DISINFORMATION: NATO will direct Afghan refugees to the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine
In the context of the Taliban taking power in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the US troops, the Russian media continues to promote a series of narratives about the refugee danger to Europe, blaming NATO for directing the migrant flow to Moldova and Ukraine.
NEWS: “Center for Modern Afghanistan Studies expert Nikita Mendkovich has explained how the United States is imposing refugee camps on other countries and who could cross the border pretending to be a refugee.
Unfortunately, the probability of refugees entering Moldova exists, given that there is a very big influx of refugees, which for now is hampered only by Taliban police measures, and the US and NATO countries, with which these people have cooperated for 20 years, wouldn’t accept them. Nikita Mendkovich, an expert with the Center for Modern Afghanistan Studies and the Russian International Affairs Council, spoke about this in the Sputnik Moldova studio.
“There have already been attempts to impose these refugee flows on Central Asian countries, and now attempts to impose refugee camps on other countries, which the US perceives as its satellites, are also very likely. Ukraine and Moldova could become subjects of such violations, if the Republic of Moldova will not be able to say “no” to the US and the European Union”, the expert says.
There will be fanatics among the refugees indeed, Mendkovici went on saying, because there have already been situations when some of the people who were taken out of their country by the USA turned out to be representatives of terrorist organizations. At the same time, the flow of refugees will be used by anybody that wants to.
“In conditions of chaos, without documents, real refugees who have collaborated with the Americans, criminal elements, terrorists and simply people looking for a better life in other countries could all get in. I believe that the influx of refugees from Afghanistan can become a very big problem for migration services and the Police”, the interlocutor concluded", Sputnik.md. writes.
NARRATIVE: NATO will direct Afghan refugees to the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.
LOCAL CONTEXT / ETHOS: The pro-Kremlin media used the topic of withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan and the Taliban capturing the state to discourage the Euro-Atlantic efforts of Ukraine, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova. Russian journalists have quoted experts close to Moscow as saying that NATO would leave non-Alliance countries alone to face their security issues and that only Russia has the capacity to protect the former post-Soviet states. Through narratives about the inability of the US and NATO to react, to defend their partners, to take care of the security of the Eurasian continent, Moscow is trying to discourage the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of the former Soviet states. The Russian press presents Moscow as the only security provider in the area and reveals NATO's “helplessness”.
More recently, the crisis in Afghanistan has been used by the Russian press to fuel fears and frustrations in Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova about refugees. Russian experts say that NATO will send Afghan refugees to the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, and these states will not be protected by anyone. Veridica has analyzed several narratives launched in The Republic of Moldova, Romania and Ukraine about refugees knocking on the doors of these states. Distorted information has already been identified in the Republic of Moldova, aimed to create panic in society about the “invasion” of the country by Afghan refugees, and to inoculate the idea that the pro-European government obeys orders from outside, to the detriment of its own citizens.
Also, citizens of Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova are watching the events in Belarus and Lithuania, former Soviet states, where there have been clear signs that an immigrant crisis is being created, used by Russia to carry out hybrid attacks on the West. The subject has been recently analyzed by Veridica. The crisis in Afghanistan is a perfect opportunity to revive old frustrations relating to the Syrian refugee crisis, which shook the EU and some Eastern Partnership states. The Syrian refugee crisis was used by Russia 6 years ago to launch hybrid attacks against the European unity.
PURPOSE: The purpose of the narrative is to sow fear and mistrust in national governments about a new wave of refugees and to present NATO as an international organization that will bring Afghans to the former Soviet states.
WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: There is no document or press statement from NATO leaders on directing refugees from Afghanistan to Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova. Moreover, the post-Soviet states have never been a priority for refugees, and they’ve just been transit countries on several occasions. Therefore, neither Ukraine nor the Republic of Moldova is an attractive destination for refugees.The Russian expert assumes, without any concrete evidence, that there will be many terrorists among the refugees and accuses the USA of sowing chaos in Afghanistan. It should be noted that the expert quoted by Sputnik is Nikita Mendkovici, an analyst with the Center for Modern Afghanistan Studies and the Russian International Affairs Council, but also a member of the Eurasian Analytical Club. The Russian state press regularly refers to the center’s website to dress the information they publish in “academic clothing”.
Neither the Republic of Moldova nor Ukraine is supposed to accept refugees by force, at the order of the USA, as stated in the narrative promoted by Sputnik.md.In fact, such messages continue the old ideological line of slandering the West, of discouraging Euro-Atlantic aspirations in the area. If in August the Russian press wrote that NATO, the EU, and the USA left Afghanistan alone to face their own problems, stating that Ukraine, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova would be “betrayed”, now readers learn that the West is “guilty” of the future big wave of Afghan refugees, some of whom, the narrators say, could be terrorists! In this way, the events in Afghanistan are used in the media to weaken popular support for the rapprochement with the EU and NATO.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: There are indeed fears in Eastern and Central Europe of a possible wave of refugees from Afghanistan. Recently, the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has announced that Vienna has prepared 18 million euros to help the refugees who remain in the countries neighboring Afghanistan. Most political leaders in the European area do not consider that non-EU countries, which are less attractive to migrants, could be affected. An alternative, according to Eastern EU leaders, would be for Europeans to turn once again to the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who in 2016 pledged to host millions of Syrian refugees and prevent them from leaving for Europe, in exchange for financial aid from Brussels.
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