Briefs

Lithuania: 3-9 October 2016

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A Lithuanian-language, pro-Kremlin website claims Washington ruined ceasefire talks in Syria.

Event: On 8 October, the Lithuanian-language, pro-Kremlin website ekspertai.eu blamed the United States for the collapse of recent Syria ceasefire talks with Russia. It claimed that bilateral relations had deteriorated over Syria because “American ‘hawks’ wanted and succeeded in destroying that dialogue.” According to ekspertai.eu, Moscow nevertheless is unconcerned, because “now it can continue military operations allowing the government of Bashar al-Assad to liberate Aleppo.”

The false facts or narrative: Ekspertai.eu voices Russia’s position on the Syria crisis, which falsely accuses the United States of trying to shift responsibility to Russia for the failure of the ceasefire talks.

Reality on the ground: On 3 October, U.S. broke off talks with Russia on implementing a ceasefire in Syria and accused Moscow of not living up to its commitments under the 9 September deal to halt fighting and ensure that aid reaches besieged communities. The ceasefire collapsed after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces—supported by an Iranian-backed militia and Russian air power—stepped up their offensive against rebel-held areas of Aleppo, bombing hospitals and damaging water supplies. As a result, the U.S. State Department said Washington would suspend its participation in bilateral channels with Russia that were established to end the fighting. U.S. officials say Moscow failed to live up to its previous diplomatic commitments and was either unwilling or unable to ensure the Assad regime’s adherence to the ceasefire provisions. Nevertheless, the Russian and U.S. militaries will continue to use a communications channel set up to prevent their forces from getting in each other’s way in the skies above Syria.

Techniques: Denying and falsifying facts, presenting opinion, discrediting.

Audience: Lithuanian public opinion.

Impact and analysis: The purpose of the story is to discredit U.S. policy in Syria and support the Kremlin approach, which is to ensure the survival of the Assad regime and maintain a permanent Russian presence in Syria. The website’s views correspond to the commentary provided by pro-Kremlin website ria.ru, whose military analyst Aleksandr Perendzhiev is quoted as saying that “effective Russia-U.S. cooperation is not possible because Russia and the U.S. have different goals; Russia is interested in a friendly peaceful and united Syrian Arab Republic. The U.S. is interested to overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad and to control the Syrian Arab Republic.”