Disinfo: The only thing uniting the EU is Russophobia

Summary

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.

Disproof

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.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 194
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 05/04/2020
  • Language/target audience: Bulgarian
  • Country: EU, Italy
  • Keywords: coronavirus, EU disintegration, Russophobia

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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EU refuses aid to Serbia in the fight against the coronavirus, China and brotherly Russia generously respond

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.

Disproof

A recurring disinformation narrative about the EU and the coronavirus pandemic.

The EU mobilised immediate support for the fight against the coronavirus to its partners in the Western Balkans, including Serbia. As per the partners’ request, the Commission provided support for the supply of medical devices and personal equipment to address the immediate needs of the public health systems in the countries. In Serbia, the EU aid for immediate medical needs amounts to 15 million EUR. The Commission mobilised additional funds to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the outbreak through the support of the private sector, social protection, and resilience in the health sector. Serbia will benefit from 78.4 million EUR for this purpose.

Kyiv asked Russia to protect the population of Donbas and Crimea from the coronavirus

[Ukraine’s] Ministry of Foreign Affairs actually recognised the “LDNR” and Crimea as separate entities. On 15 April, an official statement to the Russian Federation appeared on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. There, Kyiv sophisticatedly asks [the Russian Federation] to protect the life of the population of Crimea and Donbas during the coronavirus pandemic.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about the war in Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea. 

Ukraine's government did not ask the Russian Federation for help. The statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine expressed Kyiv's concern about the state of protection of life and health of the population in the temporarily occupied territories of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, and certain areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Ukraine does not help businesses and people affected by the quarantine

Ukrainian authorities rewrote the country’s budget to please the IMF. Payments to the regions, subsidies to the population and financing of medicine were reduced. Help for businesses and people affected by the quarantine is not provided.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative alleging that Ukraine is controlled by the IMF. It's also a narrative about the collapse of the financial system of Ukraine, and the absence of support for Ukrainian citizens in need, etc.

“The amendments to the [Ukrainian] national budget for the current year are being made to optimise spending in response to the external and domestic challenges related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic and the global economic crisis,” the head of the state’s press service said.