While Italy is struggling with biological enemy, the stakeholders seek state’s withdrawal from the EU. To this end, an active campaign was launched in the social networks exactly at the moment when Russian military arrives in Italy. As the the Institute for Global Threats and Democratic Studies reports, the attack was organised from the Twitter accounts of non-Italian origin, which were created during February-March.
The recent example of disinformation was Russia’s accusation of Poland in closing their air space to military cargo aircraft carrying humanitarian aid to Italy. Close considerations lead to the conclusion that such accusations have no ground since the shortest air corridor from Moscow to the Pratica di Mare lies through Belarus, not through Poland.
A bulk of the accounts used to promote the Russian narratives are also involved in distributing anti-migration ideas and in support of Matteo Salvini. Italy’s withdrawal from the EU is actively promulgated by Kremlin as well while its organisation fell on the Lega Nord party. The fact that the same accounts were used to disseminate disinformation against Poland and support Russia may speak for the support and promotion of Lega Nord’s leader by Russia and existing agreements with the Italian far-right on mutual support and promotion of each other’s interests.
While Italians have often been critical to EU policy and membership due to the financial and material differences between the North and the South, this natural clash of opinions was severely sharpened from outside with the help of Russian information campaign. In fact, Russia is nor seeking Italy’s exit from the EU right now, their true purpose is destabilizing European formations and influencing public opinion.
NATO membership, on the contrary, is actively supported by Italians, and all anti-NATO calls have Russian stamp, especially when it comes to the Defender Europe 20 exercises with the participation of US troops.
Today the forces of pro-Russian accounts and information resources are focused on suppressing the dissemination of the article in LA Stampa, which reveal the useless of the 80% of the cargo carried to Italy for tackling coronavirus.
Another direction of the Russian disinformation campaign is targeted at the European states which are accused in failing to provide assistance to Italy in difficult times. The second stage of campaign deals with lifting sanctions from Kremlin together with establishment of close relationship.
It appeared that those who landed in the Pratica di Mare were journalists, make-up artists, stage lighting crew, and other individuals totally unrelated to medical staff. Some members of the so-called medical units in fact represented Russia’s Special Operations Forces. Their march across the state looks like propaganda operation at least, or rather even a practice exercise in landing of a military group with further moving to the set location.
The Russian military mission is led by General Sergey Kikot, who in 2019 defended Assad in The Hague, claiming no chemical weapons were used by the latter in Syria. Another members of the mission took part in the project involving the Ebola virus, carried out by Russian defense ministry’s 48th Central Research Institute and Vector SE, the company that back in the Soviet times was engaged in developing biological weapons and which was accused in attempting to create a new highly virulent hemorrhagic fever war virus. that these officers were introduced to the Italian side as members of the Kirov-based Military Medical Academy, although in fact they are part of the 48th Central Research Institute specializing in biological weapons.
It is expected that Russians gather information and collect biological material in Italy to counter the virus across their state, as far as according to the expert estimates, coronavirus outbreak in Russia will follow the Italian scenario.