Disinfo: The US lies about the Russian presence in Libya to gain access to oil resources

Summary

US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, David Schenker, tried to justify the Turkish intervention in Libya misreporting on Russia’s role there. He expressed Washington’s concern on the “affluence of Russian military equipment, weapons and fighters of the private military company Wagner to Libya”, but he provided no confirmed source that proved the presence of the Russian military contingent in Libya. This rhetoric may be related to US interests in the oil production in the region, for which it is necessary to remove Russia’s influence in the Middle East.

Disproof

The presence of Russian fighters of the Wagner Group has been confirmed not only by the Government of National Accord based in Tripoli but also by the US, the UK, the United Nations and the independent Russian outlet Meduza. An internal source in Wagner confirmed to Reuters that the group started recruiting Syrian fighters and sending them to Libya along with Russian private military contractors in 2019, a process that accelerated in the spring of 2020. In May 26, 2020, the US Command for Africa (AFRICOM) reported the presence of Russian warplanes in Libya, confirmed by satellite images (see here and here). By accusing the US of having an interest in Libya’s oil while denying Russia’s presence in the country, the article adheres to a recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative of accusing others of transgressions to deflect attention of its own misdeeds. You can see many other examples in our database, such as claims that Russia was expelled from G8 for no real reason, that not only there is no evidence of Russian meddling in the French, European and US elections but that it were foreign powers who interfered in Russian elections, that the presence of Russian mercenaries in Libya is just a rumour and Russia was never involved in Libya, or that by claiming that there are Russian warplanes in Libya, AFRICOM is waging a psy-op on US public.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 202
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 12/06/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Spanish, Castilian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Libya, US, Russia
  • Keywords: Natural resources, Anti-Russian, Foreign mercenaries
see more

Aegis Ashore missile defense system and MK-41 in Romania are an immediate threat to Russia

With the new (Defence) strategy, Romania will start acting like the Baltic States and Poland, which also shout about the Russian threat. Romania participates in anti-Russian NATO exercises and places American weapons on its territory. The US military base is operating in the country, where the Aegis Ashore missile defense system and launchers system MK-41 are installed. They can be used to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles. This is an immediate threat to Russia.

Disproof

The Aegis Ashore Missile Defence System is part of the European Phased Adapted Approach, designed to protect European NATO allies, and the U.S. deployed forces in the region, against current and emerging ballistic threats from the Middle East. U.S. Naval Forces ruled out the possibility of targeting the Russian Federation with the Aegis Ashore system. In August 2019 the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defence system in Romania completed scheduled update. This update did not provide any offensive capability to the Aegis Ashore missile defence system. The MK-41 launcher used at the Aegis Ashore Ballistic Missile Defence system deployed in Romania is only capable of launching defensive interceptor missiles. Russians have long claimed that the MK-41 VLS system allows Aegis Ashore to also launch ground-based cruise missiles. The accusation has been categorically rejected by Washington and NATO, which say the system does not have the software or the hardware needed to launch offensive ballistic or cruise missiles such as the Tomahawk, and its role is only to intercept missiles. The Romanian Defence Minister Teodor Melescanu also reiterated in February 2019 that "Aegis Ashore" was a strictly defensive system. See similar cases claiming that US deploys missiles prohibited by INF treaty in Poland and Romania or that US missile defence-bases in Romania and Poland are purposefully targeting Russia.

USA wants to divide Russian society before the constitutional referendum

The USA wants to divide Russian society before the constitutional referendum. A senior Russian security official pointed out that hostile Western actors would try to provoke “nationalist and separatist feelings” in the run-up to the national vote on the adoption of the new constitution on 1 July. The West is taking steps to “increase the informational pressure” with the aim of undermining Russia’s “spiritual, cultural, historical and moral values”. In his opinion, these alleged psychological operations are trying to reduce “feelings of national identity” in order to “divide Russian society”.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about the US presence in Europe, portraying the US as meddling in Russia's internal affairs. Russia is trying to pass a constitutional reform with voting on amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation from June 25 to July 1. The narrative of meddling in Russia is consistent with previous disinformation narratives that saw US-interference in the 2018 Presidential elections or deals with the alleged destabilization of Russia. See: the US is now trying to set up the colour revolutions matrix ahead of Russia’s 2018 Presidential elections and The organisers of “colour revolutions” in the CIS aim to destabilise the situation in Russia. Additionally, the recurrent narrative of "fundamental Russian values" (orthodox religion, traditional family etc.), is often presented as values opposing the "decadent" West, it does not reflect Russia's own reality and may serve as the justification of the failure of democratic processes in Russia.

George Soros funds far-left Democrat organisation aiming to oust Trump

Liberal financier George Soros has been exposed as a financial contributor to Refuse Fascism, a far-left Democrat organisation dedicated to removing Donald Trump from office. In an undercover video by Project Veritas, the head of Refuse Fascism’s Atlanta chapter reveals that the group received a “grant” from controversial billionaire Soros.

Disproof

The story advances the pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative alleging that the racial justice protests in the US are being spearheaded by violent left-wing groups which, in their turn, are financed by George Soros. Refuse Fascism is not a "Democrat" organisation. It was established following Trump's presidential victory in 2016, and espouses the principle of non-violent direct action in its activities. Crucially, the group is not affiliated with the US Democratic Party in any way. On the contrary, members of Refuse Fascism have criticised the party and expressed a "fundamental disbelief in [its] ability to stop Trump through electoral politics." Tee Stern, the member of Refuse Fascism filmed by Project Veritas, does not say that the group received a grant from Soros. In the heavily edited video, the activist says the following (2:15-2:33, brackets added by Project Veritas):

"We did apply for a grant from Soros at one point, a long time ago when I was doing more abortion rights and defending clinics. We actually did get a grant from them (Soros) around-- we started a thing called a 'National Day of Appreciation' for abortion providers."

It is not immediately clear from the statement whether the "grant" predates the establishment of Refuse Fascism, but it is certain that the funds were earmarked for an unrelated abortion-rights cause which Stern happened to be involved in. The claim that Soros' Open Society Foundation is bankrolling the demonstrators has been separately debunked by Politifact.