Lithuanian Army is the Target of New Fake News

On 20 March the Minister of National Defence of Lithuania and the Lithuanian Armed Forces got into the sight of propagandists, spreading fake news. This is already a second disinformation attack against the Lithuanian Armed F…

On 20 March the Minister of National Defence of Lithuania and the Lithuanian Armed Forces got into the sight of propagandists, spreading fake news. This is already a second disinformation attack against the Lithuanian Armed Forces and its NATO allies that was carried out in the background of spreading coronavirus pandemic. Let’s see the origin of all this.
As we know, in May in tenths of European states (including Lithuania) wide scale practices Defender Europe 2020 had to take place with the planned 20 thousand soldiers from the USA. Unfortunately, spreading of pandemic of coronavirus made cancel these plans. On 16 March when around 6 thousand US soldiers have already been sent to Europe, the Pentagon decided to stop posting its soldiers to the Old Continent because of the dangerous infection. Such a decision will have impact on four more NATO practices relating to Defender Europe 2020, three of them –   Joint Warfighting Assessment, Saber Strike and Swift Response also had to take place in the territory of Lithuania.
Raimundas Karoblis, Minister of the National Defence of Lithuania, reacted to the decision of partners in a calm and reasonable manner. He told that he was sure that correction of the plans of military practices was just temporary and rational measures and that after spread of the infection is stopped, co-operation of the Lithuanian army and USA will go back to normal.    
Everything would have ended this way if not for 16 March letters written on behalf of the Lithuanian Armed Forces that totally conflict with words of the Minister told a few days ago. In letters received by various foreign institutions, the press office of the NATO headquarters and Ministry of Defence of Poland and some of Lithuanian media among them, it was written as if R. Karoblis asked Americans to take part in the mentioned practices despite of the coronavirus risk.      
A credulous addressee could believe in such a letter, because Laimis Bratikas, Head of the Military Public Relations Division of the Strategic Communication Department of the Lithuanian Armed Forces was indicated as the sender of this letter. Moreover, it also said that such a request was passed during the meeting of the Lithuanian State Defence Council, which actually was held on 13 March.     
Nevertheless, one of the addresses did not believe in authenticity of this letter. Lithuanian partners immediately replied by asking to confirm its content and received a response that it was disinformation.  Specialists from National Cybersecurity and Department of Strategic Communication of the Lithuanian Armed Forces are investigating who and in what way this lie was distributed. Nobody has any doubts for what purpose these fake documents were sent and who would benefit from all this: Russia first of all is interested in compromising Lithuanian defence institutions among partners.  
As it has been mentioned before, this is the second case when the target of disinformation was the Lithuanian Armed Forces and its partners is relating to spreading of coronavirus. On 28 February, when hackers broke into the servers of the news portals kauno.diena.lt,  klaipeda.diena.lt, diena.lt,  kaunas.kasvyksta.lt  baltictimes.com, according to never published news of BNS, various Lithuanian authorities and municipalities received a falsified notification of the representative of Department of Strategic Communication of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, confirming the news posted in portals.    
From the first sight the fake news reminded of true news of the portal. Just some stylistic non-conformities and slightly different font of the notification could raise suspicion. As L. Bratikas, representative of the Armed Forced noted, this lie was focused on opposition of the public against the Lithuanian partners and contribution to spreading panic.     
We have had cases when fake news about the Lithuanian state defence system that were spread after breaking into the news portals or sending falsified letters far before the outbreak of the coronavirus risk. Last year in October a fake letter was received by media, NATO institutions and diplomatic departments from the e-mail media@urm.lt of the Communication and Cultural Diplomacy Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which contained a request of the President Gitanas Nausėda to establish the US military base in Lithuania and relocate the nuclear weapon that now is dislocated in Turkey.  We have to note here that nobody believed in this lie that tried to discredit military cooperation between Vilnius and Washington.
All experts of this sector admit that Russian disinformation and propaganda, which attempts to make direct impact on the national defence, to discredit it and break down willpower of citizens of Lithuania to resist, is not efficient. Despite of that, the stream of lies and disinformation grows every year like a snowball going downhill.    We have to mention that propagandists of the Kremlin now think much less about the quality of spreading information than years back. Thus, intensity of lies has become the main factor now – they hope to incorporate it into the minds of auditorium if they repeat it over and over again.     
The information war tries to affect people feelings, to attribute words that have not been said to authoritative and responsible persons or just spread lies about their personal life, that conflict with their held position in the propagandistic point of view. ‘A child was killed during NATO practices Saber Strike 2018 in Lithuania’. ‘Commander of the Lithuanian army: NATO is not defence but a threat’. ‘Minister of the National Defence of Lithuania Raimundas Karoblis admitted he is a gay’. These are just three headlines of fictitious news, spread hiding behind the names of well-known news portals or popular TV channels. We are not talking about all these lies spread on social networks and .    
Of course, not only theses drastic methods of propaganda have been used.  They are used for formation of the opinion that combat readiness of the Lithuanian Armed Forces is so bad that just one Russian company of paratroopers could destroy their resistance. There are attempts to raise doubts and motivation of the Lithuanian citizens to defend the country. Finally, one more motive is used that finds certain response among non-Lithuanian Internet commentators and in speeches of certain politicians who find themselves out of the court – as if the Armed Forces cost too much to people of Lithuania, welfare of the community, social protection and education are sacrificed to the benefit of it. However, this narrative is also not efficient and it makes impact on not more than 10 percent of the population. Thus, Russian propagandists will continue influencing our audience not in quality but quantity, thus the streams of lies and propaganda against us will further grow.   
 Aras Lukšas

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Autorius: Voras Online