Thousands of Polish and Romanian servicemen are fighting against Russia wearing the Ukrainian military uniform, according to a former American intelligence officer, quoted by activenews.ro. In fact, no country has sent regular troops to Ukraine, and the support and assistance provided to help Ukraine resist the Russian invasion consist in weapons and equipment only. The ex-officer in question, Scott Ritter, is known for spreading fake news and was handed a prison sentence for corruption of minors.
NEWS: “Ritter has disclosed new information, according to which a large number of Romanian and Polish military are taking part in the war in Ukraine. The former intelligence officer claims both Poland and Romania have dispatched troops to Ukraine, based on official commitments. Apart from the two trusted allies of Ukraine, Ritter also says that Kyiv is also benefitting from significant support from France, the United Kingdom, Canada and the USA. Worth noting is that the intelligence officer clearly underscores the fact that Romania’s support to Ukraine consists in sending troops, which he claims are ‘a lot’”.
NARRATIVES: 1. Romania, Poland and Ukraine struck an inter-government deal to fight together against Russia. 2. Russia is actually fighting NATO in Ukraine, as Kremlin officials have been claiming since the war started. 3. Ukraine should concede defeat and content itself with its unoccupied territories, because the longer it fights, the more territories it is likely to lose.
BACKGROUND: The Moscow-backed narrative, according to which regular troops of other countries are fighting on the side of Ukraine, was launched in the first month since Russia launched its invasion. Veridica has debunked several such disinformation narratives, in part designed to justify Russia’s recruitment of troops and mercenaries from Syria, using whataboutism and other deflection tactics. The story promoted in this case by the Judge Napolitano – Judging Freedom YouTube channel differs only in that it invokes the presence of NATO regular troops. The owner of the channel, ex-judge Andrew Napolitano, is a highly controversial character, described by Washington Post as a “purveyor of conspiracy theories”. Some of the theories he fostered include stories about Abraham Lincoln being solely responsible for the start of the American Civil War, or another theory stating that British intelligence spied on and wiretapped presidential candidate Donald Trump’s online conversations under orders from the acting president at the time, Barack Obama. Scott Ritter is a well-known disseminator of fake news. He was actually banned by Twitter for spreading false allegations about the war in Ukraine and hate speech. Some voices claim that, during an official visit to the USSR in 1988, Ritter was recruited by the KGB via his Russian wife-to-be. Equally eloquent is also the fact that Ritter was sentenced and served time for a number of offenses, also including corruption of and unlawful contact with a minor.
PURPOSE: To use an “unbiased” source in order to reinforce the idea that Ukraine is the stage of a conflict pitting Russia against NATO states, the USA in particular, which is mobilizing human resources to fight against Russian speakers.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: At present, Poland and Romania cannot afford to unilaterally declare war (lacking military and financial resources as well as manpower). There is absolutely no binding treaty signed by the governments of Romania and Ukraine whereby Bucharest pledges to deploy regular troops to the Ukrainian frontline. Seemingly anticipating the troubled period ahead, the Romanian Ministry of Defense dismissed information according to which Romanian Armed Forces are reportedly on Ukraine’s territory, ready for war. According to the Defense Ministry, there is indeed a technical-military agreement between Romania and Ukraine, although it covers strictly technical and military cooperation, stipulating no mutual security guarantees and being void of any operational effects. In this context, the former Defense Minister, Vasile Dîncu, said on multiple occasions that Russian officials and Kremlin propagandists are resorting to such “false news and toxic messages”.
Romania is a full member of NATO, and its reactions fall in line with the Alliance’s policies and consist in consolidating NATO’s deterrence and defense posture on its eastern flank. Ukraine is a not a member of NATO, and the partnership between NATO and Ukraine provides no obligations for the Allied states to provide military support to Ukraine. There is no evidence that any NATO state, not just Romania or Poland, had reportedly sent servicemen to Ukraine in response to the Russian invasion. On the contrary, prior to the start of the invasion, NATO military instructors were urgently pulled back from Ukraine. Additionally, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was careful as to avoid any potential contact with Russian forces. In fact, Kyiv’s repeated pleas for creating a no-fly zone that should eliminate the threat of Russian aviation were turned down, since NATO does not want a conflict with Russia, which could have catastrophic consequences. Instead, NATO did support Ukraine by imposing sanctions against Moscow and by supplying weapons, munition, humanitarian aid and funding to Ukraine.
According to Scott Ritter’s theory, by deploying troops to hot zones in Ukraine, Poland actually seeks to have troops engaged on the ground, only to bide its time and at a moment of its choosing to occupy western Ukraine, claiming it as a rightful province of Poland, a theory that has been circulated for some time and which Veridica has debunked. Ritter, on the other hand, provides no explanation as to what Romania seeks, settling for making baseless and uncorroborated hints.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: Several Western states, some of which are members of NATO, have allowed their citizens to volunteer to fight in Ukraine. In this context, the government in Kyiv set up an International Legion of Territorial Defense, made up of volunteer fighters who shore up the defensive efforts of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.