Disinfo: The West falsely accuses Russia of election meddling

Summary

Relations between Russia and the West deteriorated in the wake of the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the successful referendum on Crimea’s reunification with Russia in 2014. The West has repeatedly accused Moscow of meddling in other nations’ political processes, inducing the 2016 US presidential election and the Brexit vote, without providing sufficient proof. Russia continues to deny all such allegations.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative attempting to paint Russian military aggression against Ukraine as a domestic civil conflict; Moscow's illegal annexation of Crimea as a "re-unification" preceded by a legitimate democratic "referendum"; and accusations of Russian meddling in Western democratic processes as factually unfounded and driven by "Russophobia".

No international body has recognised the so-called Crimea referendum, announced on 27 February 2014, and held on 16 March 2014. Thirteen members of the United Nations Security Council voted in favour of a resolution declaring the referendum invalid. On 27 March 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which stated that the referendum in Crimea was not valid and could not serve as a basis for any change in the status of the peninsula. On 17 December 2018, the UN General Assembly confirmed its non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea. On the fifth anniversary of Crimea's annexation, the EU reiterated its position of non-recognition of the landgrab and continues to stand in full solidarity with Ukraine, supporting its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Moreover, the international community, including the European Union, recognises and condemns clear violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014. 

Extensive evidence confirms that Russia did meddle in the 2016 US presidential elections, specifically aiming to damage Hillary Clinton's campaign and aid Republican candidate Donald Trump. Some assessments suggest this interference affected the outcome of the vote, particularly in three critical swing states where Trump's victory margins were the thinnest. Likewise, Russian state efforts to affect the outcome of the Brexit vote are well-documented, both in news reports and parliamentary enquiries (see especially pp. 43-52). Fore more information on Russia's interference in Western democratic processes, see the EUvsDisinfo Elections page.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue184
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 13/02/2020
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: UK, Russia, Ukraine, US
  • Keywords: election meddling, Brexit, Anti-Russian, Manipulated elections/referendum, War in Ukraine, Russophobia, Elections, Referendum, Crimea

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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Poland falsely claims that the USSR occupied it in 1939

Today, Polish authorities consider the actions of the USSR to protect Ukrainians and Belarusians in 1939 as “an act of division and occupation of Poland” (at that time, let me remind you, not only did no great power but also the League of Nations as a whole did not consider it so).

It is clear that we, in Russia, do not divide divisions or fronts into “ours” or “not ours”.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative attempting to distort the events of the Second World War and rewrite its history in a way that is favourable to Russia.

Identifying the events of September 1939 as "division and occupation" is a legitimate choice by Polish authorities, considering that this characterisation accurately sums up Soviet conduct toward its eastern neighbour at the time. The interview omits all mention of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact signed in August 1939 which, in a secret protocol, entitled Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union to their respective "spheres of influence" in Eastern Europe. As it were, Poland was divided between the two spheres, its two halves occupied by Germany and the USSR starting 1 September and 17 September 1939, respectively.

There is a Western pressure campaign against Russian media

Western countries are carrying out a pressure campaign against Russian media. US Congressmen and French president Emmanuel Macron accused RT and Sputnik, without evidence, of interfering in the elections of their countries.

Disproof

There is plenty of evidence of Russia’s interference in both the elections in the US in 2016 and France in 2017 through, amongst other means, RT and Sputnik.

This is part of a recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative to portray Russia as an innocent power falsely accused of interfering on other countries’ affairs, and Western defensive actions as anti-Russian in nature. You can see other examples of disinformation on this topic in our database, such as the alleged persecution of Sputnik in totalitarian Estonia due to its truthful reporting and fear of its influence; the allegedly brave efforts of Sputnik against intolerance in Lithuania; the supposed violations of the rights of Russian journalists in the US and the EU; the claims that French media are not free, or the stories on how nice is to be a journalist in Russia, unlike in Europe, because Russia is the global champion of free speech.

Only Ukraine violates the ceasefire regime in Donbas

There were tens of “comprehensive” ceasefire agreements concluded since 2015 between the Ukrainian troops and the People’s Police of Donbas. Each of them lasted a maximum of a few days, afterwards the Ukrainian side resumed shelling. And while the command of the republics of Donbas strictly forbids its subordinates to open fire, even in response to shelling by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Ukrainian side periodically conducts targeted shelling of the positions of the defenders of Donbas and frontline settlements.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the war in Ukraine alleging that Ukraine is sabotaging the Minsk agreements and the ceasefire regimes in Donbas.

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine reported 8,500 ceasefire violations during the period from 27 January - 9 February. It recorded 26 weapons in violation of their withdrawal lines: three in the Ukrainian government-controlled side and 23 in areas outside governmental control. The Mission observed anti-tank mines on both sides of the contact line.