Disinfo: West preparing large-scale smear campaign against Russian vaccine, including fake footage of mass patient deaths

Summary

The US and its allies are preparing a large-scale disinformation campaign targeting Russia's Sputnik V vaccine.

The campaign is a coordinated effort involving USAID, George Soros's Open Society Foundations, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the BBC, and the Reuters agency, and seeks to belittle Russia's achievements in the global fight against COVID-19. Among other things, the provocation will involve fake video footage of mass fatalities allegedly caused by Sputnik V.

Disproof

The report advances recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative of being 'encircled', 'under attack' casting Western actors as inherently biased against Russia; Western media as subservient to their respective governments; and Russia as a constant target of foreign "provocations."

Made without evidence, the assertion can be dismissed.

Russian officials and state media routinely prophesy oddly specific Western "provocations" against Russia which, for reasons unknown, never come to fruition. In 2019 alone, pro-Kremlin outlets said that NATO would kill its own officers to provoke a new conflict in Ukraine; that the UK would use its chemical labs to kill even more Russians; that the US was planning an anti-Russian operation in the Black Sea; that Canada was also planning an anti-Russian operation in the Black Sea; that NATO would intervene in Crimea to rig the Ukrainian presidential election.

In 2020, the "provocation" trope was used to explain away the arrest of Russian mercenaries in Belarus, the Moscow-sanctioned poisoning of Alexei Navalny, and the downing of MH17.

The specific allegation that Western actors fabricate video footage in the course of media "campaigns" against Russia and its allies is also seen in pro-Kremlin coverage of the Syrian civil war. In this context, chemical attacks known to have been perpetrated by the Assad regime are dismissed as "false-flag" operations by the White Helmets, Western governments, or Western-sponsored "terrorists."

See here for our explainer on the importance of paranoia in disinformation.

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  • Reported in: Issue 235
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 12/03/2021
  • Article language(s) Russian, French, Spanish, Castilian, Serbian, Português (Brazil), Czech, Polish
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Russia, US, UK, Europe
  • Keywords: Propaganda, Anti-Russian, George Soros, USAID, Mainstream media, Russophobia, vaccination, coronavirus, Provocation, Sputnik V, fake news, BBC
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Russia is being sanctioned for its sole existence

The West’s maniacal desire to impose sanctions on Russia is explained by the mere fact of Russia’s existence. The reason for these restrictive measures is that Moscow is protecting its national interests.

Disproof

This is a recurring narrative by pro-Kremlin media claiming that the anti-Russian sanctions are groundless and illegal.

In reality, the sanctions were imposed on Russia for its aggressive policy and violation of international law. The first round of restrictive measures was imposed in March 2014 in the wake of Russia’s illegal annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. More action against Moscow was taken in the following months, the reason being its support of the pro-Kremlin separatists in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas. Some sanctions were only political, such as the suspension of Russia’s voting rights in the Council of Europe. However, its voting rights were restored in 2019. In addition, bans were also imposed on transactions with some Russian businessmen and officials.

The UK uses an anti-Russian rhetoric as a cover, it aims at weakening the EU

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab recently visited the Baltic states and expressed his support to them in the face of the Russian threat. In fact, London uses an anti-Russian rhetoric as a cover-up in its foreign policy doctrine known as “Global Britain”. It wants to use the Baltic states and Ukraine as expendables to weaken the EU and, in particular, the German-French alliance.

Disproof

Disinformation aimed to discredit UK foreign policy and portray it as insidious and anti-EU as well as to question solidarity between the UK and EU member states.

Global Britain is a foreign policy concept used by UK officials. The September 2019 article, authored by UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, reads:

Kyiv ready to launch offensive in Donbas with Biden’s approval

Kyiv is ready to launch an offensive in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas with US President Joe Biden’s approval. Sources in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office say that the White House has already approved the military scenario, although it has ordered to wait for a signal.

Disproof

A recurring disinformation narrative from pro-Kremlin media outlets aiming at deflecting attention away from Russia's direct engagement in the conflict in Ukraine.

The US provides Ukraine with military equipment and trains its soldiers, but does not issue military orders. Since the outbreak of Moscow’s aggression against Kyiv in 2014, the US has supported Ukraine, but there is no direct military US involvement in the Donbas war. The European Union also supports Ukraine, with no direct military assistance.