The European Union completely denied Serbia’s request for aid in the fight against the coronavirus. In doing so, Europe displayed the same “solidarity” to Belgrade as it did in 1999 during the tragic bombings of the country. Faraway China and brotherly Russia, however, generously responded to Serbia’s request and sent medical equipment and staff to help the country combat the deadly virus while the EU remained silent.
While the European Union is only united in blaming Russia for its alleged “disinformation policy” which aims to undermine the union, the facts speak for themselves: Moscow sent 15 air carriers with all necessary supplies to fight the coronavirus in Italy and Italian citizens began to replace, tear apart and even burn EU flags. The news about the crisis in Italy and the EU’s impudent and hypocritical failure to respond was not exposed by Russian “disinformation,” but by journalists all over the world.
The COVID-19 outbreak challenged EU’s response capabilities, but a claim that "EU has done nothing" is false.
The article’s allegation that Russian disinformation is merely an expression of the EU’s Russophobia is baseless as Moscow’s disinformation campaign is well-documented by independent researchers such as, for example, the Computational Propaganda Research Project by the University of Oxford and Graphika, and the Knight Report. For more detailed information about the coronavirus campaign, see the latest disinformation report by EU vs. Disinfo.
The EU’s response to the coronavirus includes the mobilization of 37 billion EUR to combat the pandemic, a 100 billion EUR solidarity fund and the establishment of a rescEU stockpile to provide medical equipment and supplies among other measures to support member states and partners. The latest Eurogroup agreement between EU finance ministers promised over 500 billion EUR for a safety net for governments, companies and workers of member states. Euractiv reports that the EU has set up important economic instruments to increase the member states’ resilience, but it needs to set up more tools to ensure rapid recovery estimated at 1-1,5 trillion EUR.
On the other hand, the quality and usefulness of Moscow’s aid to Italy have been called into question. A Rome official claimed that 80% of the supplies sent by Russia were of very little use, as Italy received equipment for disinfection and sterilization, and not the ventilators and personal protective equipment which it needs the most. While Italian citizens and politicians have nevertheless expressed their gratitude, the narrative about replacing EU flags has also been challenged, the BBC reports.