Fake news operations aimed at discrediting allies

Fake news operations aimed at discrediting allies

Analysts of the Strategic Communication Department of the Lithuanian Armed Forces caught sight of a complex false information operations that unfolded in several phases aiming to discredit Lithuania's strategic ally, specifically, U.S. Amy Europe last week, May 22-28.

Representatives of the Lithuanian Armed Forces inform that the hostile information operation began immediately after the 13 May 2020 press release from the U.S. Army Europe concerning DEFENDER EUROPE 20 Plus international exercise being renewed in part of Europe, including Poland.

The operation was carried out in two phases. Two fake news articles were published during phase 1 on May 13 and 27. They presented a counterfeit "view" of Christopher G. Cavoli, U.S Army Europe, USAREUR Commanding General, and Col Patrick O'Neal, Commander of the U.S. Army 2nd Brigade Combat Team allegedly stating the Baltic states and Poland were not capable of training in such exercise. The second phase of the fake news operation unfolded on May 27: falsified e-mail letters pretending to have been sent by the Baltic News Service media organisation and the Minister of National Defence of Poland were sent to the Media, other countries, and international organisations. The letters included links to fake news articles and the "senders' " negative evaluation of the fake statements from Lt Gen Christopher G. Cavoli.

Lithuanian Armed Forces analytical staff also underscore that even as the situation concerning the COVID-19 pandemic is normalising, there are still attempts to use it for misguiding people and spreading disinformation. 58 information incidents were identified over the past week, over 60% of which were in Russian. In total, 1335 information incidents of different types concerning COVID-19 were seen in virtual space in Lithuanian, Russian, English, and French, from February 1 through May 28.

All kinds of conspiracy theories continue being spread about the former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates having financed development of the novel coronavirus and schemed the global pandemic, or unsanctioned protests against the Lithuanian state institutions are instigated by their organisers asserting the coronavirus is only a global financial fraud and the lockdown period is needed to install the 5G networks which will then be used for mass tracking and control of people.

National defence, NATO and Lithuania's allies are the other perennial targets of disinformation. The perpetrators seek to fuel negativity in the Lithuanian public towards the Armed Forces and defence financing, blame the European Union with "provoking" civil unrest in Belarus, and the union itself is said to lack completely in solidarity, ability to tackle the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and is on the verge of falling apart.

U.S. and Western European media is also blamed for "spreading" disinformation about the COVID-19 situation in Russia. The West is falsely claimed to wage an information attack against Russia and use the pandemic to internationally discredit both, Russia and China.

Information by the Strategic Information Department, Lithuanian Armed Forces
Photo credit: 1st Sgt Spc Ieva Budzeikaitė