Briefs

Lithuania - 1-7 February 2016

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  • Nedraugiškos žiniasklaidos apžvalga 2016 m. vasario 1 - 7 d.  Šį straipsnį taip pat galite skaityti lietuvių kalba
False narratives:

During the period under review, the hostile media continued and strengthened the narrative against Lithuania’s membership in NATO. The key message was that the rapid growth of NATO presence in the Baltic region posed a potential risk of World War III. It was claimed that NATO was the aggressor, that NATO deployment in the eastern part of the EU was growing rapidly, and that the political conflict between NATO and Russia would soon turn into a war .

It was also claimed that NATO violated the agreement signed with Russia in 1997 according to which the parties were not to deploy a large number of troops on the territory of Russia and new NATO member countries . Moreover, it was argued that the Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian brigade (LITPOLUKRBRIG) was directed against Russia, as it was formed to fight against Russia in Ukraine . In addition, after the Pentagon unveiled its plan under which the financing of the US military presence in Europe could increase fourfold (from 800 million to $ 3.4 billion) and the Baltic States will be supplied with additional weapons and equipment, the Kremlin accused the USA and NATO in destabilising security in Europe . It was also argued that in case of conflict NATO will be defeated by Russia   in the Baltic States, pointing to the findings of the Strategic Research Centre RAND research about the vulnerability of NATO’s eastern wing

Another narrative - the EU membership of the Baltic States.  For this purpose the Rail Baltica project was critically analysed. The purpose  is to diminish the value of the EU membership for the Baltic Sates as well as their plans to implement joined Baltic-EU projects. The information about the Rail Baltica project is distorted, its importance of the project is militarized. It is emphasized that NATO is interested in the Rail Baltica project: by the European railway track Warsaw-Tallinn NATO will be able to fast-track delivery of military equipment and weapons to its allies in the Baltic region; NATO is actively involved in the militarization of the eastern borders of the Alliance.

Another narrative was to question the value of membership of the Baltic States in the EU. For this purpose, the Rail Baltica project was critically analysed. The aim was to diminish the value of the EU membership for the Baltic States as well as to undermine their plans to implement joint Baltic-EU projects. The information about the Rail Baltica project was distorted and the importance of the project was militarised. It was pointed out that NATO was interested in the Rail Baltica project since NATO would be able to fast-track delivery of military equipment and weapons to its allies  in the Baltic region  via the European railway track from Warsaw to Tallinn. It was also argued that NATO was actively involved in the militarisation of the eastern borders of the Alliance.

The Truth:
 
NATO intends to abide by its international commitments even perhaps when others do not.  NATO is a defensive alliance, it has always been a defensive alliance.  NATO will meet its commitments for collective defense, and that’s what the military equipment deployed in Europe is about. 

The project Rail Baltica is one of the most important strategic projects in the Baltic States, which will connect five EU members’ states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Germany) by the European railway and will enable the Baltic States to integrate into the international transport network, to expand the passengers’ and cargo transport, to develop tourism. The economic benefits of the project are not in doubt. 

The Technique: 

 the card stacking, manipulation of facts and context, etc. 

The Target/ Audience:

 the Russian speaking population of the Baltic States, also those who do not support the state policy of Lithuania or are dissatisfied with the standards of their living.
Lithuanian mainstream media is pro-European and fully supports Lithuania‘s strategic direction. The Kremlin information has not been spotted there;  neither it was “quoted” in the radical (marginal) online media: www.ekspertai.eu; www.sauksmas.lt; www.sarmatas.lt; www.versija.lt. These sites have a small segment of the Lithuanian audience (in total up to 17 000 visitors).

Analysis:

 Greater NATO security, increased national defence spending and stronger NATO presence in the Baltic States are undesirable to the Kremlin. Therefore, the hostile mass media attempts to spread (and sow the seed of) fear of war among the population of the Baltic States and Russia. What is more, Russia aims to create the image of a victim, claiming that Russia’s security is threatened and that Russia will be forced to defend itself. Such message is very effective among the Russian population due to the vivid memories of WWII. On the other hand, the Kremlin signals to the international community that Russia is forced to increase its military presence in Kaliningrad; this sounds like a threat (a measure of deterrence) to the West and NATO.

The implementation of the Rail Baltica project means that Lithuania (and the Baltic States) has liberated itself from the economic, energy and logistical dependence on Russia. This runs counter to the interests of the Kremlin; therefore, the Rail Baltica has been greatly criticised in the media. It is expected that information attacks will continue.

Monitored hostile online media: regnum.ru; rusplt.ru; insomni.ru; ru.bb.vesti.lv, rubaltic.ru; kompravda.eu; sauksmas.lt, sarmata.lt, versija.lt, ekspertai.eu.