 countries, territories and areas. The number of COVID-19 cases has surpassed four million globally with over 280,000 deaths as of 11 May 2020.