Aleksey Nikolskyi | Sputnik | Kremlin | Reuters
In an article published Wednesday by the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, it is claimed that Russia has “produced propaganda that blames the West for creating the virus.” Report author Sergey Sukhankin said the state is spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories via social media accounts, false information, state-controlled media, pseudo-scientists and Russians living in the West. The Kremlin previously denied such allegations.
“Putin’s biggest goal in propagating propaganda and conspiracy theories is to overthrow the West,” said Sukhankin.
“Russia seeks to seriously undermine solidarity among EU members and to capitalize on all of Europe’s internal weaknesses to promote wider conflicts. COVID-19 is considered an ideal means for Russia to deliver a powerful blow not only to the EU, but to damage the ties between Europe and its North American allies. “
Moscow also wanted revenge on the West for economic sanctions imposed on Russia for a variety of reasons, including its annexation of Crimea, added Sukhankin, warning that the Kremlin had seen an opportunity in the midst of the crisis to unravel the current world order.
“Moscow considers the virus to be a fortuitous omen of the end of the liberal world order after the Cold War,” said the report. “The new leaders who will emerge from this liberal collapse, from this point of view, will be Russia and China. Indeed, Russia is seeking to strengthen ties with China, as well as with Iran, and the danger is that other rogue states could join this new configuration. “
Speaking to CNBC on Tuesday, Keyu Jin, associate professor of economics at the London School of Economics, also said that China sees the coronavirus crisis as “the opportunity of the century” to establish a new role for itself. international scene.
On Wednesday, an updated report from the EU’s foreign policy branch, the European External Action Service (EEAS), said that countries like Russia and China were disseminating information about the coronavirus crisis. The EU has recorded more than 150 cases of pro-Kremlin misinformation on COVID-19 between the end of January and the end of March, the report said.
An earlier version of the EEAS report alleged that Russia had launched a disinformation campaign to “aggravate the public health crisis in Western countries … in accordance with the broader Kremlin strategy of trying to overthrow European societies,” according to Reuters.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov later dismissed the EU’s allegations as “baseless accusations”.
Meanwhile, US officials said in February that thousands of social media accounts linked to Russia had launched a coordinated campaign to spread fake news about the coronavirus, the Guardian reported.
A Kremlin spokesperson was not immediately available to comment when contacted by CNBC.