Artis Pabriks: Attempts to attack information space with deceptive messages are a sign of potential adversary’s inferiority complex

04/27/2020
International coopertion
In Latvia
Information prepared by
Media Relations Section

Ministry of Defence has been observing intensifying attempts to spread disinformation about the Ministry of Defence of Latvia and various NATO units since the outbreak of the Covid-19 disease. A more recent attack involved an English-language online news media TheDuran.com which published a false article claiming that 20 or 21 NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battle group Latvia troops have been infected with Covid-19. 

‘Such attempts to attack information space with deceptive messages are a sign of potential adversary’s inferiority complex. Being so afraid of a couple of thousand allied troops in one of the Baltic countries to constantly try to falsely blame them for everything means that either the author has some kind of self-esteem issues, or that there is some sort of total political confusion in one of our neighbouring countries, which may mean that they are struggling to cope with impact of Covid-19 themselves. That is why they rather choose to point fingers at their neighbours and say: ‘Look, they are on fire!’ Moreover, contrary to some of our Eastern neighbours we are not trying to hide the data about Covid-19 cases,’ said Defence Minister Artis Pabriks while also underlining that enemies of the West are trying to take advantage of the current crisis and global Covid-19 pandemic.  

Ministry of Defence would like to clarify that during his deployment in Latvia, commander of the NATO eFP battle group Latvia, Lt-Col Eric Angell, who is the source of information according to the author, has not given any interviews to Latvian media. Any claims that information about allegedly infected soldiers has come from Lt-Col Eric Angell are false. Apart from obviously misleading facts, given by the author named Edgars Palladis, article also contains several other errors. First, the heading, which says that 20 Canadian soldiers have tested positive for Covid-19 in Latvia, while the fake quote of the commander of the multi-nation battle group Lt-Col Eric Angell that follows gives an entirely different number of Covid-19 infections, claiming that Covid-19 has hit 21 soldier.  Palladis has also demonstrated his incompetence by choosing the wrong images for his misleading article. Instead of finding images with Canadian troops, he has chosen images Latvian troops from one of military exercises. As previously officially confirmed on several occasions, only four allied troops stationed in Latvia have tested positive for Covid-19 and most of them have recovered successfully.

Ministry of Defence would like to underline that this is not the first time that online news outlet TheDuran.com has published fake news. As reported earlier, Ministry of Defence has received fake news with fake e-mail message from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to Lithuanian Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis on alleged withdrawal of allied troops of NATO eFP battle group Lithuania from the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

‘NATO has confirmed that e-mail is fake. It has also reaffirmed its commitment to ensure continued presence of multi-national battle groups in Baltics and Poland. Such fake news is a reminder to our society that we need to be extra vigilant during Covid-19 pandemic, we must carefully analyse information released by different sources to avoid being manipulated,’ stressed the Defence Minister Pabriks.

NATO will continue its joint efforts to counter disinformation linked to spread of Coronavirus and has confirmed that it will work closely together with its allies and partners to identify, monitor and expose fake news. 

NATO enhanced Forward Presence battle groups deployed in Baltics and Poland contribute to NATO’s deterrence policy and Alliance’s collective defence. They also demonstrate the solidarity of allied forces, as well as Alliance’s commitment to defend itself against all types of aggression. 

Canada-led multi-national battle group Latvia, which is comprised of 1,400 troops from Albania, Czech Republic, Italy, Canada, Montenegro, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain, is permanently deployed to Latvia on rotational basis to conduct regular joint training with the National Armed Forces of Latvia. Purpose of joint training is to boost the interoperability with regional allies required to respond to potential security threats. 

NATO eFP battle group Latvia was officially welcomed to Latvia (Camp Ādaži) on 19 June 2017.

Media contacts:
Media Relations Section
Military Public Affairs Department
Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Latvia
E-mail: prese@mod.gov.lv
Website: www.mod.gov.lv