Disinfo: The US Defender 2020 military manoeuvre is explicitly directed against Russia

Summary

The US Defender 2020 military manoeuvre, with Germany as the logistical hub, is explicitly directed against Russia. The exercise is a mistake, the West is in a phase where it has to approach Russia because it needs Russia to solve the global problems in the Middle East and in North Africa. These problems are much more acute than the problems in Ukraine. But unfortunately, a large part of the German leadership elite today is of the opinion that everything possible must be done to show solidarity with the Poles and the Balts.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the West/ NATO threatening or encircling Russia and the US-led military exercise "Defender-Europe 2020", which is not aimed or targeted at Russia. US Major General Andrew Rohling Deputy Commanding General for the US Army in Europe, informs that the US-led exercise "Defender 2020" is an American exercise with 18 NATO partner countries. Rohling emphasises that the aim of the exercise is not to target any country, but rather to test strategic readiness and how to react to a crisis. Exercise Defender-Europe 2020 is the deployment of a division-size combat-credible force from the United States to Europe, the drawing of equipment and the movement of personnel and equipment across the Atlantic to various training areas in Europe, like Germany and Poland. With US Defender Europe 2020, the 18 participating NATO-countries are therefore practising procedures to ensure and demonstrate the ability to relocate and also to confirm the alliance's commitment to supporting and, in particular, to show the United States' commitment to Europe's security. There are 37,000 participants - of which up to 20,000 from the USA are to be relocated to Europe - and takes place from January to May 2020. U.S. service members will then spread out across the region to establish intermediate staging bases with multinational forces and participate in various annual exercises. For more information about the exercise: US Army Europe Website and Factsheet about Defender 2020 and updates from the Bundeswehr (German Army).

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 182
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 02/02/2020
  • Outlet language(s) German
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Poland, Germany, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia
  • Keywords: Encircling Russia, NATO
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Crimea never belonged to Ukraine

It is about time Kyiv abandoned its claims to the [Crimean] peninsula, which has never belonged to [Ukraine] either by law or spirit, and was always a foreign territory.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the illegal annexation of Crimea.

According to international law, Crimea is a part of Ukraine. On 27 March 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning Russia's occupation of Crimea and stating that the referendum in Crimea was not valid and could not serve as a basis for any change in the status of the peninsula. By signing the 1997 Friendship Treaty, Russia also recognised that Crimea is an integral part of Ukraine. Russia violated international law as well as key principles of the European security framework by illegally annexing the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol in 2014.

Coronavirus is a US provocation against China

All this is against the Chinese. The American newspaper The New York Times was the first to report about the virus. How did they find it? The American Consulate General was evacuated immediately. What was the reason for such a rush? Usually, diplomats leave last. They stay in a time of war, but this time they left. The current situation is helping Trump to get the right trade agreement with China.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory and a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about the China coronavirus.

In response to the outbreak of the coronavirus, the Chinese authorities have placed more than a dozen cities under quarantine. The World Health Organisation is working with Chinese authorities and global experts to learn more about the virus. 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 as a weapon of mass destruction.

Coronavirus: A North American epidemic

There are strange “separate” incidents that targeted China from North America; the most prominent was the arrival of a shipment issued by Canadian biological laboratories in March 2019, which includes “malicious viruses.” It is noteworthy that this shipment was carried out under a veil of secrecy other than the usual procedures, which prompted the Chinese side to file a formal complaint. A large US military delegation, consisting of 300 people, arrived in Wuhan, in Hubei Province, China on October 19, 2019, to participate in a military games festival hosted by China and held there. On November 2, 2019, the first infection with the coronavirus was recorded in that province, and it spread rapidly throughout December. Scientifically, the incubation period for corona infection is 14 days.

Disproof

A number of conspiracy theories that are only linked by the fact that they are "separate" incidents, and echos some recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation especially about China coronavirus. The narratives also resemble a recurring conspiracy theory about the Lugar Lab in Georgia. The claims about Canadian involvement in the coronavirus spread appear to be based on a mischaracterization of August 2019 reports about a transfer of Ebola and Nipah viruses from a Canadian lab to Beijing, and an apparently separate issue involving two Chinese researchers at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg, in the central province of Manitoba. Read further debunking by the AFP Fact Check.

As for the US participation in the Military World Games and its connection with the coronavirus, there is no evidence to prove this claim. There were 9,308 athletes from 109 countries that have registered to participate in 2019 Military World Games held between October 18-27. While the incubation period of 2019-nCoV, also known as coronavirus, is believed to vary from as few as 2 days to as long as 14 days after the exposure, according to the CDC. This is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS viruses.