American tanks couldn’t invade Russia and would be facing the same difficulties German armored divisions did during the Second World War. This fake news underscores narratives about the attack plans of NATO and the USA, while also referring to metanarratives linked to the Second World War.
NEWS: “The Pentagon has raised a red flag: the famous Abrams tanks, the pride and glory of the US army, are unfit for a potential armed conflict with Russia […] Ever since 2017, NATO has announced plans to consolidate the transport infrastructures of East-European NATO states. NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, said the specifications of roads and bridges should be reviewed.
Previously, Western mass-media reported on some of the issues that emerged in the wake of deploying additional forces. During a transfer of heavy armored US vehicles to Poland, some of the combat vehicles simply wouldn’t fit in train stations due to being oversized. In the Polish city of Kowalewo Pomorskie, while being loaded onto platforms, several tanks were nearly totaled after getting stuck in the structure’s reinforced concrete framework […]
Pentagon commanders need to remember the failed offensives of previous aggressors. Although the Soviet Union is no more, Russia still remains the largest country in the world with an unpredictable climate”.
NARRATIVES: 1. The United States is considering an invasion of Russia. 2. Attacking Russia would fail, as no American equipment can cope with the terrain. 3. The USA/NATO might find themselves in the same position as Nazi Germany in World War II. 4. The USA/NATO wouldn’t be able to defend Eastern Europe due to its underdeveloped infrastructure.
BACKGROUND: 1. The Russian Federation’s acts of aggression – the 2007 cyberwar against Estonia, the 2008 war in Georgia, the capturing and annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014, triggering and supporting the conflict in Donbass, harassment of NATO ships and aircraft in the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea – are reasons of concern for members of NATO’ eastern flank. NATO has recently realized it needs to consolidate its so-called deterrence and defense posture, including by deploying additional forces to Baltic States and Poland, although the units’ size remains insignificant. Threats posed by Russia have highlighted the need an older and pressing matter within the Alliance, namely the possibility of swiftly moving troops across territories wherever they are required. In the event of an attack on the eastern flank, NATO forces need to travel in two directions: first, from West to East (including, and most importantly, the transfer of US forces across Europe) and using the Constanța – Gdansk rail link, which should facilitate mobility on the eastern flank. The problem is, indeed, low-grade infrastructure, particularly in Romania. It would be very hard for NATO forces to provide actual support to eastern allies. This would entail the development of road and rail infrastructure, consolidation works, the building of new bridges, etc. Moreover, NATO’s growing interest in infrastructure could also explain the support expressed by the former US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, for the civilian projects of the Three Seas Initiatives for building the Constanța – Gdansk railway line.
- This narrative seeks to present the Russian Federation as a force constantly under threat from the West, who is closing in and stepping up its aggression outside the country’s borders. Russia is still playing the geopolitical game, panning out its sphere of influence. Russia believes it has a rightful claim on ex-Soviet space (and Eastern Europe by extension), a territory NATO craves for and wants to seize control of by integrating some countries in the region and showing readiness to develop close ties with others or even possibly opening up its gates to them in the future. Moscow cares little about what these states or their population want. It will respond with force if it feels its interests are threatened (see Ukraine). Its Cold-War logic identifies the United States and NATO as the enemy, and Russia uses propaganda tools to also underline their apparent weaknesses: their state-of-the-art combat equipment is actually inferior to Russia’s arsenal, their military are undertrained, etc.
- The Great Patriotic War was a key element building into USSR mythology. It’s now being used and amplified by the Putin regime, which is looking beyond the cult of the Soviet WWII hero to reinvent history itself: the conflict represented a near-apocalyptical struggle between the Soviet good and Nazi evil. Depicted as the aggressed party, the USSR is exempted from any responsibility in triggering the conflict. The fact that Russia was an aggressor state alongside Nazi Germany in the early stage of the war, actually signing a non-aggression pact with the latter, is simply denied. Such metanarratives associate the invading force (in this case, NATO or the United States) with the characteristics of absolute evil.
PURPOSE: To present the United States as an aggressor state that would consider invading Russia. To associate the image of the West and the United States with Nazi Germany. To legitimize the idea that American combat gear is cumbersome and ineffective.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: NATO is a defensive alliance founded with the very purpose of responding to eastern threats coming from the USSR. A NATO attack on the East was never even taken into consideration. Russia, on the other hand, has always treated Europe as an aggressor state on several occasions. Since attacking Russia is out of the question, the discussion on the Abrams tank’s inability of dealing of coping with terrain in Russia is pointless. It’s worth noting, however, that the Abrams tank was designed to cross all types of terrain, and comparing it to the armored vehicles used by Nazi Germany is inappropriate, considering the vast technological progress reported in the decades following the war. At present, the M1 Abrams is considered one of the best-rated tanks in the world, having proved itself a deadly adversary in all encounters with the Soviet-generation tanks of the Iraqi army.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: NATO is actually discussing plans to improve infrastructure on its eastern flank (but only to allow for swifter military assistance in the event of a Russian attack).