Briefs

Lithuania - 7-13 June 2016

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  • Lietuva. 2016 m. birželio 7-13 d.  Šį straipsnį taip pat galite skaityti lietuvių kalba
A commentator for a leading Russian-language website argues that NATO military exercises are aimed at intimidating Russia.   

Object of manipulation: www.rubaltic.ru, a Russian-language, self-described “analytical” website serving the Baltic states and run by the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University in Kaliningrad (Kaliningrad University). 

Date: 7 June 2016


Author: Aleksandr Nosovich 


Source of manipulation: NATO’s largest military exercises since the Cold War are taking place in Poland, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania a month prior to the NATO Summit in Warsaw.

Date: 7 June 2016

Title: Details about these exercises come from the press services of NATO and national military forces. Lithuanian and international media are covering them extensively. 


The false narrative: manipulation: In his article for rubaltic.ru, Nosovich—who is well-known for his pro-Kremlin sentiments—comments on the NATO military exercises now underway in Poland, Germany, Sweden, Finland and the Baltics. He notes that one month before the NATO Summit in Warsaw, the alliance will stage its biggest military exercises since the Cold War—nicknamed Anakonda 2016, Saber Strike 2016 and Baltops 2016—along the Russian border. Claiming that these exercises are obvious moves intended to intimidate Russia, Nosovich ironically uses the epithet “peacemakers” to describe NATO troops. He then presents facts he says illustrate the opposite of “peacemaking” such as how many troops are participating, what operations are being conducted and how much ammunition is being used in order to refute the claim they are “peacemaking.” He also says the fact that NATO is using offensive rather than defensive weapons undermines its claim that it has peaceful goals.  Nosovich further sees a symbolic parallel demonstrating the alliance’s hostile intent: the two B-52 bombers that attacked Serbia and Montenegro during the 1999 Yugoslavia war will participate in the Anakonda 2016 military drills. In addition, France has never before sent troops abroad, except the French army now in Africa. Another new aspect of the NATO exercise, according to Nosovich, is the participation of two neutral Scandinavian countries: Sweden and Finland. He concludes that the intent of holding the exercises only a month before the NATO Summit in Warsaw is to threaten Russia.  

Facts on the Ground: Large-scale military training exercises involving 30,000 troops from more than 20 NATO and partner countries have begun in Poland, Germany, Sweden, Finland and the Baltics. The exercises—which include many vehicles, ships, fighter jets and helicopters—are taking place only one month before a NATO summit in Warsaw that is expected to result in even more troops to be stationed in Eastern Europe. According to NATO, the exercises are a defensive response to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine. NATO officials have also expressed concern about Russia’s recent military exercises in which thousands of Russian troops conducted war games without giving the alliance any prior warning. For the sake of transparency and confidence building, NATO has registered its biannual Anakonda exercise in Poland (first conducted a decade ago) with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). 

Technique: Manipulation, card stacking and selective use of facts to build an argument. The article’s detailed description of the scope of NATO’s military exercises aims to convey the message that NATO is an aggressor, not a “peacemaker.” It cites the presence of two B-52 fighter jets the author claims bombed Serbia—a Russian ally—during the Yugoslavia war, as  proof of the alliance’s aggressive intent. It uses the participation of traditionally neutral Sweden and Finland and the unusual presence of French troops to try to show that this activity is not ordinary military training.

Audience: Russian-speaking segments of society in Lithuania, the Baltic states and the West, as well as Russia itself. Lithuania’s Russian-speaking audience is mixed and includes many ethnic minorities such as such as Russians, Poles, Tartars, Jews, Belarussians, Ukrainians and others, as well as Lithuanians whose second language is Russian.

Analysis: In a manipulative way, the article lays out a familiar Kremlin narrative: that NATO is an aggressor, that the region is being “militarized” and that the threat to Russia is very serious. The author calls the Baltics states “Pribaltika,” a Soviet-era term to describe Lithuania, Latvia,and Estonia—thereby creating the impression that those three states are or ought to be under Kremlin domination.  

These NATO military exercises have dominated the hostile Russian-language online media in recent days:  www.vz.ru (NATO maneuvers with the participation of 5,000 troops began in Lithuania);www.newsru.com  (NATO military exercises in Poland do not contribute to trust and security in Europe,they have stated in the Kremlin);  declared the Kremlin); www.eadaily.com  (“Anakonda” smothers Russia with the ring of “NATO youngsters”(ed. The new NATO members admitted since 2004): toward the NATO summit in Warsaw).