Anti-NATO disinformation campaign

Narrative

Anti-NATO narratives in Moldova flourished based on the fact that on the 24th of March the President of the country ordered that the military and the police would patrol together in public places to maintain order and ensure that citizens comply with the quarantine regime and isolation at home during the pandemic. Additionally, a redundant PR move designed by the President took the tanks out in the street which made the alternative media capitalize on the narrative that NATO and US forces have invaded Moldova.

Likewise, the pro-Kremlin media seemed to have jubilated NATO’s suspension of its military exercises in Norway as several Defense Ministers have been infected with COVID-19. The narrative mentions the fact that NATO’s military exercises provide that Russia is a presumable enemy. Besides, the media seems to be scandalized about the fact that NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has called on member states to keep their target of spending 2% of gross domestic product on defense, despite pressure from the coronavirus pandemic on national budgets. In Moldovan public and media spheres, anti-NATO and anti-US messages are integrated in the same or complementary narratives.

Anti-US narratives explore the messages that even though the US considers itself a global leader, the US medical system could not cope with COVID-19 outbreak.


Quarantined NATO: the coronavirus has cancelled “the war with Russia”
Source: kp.md


Svetov: The US opposes Russia’s help to other countries in the fight against the pandemic
Source: Sputnik.md

Dissemination

Pro-Kremlin media

The dissemination of anti-NATO and anti-US narratives was managed by pro-Russian media mainly.

Pro-Kremlin media such as Sputnik.md or Kp.md exploited NATO’s weaknesses or its soon to be dissolution. It also targeted the NATO “Defender-Europe 20” exercise which was to take place in the spring of 2020 in one of the Baltic countries. The pro-Kremlin media insists on the fact that the pandemic proves that the US century is fading away because of the problems unfolded within the COVID-19 outbreak.

The narratives were covered by the media in the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia. Avtonomia.md – the news portal of the Gagauz Autonomous region published an article which stated that the US forces would establish in Europe on the pretext of COVID-19 pandemic. The article presented the ideas of the leader of the Reformist Communist Party (which performed poorly in 2014 elections), Ruslan Popa, who is well-known for his conspiracy posts, too.

Target

The narratives covered the Republic of Moldova, the Gagauz region included. Most of the articles were published in Russian and targeted the pro-Russian, anti- Western oriented electorate. In the Gagauz Autonomous region, the exploration of the topic aimed to fuel more the anti-Western sentiments and plead for more autonomy and closeness with Russia.

Disproof

NATO has launched a major aid campaign among its allies. The countries of the Alliance have organized and still organize air bridges to transport medical aid, protective equipment or patients. Besides, the Republic of Moldova requested assistance through the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Center (EADRCC). The EADRCC is NATO’s main disaster response mechanism.