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Disinformation:

DISINFORMATION: Sanctions have strengthened Russia’s economy and the EU supports Russophobia in Ukraine and the Baltics

Disinformation

After a meeting in Moscow with the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the Russian media, in an extensive one-hour interview, that European and American sanctions had no ground or effect, because they’d strengthened the Russian economy, and the deterioration of the Brussels-Moscow relations occurred as a result of the EU's direct support for the coup in Ukraine and the Russophobia in the Baltic States. Following these developments, Russia was forced to no longer hold a joint summit with the EU. These reports are pieces of disinformation, developed by a number of media outlets in editorials and analyzes. In reality, Ukraine, the EU and the US have criticized Russia for its proven support for the Donbass mercenaries and denounced the illegal, internationally unrecognized and unprecedented annexation of Crimea. Although Lavrov claimed that the EU aggressed the Russian world, in reality Russia has repeatedly acted as an aggressor state, with Ukraine being only the latest case.

NEWS: “In 2014, the EU itself tore down the architecture of its diverse ties with Russia, which had been carefully created over the years. The main cause was the European Union's support for the unconstitutional coup in Ukraine, with a strong anti-Russian accent. As a result, the Russia-EU summits, held twice a year, and the joint meetings of the Russian government with the European Commission were suspended. The formats of the EU-Russia Permanent Partnership Council and dozens of sectoral dialogues are frozen. Earlier - long before the coup in Ukraine - at the insistence of EU member states, work was halted on a near-final draft agreement on short-stay visa-free travel for Russian and EU citizens. The reason: it is impossible, they say, to allow a visa-free regime for Russia until the EU offers it to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. And that is more evidence of direct politicization and an open anti-Russian subtext", Lavrov added.

Moreover, according to the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry, since 2004, when the Baltic States joined the EU, there has been an overt and consistent discrimination against the Russian-speaking population living there, and the Russian media activities have been under attack[…. ]

“People who had not attacked anyone [representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics] were declared terrorists, although the attack was carried out by an illegal regime that came to power as a result of a coup. And the West swallowed it, just as it swallowed the coup itself and swallowed the fact that the instigators of the coup immediately began to speak from Russophobic positions, including with regard to the Russian language in Ukraine as a whole. In response, the Donbass said "we want to be independent," but then agreed to negotiations, and Crimea voted to reunify with Russia. The Russophobic wave, which entailed those geopolitical changes in Ukraine and Crimea, was sanctioned, or at least the West did not object and even encouraged it, "Lavrov said.

[….]

"I am actually happy that we have such a history of sanctions - we have finally learned to understand that we have to rely only on ourselves. Sanctions are introduced for them to feel the satisfaction of punishing us, but sanctions do not lead to anything and cannot change our line of defense of our national interests, "Lavrov stressed.

[….]

The West does not need a strong Russia, they still remember the Russia of the 1990s, weak, unformed economically and politically, but still looking for its own path in the international arena. The US hopes that the Russian economy will be torn apart as a result of sanctions. This has not been the case; on the contrary, Russia has strengthened its economy, industry and defense, creating weapons that have no analogues, not even in the United States. Russia was also the first in the world to develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus."

Reality

NARRATIVES: 1. In 2014, an unconstitutional coup took place in Ukraine, which was supported by the EU. 2. The EU encourages Russophobia in Ukraine and the Baltic countries. 3. Anti-Russian sanctions have nothing to do with reality, and their effect is to strengthen the economy of the Russian Federation. 4. Crimea joined Russia because the population feared the Russophobia of the Ukrainian authorities. 5. Russia is a victim of the Russophobic actions of the West.

BACKGROUND: In 2013, following strong pressure from Russia, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych refused at the last minute to sign his country's association with the EU. This led to a large protest movement, known as the Euromaidan, which after a few months turned into a revolution as a result of the authorities' attempt to repress the protest, including by using war ammunition against the protesters. President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia and presidential and parliamentary elections were held, which were won by pro-European forces. In response, Russia took control of Crimea through the so-called "little green men", soldiers who did not wear national identification marks, and then annexed the peninsula following a referendum which was not recognized by the international community.

Also, Moscow supported separatist movements in the Donbass, sending weapons, ammunition, money and mercenaries. The EU and the US responded to the aggression by imposing sanctions on Russia. Moscow, on the other hand, invoked Crimea's right to self-determination and, despite existing evidence (direct testimonies, satellite and field photos, investigations into cases of Russians killed in battle, intelligence reports), denied any involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. At the same time, Moscow has accused the EU of encouraging Russophobia, and for several years has been intensely promoting, for the domestic public, a narrative according to which the cooling of relations between the Kremlin and Brussels is a consequence of Russia's unilateral decision, which can no longer bear the injustice inflicted upon the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine and the Baltic states.OBJECTIVE: The purpose of these disinformation campaigns framed in a series of metanarratives is to justify to the Russian public the steps taken by Moscow in relation to its neighbors, with the USA and the EU. Brussels is portrayed as an enemy of the Russian world, which encourages Russophobia and allowed the "coup d'etat" in Ukraine. Therefore, according to these narratives, Moscow is not an aggressor state, but a victim, being forced to defend itself. Such narratives are also promoted in international languages ​​in order to change the European and international public’s perceptions of Russia. Narratives are also promoted that seek to distort European realities and prove, for example, that human rights are being violated in EU countries - for example, the brutality of the police during protests, often taken out of context, is insisted on.WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The EU and US sanctions are not a political fad, as presented by the Russian foreign minister, they were introduced in response to Russia's aggressive actions and abuses (the annexation of Crimea, the conflict in Donbass, etc.). Each sanction introduced was first debated and well argued. The information that they have had a positive effect is actually disinformation meant to pressure EU and US policy makers to cancel them on the premise that they are not achieving their goal and thus those who have the most to lose are the Westerners themselves, who are losing business with the Russian market. In reality, the impact of the sanctions has been felt, especially since it has been accompanied by price drops in recent years on the hydrocarbon market (an essential export product for Russia) and, more recently, the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, estimated, after returning from a visit to Moscow during which the EU was insulted , that the sanctions led to a decrease in the Gross Domestic Product per capita of about 30%. In fact, even Lavrov admitted, between the lines, during the same interview, that there were concerns about a potential blocking of some of Russia’s economic sectors as a result of those sanctions. Crimea did not secede from Ukraine for fear of Russophobia, it was occupied militarily by a foreign power, the conflict in Donbass was stimulated and supported from the outside by Russia itself. There was no coup d'état in Ukraine, it was a popular uprising followed, anyway, by legitimate elections, recognized by the international community (as opposed to the pseudo-referendum held in occupied Crimea). The Russian press has added, commenting on Lavrov's statements, that the West wants to see Russia beaten to the ground, which does not coincide with any official stand of either Brussels or Washington. In most official statements and resolutions, the international community has called on Russia to return to dialogue and international law, stating that common prosperity and economic development are priorities in a multipolar world. The West, however, demands respect for international law and human rights.

  • Publication / Media:
    Ukraina.ru, the YouTube channel of the RFM, RIA Novosti, RT
  • Date of publication:
    15/02/2021
  • Language / Target audience:
    Russia’s population and the pro-Russia audience in the ex-Soviet space
  • Political affiliation:
    the Kremlin
  • Key narrative:
    The UE encourages Russophobia, and sanctions have no legal ground
Marin Gherman

16 Feb 2021
Marin Gherman

15 minutes read
  • Sergei Lavrov claims that European and American sanctions had no ground or effect, and the deterioration of the Brussels-Moscow relations occurred as a result of the EU's direct support for the coup in Ukraine. In fact, Ukraine, the EU and the US have criticized Russia for its proven support for the Donbass mercenaries and denounced the illegal, internationally unrecognized and unprecedented in post-War Europe annexation of Crimea.
  • NARRATIVES: 1. In 2014, an unconstitutional coup took place in Ukraine, which was supported by the EU. 2. The EU encourages Russophobia in Ukraine and the Baltic countries. 3. Anti-Russian sanctions have nothing to do with reality, and their effect is to strengthen the economy of the Russian Federation. 4. Crimea joined Russia because the population feared the Russophobia of the Ukrainian authorities. 5. Russia is a victim of the Russophobic actions of the West.
  • OBJECTIVE: The purpose of these disinformation campaigns framed in a series of metanarratives is to justify to the Russian public the steps taken by Moscow in relation to its neighbors, with the USA and the EU. Brussels is portrayed as an enemy of the Russian world, which encourages Russophobia and allowed the "coup d'etat" in Ukraine. Therefore, according to these narratives, Moscow is not an aggressor state, but a victim, being forced to defend itself. Such narratives are also promoted in international languages in order to change the European and international public’s perceptions of Russia. Narratives are also promoted that seek to distort European realities and prove, for example, that human rights are being violated in EU countries - for example, the brutality of the police during protests, often taken out of context, is insisted on.
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