NARRATIVES: 1. Romania risks being drawn into a war with Russia because of the technical-military cooperation agreement it has signed with Ukraine. 2. Ukraine wants to start a war in Donbass. 3. Ukraine is supported and encouraged by the United States to start the conflict. 4. Washington is also pushing Romania towards this conflict.
LOCAL CONTEXT / ETHOS: Right from the start, the Russian Federation opposed NATO’s enlargement to the east and, in order to deter this enlargement, it has used various means, including attempts to intimidate the new member states and their citizens by making them believe that they are likely to become targets of Russian weapons, including nuclear. In this way, an attempt is being made to undermine confidence in NATO by inducing the fear of war. Officials and the media in Russia, figures in its entourage or promoted by its propaganda channels, but also "useful idiots" have been promoting for years the idea of the danger of a conflict with Russia. The main topic of disinformation about the agreement with Ukraine is therefore not new.
The author of the article is Sorin Roșca Stănescu, who in 2014 was sentenced to prison in the Rompetrol case for using inside information and belonging to an organized criminal group. Sorin Roșca Stănescu, who during the communist period was a collaborator of the Securitate (communist political police), was one of the most controversial journalists after the 1989 Revolution, involved in several scandals over time.
The agreement between the Romanian Government and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on technical-military cooperation, which Sorin Roșca Stănescu speaks about, is a Ukrainian initiative dating back to 2003 and approved by the Supreme Council of National Defense in 2005. This agreement mainly concerned the maintenance and modernization of the military equipment that both Romania and Ukraine had inherited from the communist period, when the former was a member of the Warsaw Pact and the latter was part of the USSR, the dominant force in the Pact.
As for a potential war between Ukraine and Russia, Moscow's media and influencers have been recently trying to suggest that Ukraine is preparing for a conflict and has the support of the United States to trigger it. Basically, Ukraine is accused of wanting to attack Russia in the Donbass - a territory that legally belongs to Kiev, but which broke away from the rest of Ukraine with the help of Russia. The conflict as a result of which the Donbass broke up took place after another act of aggression on Russia’s part, which seized and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Russia has recently conducted military exercises in Crimea and started concentrating troops near the border with Ukraine, which triggered a NATO reaction as well, but Ukraine is the one accused of aggression, and the regular rotation of Ukrainian troops, by means of which units in the conflict zone are withdrawn to rest and replaced by others, are described as a mobilization. The narrative of an imminent Ukrainian aggression against Russia started circulating in Romania too and has been taken over by the likes of "activist Ion Chitic", a lawyer involved in protests against anti-pandemic restrictions and intensely promoted by the Kremlin's propaganda tool, Sputnik.
PURPOSE: To undermine confidence in NATO and in the partnership with the United States. To induce a state of anxiety and fear among the population. To promote Russian narratives on the danger of Romania's NATO membership, as well as those on the imminence of a conflict in eastern Ukraine.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The technical-military cooperation agreement does not contain any provision on possible military assistance that one of the signatories would be obliged to provide to the second in case of war. This is not a military alliance or a defense treaty. The treaty regulates the field of armaments, allowing the acquisition of military equipment, production (including in joint projects), sale of production licenses, the repair and modernization of armaments, etc. The statement that "Romanians can become cannon fodder at any time" is a gross disinformation, given that there is no provision in the agreement that even a single Romanian soldier would be sent on a combat mission in Ukraine if the latter were involved in a war.
The hypothesis that Romania could be targeted by Russian retaliation for selling weapons to Ukraine is not supported either: it is common practice that, in the event of a war, the conflicting parties rebuild, including through imports, their ammunition and weapons inventories - except in cases where there is an international embargo, but even then, the arms are smuggled. Even the Russian Federation and, before it, the USSR, has sold massive quantities of weapons to countries involved in conflicts. If every time there was a war the countries supplying arms were attacked, history would be a long line of world wars and this is obviously not the case.
Finally, Romania is neither one of the largest arms manufacturers and exporters in the world, nor a significant military power, so its contribution would be rather negligible and would not justify the risk that Russia would assume by attacking it, given that such an attack would trigger Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.
As for Ukraine's alleged intention to attack the Russian Federation, the country has no military capability to embark on such an adventure: Russia far outstrips it in terms of conventional forces, equipment and personnel, and in addition, it also has nuclear weapons. A possible military operation to bring the separatist territories back under Kiev's control also seems unlikely given that they have Moscow's support.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: On September 5th, 2020, the Romanian Government signed an agreement with Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers on technical-military cooperation and adopted a bill ratifying the agreement on March 31st, 2021.