Fact checking of the week: Misleading interpretations about /Russia-Ukraine stand-off

The military build-up by the Russian Federation at the border with Ukraine has led to the proliferation of misleading or distorted claims about the root causes of the tensions and about the role of NATO, EU and Romania in case of the further deterioration of the stand-off. Such claims appear periodically on websites, blogs, Facebook groups or pages, and promote several narratives, such as: “Romania is forced into a war which does not serve its interest”, “Romania, cannon fodder in a war started by others”, or “Romania, abandoned/ left alone by NATO / the West in case of an invasion” (sitting duck narrative). Recently, such narratives have converged with misleading narratives questioning the pandemic measures and the vaccination campaign, claiming, for example, that “the hysteria created by the West around a Russian invasion is a means to distract public attention from the failure to deal with the pandemic”. Such narratives lack evidence, appeal to strong emotions, while trying to amplify negative views of NATO, EU, or the United States.

The facts

According to a recent EuvsDisinfo report, the ongoing military build-up at the Ukrainian border, that started in the spring of 2021 has intensified the circulation of various myths and misleading narratives related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The most prevalent myths and narratives claim that “the current crisis is the fault of NATO and the West”, “the EU and the West have abandoned/ betrayed Ukraine”, or that “the EU is irrelevant and unable to handle crises, be it the Russia-Ukraine conflict, or any other international issue.”

These interpretations circulating at a transnational level are also adapted to the Romanian socio-cultural context. Most of them promote the idea that “the EU’s handling of the pandemic has been a tremendous failure” or that “the European Union is in decline/ on the verge of collapse”. These narratives lack evidence and have been promoted since the beginning of the pandemic, fueling negative views and sentiments towards EU institutions and leaders.

In addition, claims according to which NATO “will abandon Romania in case of war” are misleading and lack evidence. According to the Ministry of National Defense brief, recent measures aimed to increase NATO’s presence in Romania represent a decisive message about the cohesion and resolve of the Alliance. Moreover, according to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which lays down the principle of collective defense, an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies.

Our rating: misleading claims

Most of these misleading interpretations sow and amplify negative perceptions towards the existing relations between Romania and NATO, EU or USA, trying to exploit potentially controversial topics, in this case, the breakout of war.

Misleading narratives fueled by such claims/ blog articles/ social media posts:

  • “Romania is thrown into war against its will”;
  • “Romanian citizens are cannon fodder in a war started by others!”;
  • “Romaniais a colony of the West”; “Romania is ruled by foreign powers”; “Romania has no decision making power, it has completely relegated such power to NATO and the EU”;
  • “Romania will be abandoned/ left alone by its Western partners”;
  • “Western hysteria about Russia’s invasion is just a ploy to distract public attention from the failure to deal with the pandemic”;
  • “The Western/ global elites who faked the pandemic want to start a war with Russia to hide the global pandemic genocide”.

Our fact-checking sources:

euvsdisinfo.eu – Disinformation about the current Russia-Ukraine conflict – seven myths debunked

euvsdisinfo.eu – DISINFO: NATO VIOLATED ITS PLEDGE NOT TO MOVE EASTWARDS

facebook.com – Grupul de luptă NATO în România, la capabilitatea inițială

consilium.europa.eu – COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic: the EU’s response

nato.int –  The North Atlantic Treaty

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