Romania is dragged in the war in Ukraine by foreign troops on its soil, according to a disinformation narrative promoted by an apparently pacifist organization.
Peace, the burning desire of Romanian nationalists
NEWS: “On August 6, several countries, including Romania, will commemorate the millions of people who died in wars across history, in useless, devastating and genocidal bombings. In order to remind everyone that nuclear warfare must be banned, in order to stop the arms race and prevent the start of World War III, Humanity for Peace has launched an international campaign, to which Romania subscribed. We, Romanians, are already exposed to a great threat due to the corrupt government that, after bringing the country to its knees, allowed foreign troops and military equipment, munitions, explosives, radioactive materials and other hazardous, unspecified goods to enter or transit Romania’s territory without the approval of the population. The government greenlit financial, humanitarian and military support instead of engaging in peace talks”. (Press release of the Movement for Peace civic organization)
NARRATIVE: NATO troops and support for Ukraine will bring war to Romania’s doorstep
BACKGROUND: Disarmament, stopping the arms race and banning the construction of nuclear weapons were the priorities of the “fight for peace” as described by communist propaganda. The thesis pitted the “war-mongering” West against East-European countries that sought peace, just as Moscow today demonizes the decadent West, lacking the moral and Christian values of the Russian World. In fact, the communists and the Soviet Union in particular, constantly fueled conflict between the two geopolitical blocs of the past century. A paradox by definition, the fight for peace often led to hilarious situations, such as the time when Nicolae Ceaușescu was declared a “hero of global peace”.
At present, the theme is part of Moscow’s arsenal of fake news and disinformation, used to justify claims that blame the West for the war in Ukraine. Since the start of the war, the Kremlin posed as a victim of NATO and the European community, forced to fight a “new war for the defense of the fatherland”. In its attempts to boost its reputation and rakky additional support, Russia launched several false narratives that targeted our country, stating even before the conflict that Romania would be dragged into a NATO-Russia war in Ukraine.
This time around, Moscow used the commemoration of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II as a pretext to revitalize this narrative. The initiative was launched by an American organization, Humanity for Peace, which among other things supports any form of assistance the West provides to Ukraine as well as the issolution of NATO. One of the “theorists” of this movement is Scott Ritter, a former American officer, suspected of being tied to the KGB. In 2022, Ritter said that thousands of Romanian servicemen are fighting in Ukraine.
In Romania, the narrative was picked up by “the Movement for Peace”, an organization that temporarily has no legal status. Movement for Peace was founded by “three women with no political affiliation, three mothers and wives who believe that women who give life must also safeguard it”, according to a response Veridica got to an inquiry submitted to the association. According to Georgeta Mihail, the Movement for Peace president, what triggered their reaction was the Defense Ministry decree no. M.192/2022, issued on November 17, 2022 and published in the Official Journal on November 29. However, the first website of the organization, vrempace.ro, which Mrs. Mihail also used in the signature of the email she sent to our office, was registered 11 days prior to the publication of the said decree, on November 6, 2022, according to data available on RoTLD – the .ro domain registry. The company that appears to own the site owns another webpage, registered in December 2022, which promotes another unregistered organization, the Unity of People, which fosters a nationalist, ultraconservative and ultrareligious rhetoric. Since its establishment, the Movement for Peace undertook a number of actions, including a protest at the military unit in Cincu, which hosts a regiment of NATO troops, which was supposed to be the first in a longer series of protests organized in every NATO base on Romania’s territory. The action was followed by several letters protesting war and “the destruction of Romanian orthodoxy and identity in Ukraine, Moldova and Romania” addressed to the Romanian Patriarchate, the Romanian Government, the Ministry of National Defense and the Romanian Parliament, as well as by a march expressing solidarity with the victims of the February quakes in Turkey and Syria.
The co-organizer of the protest in Cincu was Marius Constantin Crețu, a member of the Orthodox Brotherhood of Holy Glorious Great-martyr, Victory-bearer and Wonderworker George”, as well as the founder of the “Vatra Neamului” Foundation. Among other things, the foundation administers a private elderly nursing home in Prahova County, which received a fine from the Prahova County Consumer Protection Office for a number of irregularities identified during the inspection that was carried out in the wake of the elderly nursing homes scandal.
The Movement for Peace, Vatra Neamului and the New Right Association together called a “march for peace” in March, an event attended by the leader of the New Right party, Tudor Ionescu. In fact, the New Right was also associated with an event the Movement for Peace announced for August. The New Right is a political party based on the legionnaire doctrine, which militates, among other things, for combating the legalization of same-sex marriages and adoptions, banning abortions and revoking the law that bans fascist, legionnaire, racist or xenophobic organizations, symbols and actions.
PURPOSE: To fuel anti-Western sentiment by tapping into the fears of part of the population regarding the possibility that Romania might be dragged into the war. To amplify anti-Ukrainian sentiment.
A country cannot be invaded due to military operations it conducts within its own borders
WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: Romania is a full member of NATO and its reactions fall in line with NATO policy, consisting in the consolidation of NATO’s deterrence and defense posture on its eastern flank. NATO has repeatedly said it doesn’t want to get involved in the war in Ukraine, seeking to avoid any incident with Russian forces at any cost. Conversely, NATO pressured Moscow by introducing sanctions and supplied Ukraine with weapons, ammo, humanitarian aid and financial assistance.
The militants’ desire to prevent nuclear warfare is very noble, but it should be addressed to Russia, a country that repeatedly threatened to use its nuclear arsenal in Ukraine, unlike NATO, which never made such claims.
As regards the presence of foreign combatants on the territory of Romania, this is not something new, just as the Defense Ministry decree which the call to protest invokes doesn’t operate any fundamental change to the status of foreign troops and military transports on the territory of Romania. The decree merely extends the deadline for submitting requests to the Romanian Government in order to obtain the approval for foreign military forces entering, leaving or being stationed in Romania for a period of 10 up to 30 days. Indeed, right now, over 5,000 foreign servicemen are deployed to military bases in Mihail Kogălniceanu, Deveselu, Turda or Cincu. However, these troops are integrated into the Romanian defense forces, and play a purely defensive role. Hence they cannot be considered foreign troops stationed on Romania’s territory. Romania’s case is not an isolated one. Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, NATO decided to double the number of battalions on its eastern flank, sending troops to Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria. Stepping up a country’s defense capabilities does not represent a declaration of war, by any standards of international law and commonsense, except for the Kremlin’s propaganda. In fact, Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine under the guise of a hypothetical attack Kyiv was planning against Russia.
The idea that Romania could engage in peace talks is irrelevant and mistaken in the current context. Ukraine alone can decide if and when peace negotiations might begin. Romania is not a part of this conflict, which means it can at best mediate negotiations between the two belligerents.
To conclude, a potential Russian attack on Romania’s territory can only be the result of Moscow’s aggressive policies, while Bucharest cannot be blamed for seeking to shore up its defenses.
In fact, the arguments used by the Romanian peace militants were invalided by their own audience. Whereas the Movement for Peace managed to rally approximately 100 people for its event in March, this time the organization “totals around 45-50 stable followers”, of which only 30 attended the event. Asked who the speakers of the August 6 protest were, Georgeta Mihail said she spoke first, then the “microphone was offered to the protest participants after the high park (original script) model in London”. The failure of this protest action is also probably why, by the time this article was published, none of the websites and social media accounts associated with the three organizations has offered images, information or conclusions about this rally.