Disinfo: The West pursues a Maidan policy towards Belarus to encircle Russia

Summary

EEAS representative Peter Stano demanded that the Belarusian authorities release Siarhei Cikhanouski (Tsikhanouski) and other people. Hence, the collective West named its candidate for the Belarusian presidential elections. NATO countries love Cikhanouski for his participation in protests against modification of the Treaty on Union State between Belarus and Russia. A number of media outlets, dozens of Telegram channels and other West-financed pro-Maidan structures pursue an information campaign against Alyaksandr Lukashenka. The West is fine with either keeping Lukashenka in power conditioned with his drifting to the West, or with the organisation of complete chaos in Belarus. Belarus has gained the larger attention of global actors after the 2014 coup d’état in Ukraine. Washington is clear about its intention to encircle Russia with an “Anakonda ring”, i.e. to create a belt of adversary states under NATO’s control. Belarus’s pseudo-neutral status covers up NATO plans to engage it into a military conflict with Russia. In the energy sector, the US plans to tear Belarus away from the Russian oil market. American oil companies extract oil in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan but Russia would deny its transit to Belarus through Russia’s territory. This will provoke strained relations and conflicts between them and Russia.

Disproof

This is mixture of conspiracies consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin propaganda narratives about NATO's belligerence towards Russia and other countries, Belarusian independent media and political opposition as Western-controlled and Western attempts to organise a colour revolution in Belarus and to disrupt Belarusian-Russian relations. Among other things, the publication mentions a long-standing conspiracy about West's anti-Russia "Anaconda ring" plan aimed to encircle Russia. On 9 July 2020, EEAS representative Peter Stano indeed made a statement about the detention of popular blogger Siarhei Cikhanouski (Tsikhanouski) arbitrary and urging Belarus's authorities to release him and other activists. Nevertheless, it does not follow that the EU considers Cikhanouski as its presidential candidate as alleged. The claim that NATO countries praise his participation in protests against deeper integration with Russia is groundless. On 19 June 2020, the EEAS likewise condemned the detention of another Belarusian presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka and his son Eduard and called for their release. "The Belarusian authorities must respect fundamental freedoms and human rights, in line with Belarus’ international commitments. They must refrain from any restrictions of the rights of potential candidates, avoid any detentions of peaceful protesters, and immediately release all arbitrarily detained activists. Reported cases of ill-treatment of persons detained for their involvement in peaceful protests, including Pavel Severinets, are extremely worrying," the EEAS' statement reads. The article also implicitly claims that the West overthrew former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich, which supports another propaganda narrative about the Western-staged coup d'état in Ukraine. In fact, the spontaneous onset of the Euromaidan protests was a reaction from several segments of the Ukrainian population to former President Yanukovych’s sudden departure from the promised Association Agreement with the European Union in November 2013, after pressure from Russia. See the full debunk - The Western-backed coup in Ukraine has torn the country asunder. As for US-Belarus energy cooperation, a tanker carrying the first shipment of US crude oil to Belarus reached the port of Klaipeda in Lithuania early July. However, the US did not voice its intention to export oil from Azerbaijan or Kazakhstan to Belarus as alleged. The claim about NATO planning to engage Belarus in a war against Russia is speculation. NATO does not provoke conflicts between sovereign countries and does not plan to wage a war against Russia. "Any claims that NATO is preparing an attack on Russia are absurd," NATO's official website says. NATO is a defensive alliance and does not pose a threat to Russia. Its purpose is to protect its member states. Every country that joins NATO undertakes to uphold its principles and policies, and this includes the commitment that "the Alliance does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia," as reaffirmed at the Brussels Summit. For more information about NATO-Russian relations and disinformation narratives about NATO, see here and here. See earlier disinformation cases alleging that the Belarusian opposition, civic activists and independent journalists make kill lists for Western security bodies, that the pro-Western Belarusian opposition prepares 'kill lists' and genocide, the US global “Anaconda” strategy is to limit the living space of geopolitical opponents, and that the West's objective is to encircle Russia entirely thanks to the "Anaconda ring" and "Great Turan" doctrines.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 203
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 18/06/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Russian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, US, Belarus, Russia
  • Keywords: Union State of Belarus and Russia, Encircling Russia, Alexander Lukashenko, Ukrainian statehood, Conspiracy theory, NATO, Coup
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Ukraine claims that the Minsk Agreements are just a piece of paper

The Ukrainian side claimed that the Minsk agreements are just a piece of paper and they are not necessary for implementation. Therefore Russia could claim as well that there’s no need to fulfill these agreements. Or is it only the DPR-LPR that should fulfill them? If this agreement is optional, then could the DPR-LPR attack too?

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the war in Ukraine and the Minsk Agreements. The Ukrainian side has never claimed that "the Minsk agreements are just a piece of paper". Oleksandr Merezhko, Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian Delegation to the Tripartite Contact Group, said at the end of May 2020: "If Ukraine adheres to its obligations and Russia does not, we have the right - and I draw an analogy with an international agreement - for non-compliance and breach of the agreement by the counter-party to withdraw from the process. It will no longer be a legal but a political right. Sanctions will still apply. After all, it was not our fault that the Minsk agreements were violated". The implementation of the agreements remains one of the key priorities of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Since 2014, negotiations with Russia to resolve the conflict in the Donbas have been held within the framework of the Normandy Format and the Minsk process. A special Trilateral contact group is working on a peaceful settlement of the Donbas situation. Three parties are involved in this process: representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE. Unofficially, representatives of the "LDNR" factions are also present. The second set of measures to implement the Minsk agreements was signed on 12 February 2015. The first paragraph of the document relates to an immediate ceasefire. Next, it is necessary to withdraw heavy weapons, ensure OSCE monitoring, release prisoners, grant Donbas special status and hold local elections, provide amnesty to the parties involved in the conflict and restore control over the Ukrainian-Russian border in the conflict zone. There are no conditions that the Ukrainian authorities should conduct direct negotiations with the leaders of the "LDNR" factions in the Minsk agreements. Read similar cases alleging that Ukraine does not advance in the implementation of the Minsk agreements under Zelenskyy, that Kyiv does not want to implement the current Minsk agreements, that Ukraine does not want to implement the Minsk agreements because it is controlled by the West, or that Kyiv has not implemented the conditions of "Minsk-2" for five years.

The memorandum with the IMF is putting Ukraine under external control

The new memorandum with the IMF, signed by Kyiv, actually puts Ukraine under external control. The memorandum with the IMF is selling Ukrainian land and will sell all our state-owned enterprises.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative alleging that Ukraine is controlled by the IMF. There is no evidence that cooperation with the IMF could threaten Ukrainian sovereignty. Ukraine has been a member of the IMF and World Bank since 3 September 1992. The relations between Ukraine and the IMF are based on agreements that support the economic development of Ukraine and the improvement of the free market conditions. Ukraine is a sovereign and independent state with a democratically-elected president and parliament. Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are respected by almost the whole world. Read more disinformation cases about Ukraine being under foreign control.

Caesar Act targets anyone who even roots for the Syrian regime, including the Lebanese

…The Caeser Act has a negative effect on Lebanon because it works on stopping Lebanese exports to Iraq and to the Arab Gulf (region) and the Levant area. Sanctions on individuals mean that any individual in Lebanon, who considers himself to be a partisan of the Syrian regime, is placed on the list of sanctions by the banks and its money transfers.

Disproof

This is a misunderstanding of the new “Caeser Act” sanction implemented on Syrian targets including president Bashar Al-Assad. The Treasury Department and State Department released 39 designations under the Caesar Act and Executive Order 13894 that target individuals and businesses that support the Assad regime and obstruct a peaceful, political resolution of the conflict as called for by UNSCR 2254. The new American sanction act, which is named after a Syrian military police defector with the pseudonym “Caesar” who smuggled out 55,000 photos of detainees tortured to death in Syrian prisons and hospitals, targets anyone who aids the regime of Bashar al-Assad or provides assistance to certain industries operating inside the regime-held territory. It aims to force the regime to stop the bombardment carried out during ­Syria’s nine-year civil war and halt widely documented human rights abuses. The act also focuses on three sectors — the Syrian military, the domestic petroleum and gas industry, and reconstruction in regime-held areas — and imposes sanctions on anyone who provides support to or maintenance for them. In the military sector, for instance, the sanctions target anyone who sells or provides aircraft to the Syrian military or helps operate the equipment. According to the US state department, the sanctions “under the Caesar Act and Executive Order 13894 are not intended to harm the Syrian people, but rather to promote accountability for the Assad regime’s violence and destruction”. Executive Order 13894 includes menu-based sanctions including travel restrictions to the United States and isolation from the United States’ financial system for foreign persons who engage in or finance the obstruction, prevention, or disruption of a ceasefire or political solution to the conflict in Syria and members of their family, among other actions. Read more disinfo cases that claim that EU sanctions on Syria are illegal, or that the US admits that its goal in Syria is to defend terrorists from Russian attacks, even that the US uses terrorism and coronavirus in Syria, or EU sanctions are for merely doing business with Damascus.