Disinfo: The EU is dead, it abandoned Italy, only Russia, China and Cuba gave a helping hand

Summary

There is no European answer to the Coronavirus in Italy. The only countries that helped Italy are Russia, China and Cuba, non-European countries. When the Italians called for help, other European countries made fun of them and criticised the way they managed the crisis. If ever the European Union lived before, now it is dead. When the crisis is over, the EU will be held accountable and the mistake of the European Union will be stopped because it has no reason to exist.

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. Read more on EU repsonse to the COVID-19 outbreak here and here. 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 191
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 01/04/2020
  • Language/target audience: French
  • Country: EU, Italy
  • Keywords: Cash, coronavirus, EU disintegration, European Union

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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Italian newspaper, NATO waging disinformation campaign against Russia’s COVID-19 aid to Italy

Activists linked to the Atlantic Council think tank, an adjunct of NATO, have launched a coordinated smear campaign targeting Russia’s dispatch of humanitarian relief to pandemic-stricken Italy. The activists took to Twitter and falsely dismissed Russia’s aid as “80% useless,” citing a report in the La Stampa newspaper. The article relied on the testimony of an anonymous source, which means we will have to take the author’s word for it. Not surprisingly, the author himself is also linked to the Atlantic Council. What’s most interesting here the fact that so many of the people pushing the disinformation are connected to the pro-NATO pressure group. Not to mention the fact that they used almost the same form of words. Was this coordination, or coincidence?

Disproof

Conspiracy theory. The Atlantic Council is not a "NATO adjunct" or a "pressure group." It operates separately from NATO as a non-profit organisation and maintains both financial (pp. 83-87) and intellectual independence. RT seeks to discredit La Stampa's report by making unfounded claims about its author's "anti-Russia" bias, and by implying that his reliance on anonymous sources somehow casts doubt on the accuracy of the story. This is not so. Like most other newspapers of record, La Stampa follows a strict policy on source anonymity. Its chief editor explains that comments from unnamed sources are to be used as a "last resort"; clearly identified as such in the news item; and only cited on the approval of the editor himself, who must first be informed of the source's identity. La Stampa story has since been corroborated by additional sources in the Italian military. See more examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation about the coronavirus.

Georgian Lugar Lab might produce biological weapons

The next important object is the Lugar Laboratory, also known as the Georgian Research Center in Tbilisi, which is functioning at the disposal of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health of Georgia and is the investment project of the USA aimed at creating a strategic military facility. The laboratory is studying especially dangerous infectious diseases, but it hides the true motives of its research, which may indicate the possibility of developing biological weapons.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative concerning the coronavirus pandemic and the Tbilisi-based Lugar Lab. The story fits the broader set of conspiracy theories on the supposed man-made origins of various infectious diseases. There is no evidence that SARS, MERS, or avian influenzas were created in laboratories. The Lugar laboratory does not "hide" its activities. On the contrary, as a partner institution of the World Health Organisation, it has been repeatedly inspected for adherence to international health standards. One such inspection, in September 2018, was carried out specifically in response to Russia's false accusations that the center had been manufacturing bioweapons. According to one of the visiting experts, they "were given access to all areas of the site, examined relevant documentation, and interviewed staff, and concluded that the Centre demonstrates significant transparency. Our group observed nothing out of the ordinary, or that we wouldn’t expect to see in a legitimate facility of this sort." The virus "2019-nCoV” comes from a family of viruses that include the common cold and viruses such as SARS and MERS. There is no evidence to suggest it was developed artificially in a laboratory as a weapon of mass destruction. A group of public health scientists have condemned rumours and conspiracy theories about the origin of coronavirus outbreak. "We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.The authors of The Lancet statement note that scientists from several countries who have studied SARS-CoV-2 “overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife, just like many other viruses that have recently emerged in humans. See here for further debunking by POLYGRAPH.info.

Europe blaming others for its problems with claims about alleged coronavirus “Russian disinformation”

Europe’s claims about alleged “Russian disinformation” concerning the coronavirus pandemic spring from its desire to blame others for its own problems with the pandemic. The preoccupation in Europe about “Russian disinformation” in the current coronavirus pandemic situation is bizarre, to say the least. This situation clearly requires uniting the forces of all peoples and countries. A well-known Chinese proverb says: “He who directs the attention of a community towards a black cat in a dark room lacks dignity, especially if there is no cat”.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative denying that Russian media has been involved in spreading disinformation about the coronavirus. The EUvsDisinfo Database on disinformation currently (9 April 2020) contains close to 300 cases of disinformation. Russia’s disinformation campaign on the coronavirus has been well documented by both media and governments, and some of their elements were widely reported by Russian and international publications. The coronavirus is a relentless and daily topic in pro-Kremlin media, including in state-owned outlets. These messages are characteristic of the Kremlin’s well-established strategy of using disinformation to amplify divisions, sow distrust and chaos, and exacerbate crisis situations and issues of public concern. Some cases, for example, claim that Bill Gates and George Soros are sponsoring the Wuhan coronavirus, that it is a UK, US or NATO creation and Americans have its cure, that it is an artificial disease which specifically targets Chinese DNA, that it was created with economic goals while big pharma companies are spreading panic for their own profits, that it is a biological weapon against Russia and China, that it will wipe out Ukraine’s population in a few days or that it was predicted by Nostradamus and others. Read previous cases claiming that mainstream media ignores the fake news campaign against Russia and that the EU is not publishing the coronavirus disinformation case it accuses Russia of spreading.