Despite statements from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on the incontrovertible laboratory results proving the use of sarin in the Khan Sheikhun area of southern Idlib in Syria, pro-Kremlin outlets kept to last week’s practice of muddying the waters with disinformation about the issue.
This week, we saw the official newspaper of the Russian parliament claim that Russia had long ago handed over to the UN samples and other material in relation to an alleged use of chemicals as weapons in Aleppo, but that this evidence had been ignored. The OPCW has released a statement regarding this, clarifying that they never received any such evidence from the Russian authorities although they clearly welcomed such a contribution to their fact-finding work. This recalls a similar situation related to the downing of MH17, where Russia also claimed to have provided evidence which was “ignored”, only for investigators to state that they had received no such material.
Despite the evident use of chemical weapons, pro-Kremlin media stuck to their line that Syrian forces could not be the perpetrators, since there are no chemical weapons in their possession. However, the OPCW reported in August 2016 that it was able to confirm the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime after the date when the Syrian authorities had pledged to stop using them and had supposedly transferred all such material for destruction.
In a classic case of deflecting attention – and of intertwining the conflict in Syria with that in Ukraine – pro-Kremlin outlets also blamed Ukraine for the existence of chemical weapons in Syria, with no evidence. Meanwhile on the Ukraine theme, on Russian state TV, it was claimed that Russia does not participate in the military conflict in Donbass – despite overwhelming evidence of Russian military presence there (e.g. here, here and here).
The root to all evil
As we have explained before, pro-Kremlin disinformation tends to divide the world into two categories; the Evil West and Good Russia and this week is no exception. Thus the U.S was accused of designing the war in Ukraine, Daesh and a conflict with North Korea, all so as to “take” Russia and China.
The alleged “U.S design” for taking Russia and China, as shown on Russian state TV.
Furthermore, the U.S, Poland, France and Germany were all accused of supporting genocide in Ukraine – of which there is no evidence, even though some disinformation outlets also stated that US President Trump has claimed there is. (Similar disinformation was spread about former President Obama during his term.) France and Germany were also accused on Russian state TV of aiding Ukraine in creating a secret nuclear project with the aim to create its own nuclear weapons, on an episode called “Ukraine-nuclear power?”.
Among efforts at discrediting other voices, the recent ruling against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) was described as “absolutely groundless” by the Russian Ministry of Justice in TASS; election fraud was described as common practice in EU countries; and an interview with NATO General Secretary Mr. Stoltenberg was manipulated and presented as him stating that NATO is preparing a war with Russia. In fact he said quite the opposite, that NATO does not want confrontation with Russia.
“NATO does not want a confrontation with Russia” translated into “NATO preparing a war with Russia”, on Russian state TV.
Disinformation cases reported in the previous week