NATO Summit, Cluster Bombs, Prigozhin and Poland – Focus on Disinfo-narratives in July

In July, in the Macedonian language media one could have read a few types of Russian narratives related to the state of affairs in Ukraine. Most dominant were those connected to the NATO Summit in Vilnius, the US-approved cluster ammunition for Ukraine, the destiny of Prigozhin, including the narrative that Poland wanted to occupy parts of Ukraine that was also renewed. The drone attacks on Moscow became also quite current


In July, in the Macedonian language media one could have read a few types of Russian narratives related to the state of affairs in Ukraine. Most dominant were those connected to the NATO Summit in Vilnius, the US-approved cluster ammunition for Ukraine, the destiny of Prigozhin, including the narrative that Poland wanted to occupy parts of Ukraine that was also renewed. The drone attacks on Moscow became also quite current, writes Truthmeter.mk.


Under the content-sharing agreement between Truthmeter.mk and Meta.mk, we republish the text below:


The historic NATO Summit in Vilnius – evaluated as such due to the Decision to accept Sweden as the 32nd Member-State as well as the aid package for Ukraine (discarding the Membership Action Plan (MAP), military and economic support and the establishment of the NATO-Ukraine Council) – was the reason for a fierce response from Russia, channeled through extreme and moderate disinfo narratives. One of the extreme statements given was that of the propagandist and former President of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, as well as the more moderate statement of the spokeswoman of the Russian Defence Ministry, Maria Zaharova, and the Kremlin Press-Secretary, Dmitry Peskov.

In that respect, Macedonian media transmitted Russian disinfo narratives, accompanied by threats from Medvedev, who became one of the main propagandist of Kremlin after the Russian invasion.

A more moderate response came from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, analyzing that the Summit of NATO in Vilnius marked the return of the Alliance back to the concepts and schemes from the Cold War, reported “Anadolu”.


Medvedev – Either NATO or Ukraine will not exist

Commenting the conclusion from the NATO Summit about the establishment of the NATO -Ukraine Cooperation Council, Medvedev said that the Council will soon cease to exist because one of the sides will disappear, remembering the dissolved NATO-Russia Council that was established in 2002:

This time the ending will be different. The Council will cease to exist, because one of the sides will disappear… Russia and the Alliance are on the verge of a war, more precisely, beyond the verge, responded Medvedev on his Twitter profile, and re-published by some of the Macedonian media.

A day prior to that – 12th July – Medvedev recognized that Ukraine had not become a NATO Member-State and probably never will become one, but what was promised to Ukraine from Vilnius meant that the world was progressing towards a Third World War.

Everything is as we thought:

The Membership Action Plan of Ukraine in the Alliance – terminated. In terms of speedy acceptance. To invite (Ukraine) in NATO.

However, they will join – when and under what kind of conditions is not known. Most probably – never. And that is what the realists in the Alliance are afraid to say out loud, wrote Medvedev in Telegram.

Increase military aid for the regime in Kyiv. With everything possible: missiles, cluster ammunition, aircraft.

The completely mad West could not have thought of anything else. Predictability of the highest level, up to the level of idiocy. In actual fact – deadlock. Third World War is getting closer, assessed Medvedev

On 11th July the spokeswoman of the Russian MIA, Zaharova, responded on the first day of NATO Summit by reiterating the old Russian narrative that NATO was at war with Russia – position that was also broadly disseminated by the Macedonian language media:

Do you really think that NATO is not at war with Russia? Indeed, NATO secures the weaponry, fighters, mercenaries, trainers, advisors and intelligence information for the regime in Kyiv. NATO is definitely involved in the military activities there, no doubt. NATO is the one that brought Kyiv’s regime up to this point, stressed Zaharova and published by TASS.

The statements given by Medvedev and Zaharova are part of the Russian disinformation narrative that NATO is to blame for the current escalation of the war following the Russian aggression because if NATO did not provide weapons to Kyiv, most probably Ukraine would have been defeated much sooner and there would not have been a war.


Peskov: We will analyze carefully

On the first day of the Summit – 11th July – the Press Secretary of Kremlin, Peskov, stated that the decisions and the statements given on the Summit will be carefully analyzed and appropriate counter-measures will be undertaken.

Peskov stressed that:

It seems that European leaders do not understand that moving NATO infrastructure closer to Russian borders is a mistake and that the advancement of the Western military Alliance in Central and Eastern Europe is what brought about the current crisis in Ukraine.

The outcomes of the Summit were announced the previous day, although it was not clear whether a decision with a date for Ukraine’s membership will be specified or not.

Photo: NATO

Speculations until the very last day of the Summit

On 10th July, the agencies published an announcement of the Ukrainian Chief of Diplomacy, Dmytro Kuleba that the Western allies reached a consensus to significantly shorten Ukraine’s path to NATO membership:

Following intense talks, NATO Allies reached consensus for discarding the MAP of Ukraine’s path to membership. I welcome this long-awaited decision that shortens our path to NATO, announced some of the Macedonian media.

Kuleba had similar rhetoric the previous day – 09.07.2023 – but he was not specific about the most important progress issue of Ukraine – NATO.

During the weekend of 8-9 July, the topic was the position of Berlin, because Germany apparently intended to oppose fast-track entrance of Ukraine in the Alliance, just as personally announced by the American President Joe Biden on 8th July, thereby leaving room for speculations. The different information about what was going to happen with Ukraine on the Vilnius Summit on 11-12 July followed after – to the surprise of many analysts – the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the meeting in Ankara with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that Ukraine has to become a NATO Member-State.

Nevertheless, strong incentive for the success of the Summit was the compromise reached with Turkey on 10th July in the late evening hours, regarding Ankara’s approval of Sweden’s full NATO membership, which meant that the Alliance practically consists of 32 Member-States or two more than before the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24.02.2022. NATO’s East enlargement and coming closer to the Russian borders was one of the official reasons for the Russian invasion and one of the goals of the so-called “special military operation” (de-militarization of Ukraine and stopping Kyiv’s aspirations of Ukraine’s membership in the Alliance).

Putin: No-one wants Russia-NATO clash

Russia’s rhetoric related to NATO, however, seems to be framed in somewhat of acceptance and reality. That seems to be the case indicated by the statement given by the Russian President Vladimir Putin, who on the press-conference in Sankt-Petersburg dated 30.07.2023 said that no-one wants a clash with NATO, although Russia is prepared for such an option:

Always ready for whatever scenario. But, nobody wants that. And, upon the initiative of America, we once created a special facility for preventing such conflicts… No-one wants such a conflict, but if they want to, we are ready stated Putin.

Исечок од видео на Kremlin.ru од Парадата на победата во Москва 09.05.2022

Some of the media in North Macedonia continued – at least in the headlines – to transmit the Russian disinformation scheme about their invincible army. They also utilized this press-conference with headlines such as ”Putin “froze” again NATO and USA; Russian Navy will receive 30 battle-ships”.

Cluster bombs for Ukraine – Divided West, threats from Moscow

On 07.07.2023, once the USA announced that they will send cluster ammunition as aid to Ukraine, unsettling responses, including information and disinformation regarding the issue constantly emerged.

Among the first to respond was the Head of the UN, Antonio Guterres, who opposed the decision, stressing the international conclusions regarding such ammunition – cluster bombs – up to date:

The Secretary General supports the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) that, as you know, was adopted 15 years ago and demands countries to comply with the conditions of the Convention. Therefore, of course, he does not support the use of cluster ammunition on the battlefield, informed the Cabinet of Guterres.

Unlike Guterres, first to support and extend understanding was NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, with the justification that Russia used such bombs to conquer territory and Ukraine has the right to defend itself.

The first reaction from Moscow followed last Saturday – 08.07.2023 – by calling the decision a gesture of despair of the USA, and adding that such a gesture will make Washington “an accomplice” in the killings of civilians with controversial weapons:

Transferring cluster munitions is a gesture of despair and admitting weakness in context of the failure of the so-called Ukrainian counter-offensive, announced the Russian Ministry of Defence and published by some of the Macedonian media.

The current Ukrainian authorities do not care for civilian casualties, because cluster bombs do not kill selectively, states the announcement of the Ministry of Defence.


Medvedev: Biden obsessed with unsound fantasies

One of the responses published was also that of the former Russian President and Prime-minister, Dmitry Medvedev who accounts for one of the top Kremlin propagandists. He renewed the Russian narrative that the West is to blame for the war in Ukraine, but this time directly accusing the American President Biden and threatening with a possible ”nuclear Armageddon”:

The sleepy-headed, senile Biden said that two years ago in Geneva he withdrew the guarantees that Ukraine will not join NATO, in the sense “I did not bow to the Russians”. By supplying Ukraine with hundreds of tons of weapons, he started an exclusive and dangerously long conflict with Russia, challenging the regime in Kyiv to destroy the remains of its country. Now, after exhausting all the resources, he is promising cluster attacks and again invites the Neo-Nazis in Kyiv with NATO-perspective whose accomplishment means Third World War, wrote Medvedev.

The easiest thing is to think that this is the direction of any American leader and the deep American government: to dominate and restrict other countries, especially the stubborn ones like ours…

Or maybe all is different? Maybe the dying grandfather is obsessed with unsound fantasies and simply decided to gracefully go, causing a nuclear Armageddon and taking half of the world with him to the next world…, concluded Medvedev.


Division of the West

The weekend of 8-9th July, Macedonian media published numerous pieces of information about some of the Western allies of Ukraine opposing this decision of the USA, especially stressing the responses of Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom.

On 10th July, New York Times revealed that the USA will send old models of cluster ammunition to Ukraine that are difficult to dispose (those that will not explode in the field) and that such a move will create big problems after the war.

On 16th July the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, stated that Russia has enough stocks of cluster bombs in its warehouses which has not been used up to date, but if it was attacked with such weaponry, it will use it:

Of course, if used against us, we reserve the right to apply reciprocal measures – stated Putin, as published by the Macedonian language media.

On 21.07.2023, news arrived that Ukraine was already using cluster bombs sent by the USA, and on 22.07. 2023 that they were used on Russian territory in the region around the Russian border town Belgorod.


Trump’s Russian narrative

On 17.07.2023, several Macedonian language media published the news related to the position of the former American President, Donald Trump about the war in Ukraine, saying that if he were President he would have been able to stop the war within 24 hours.

Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Trump’s position transmitted in our country through news agencies following the interview for Sky News is the following:

I know Zelenskyy quite well and I know Putin quite well – even better. I had good relations with both of them, very good relations. I would say to Zelenskyy: ”It’s enough! You must settle”. I would say to Putin: ”If you don’t agree, we will give him a lot. We will give (Ukraine) more than they would receive if they won, if we must. I would conclude an Agreement within a day. Just one day.

Trump’s position, de facto, says that the resolution of the war and peace in Ukraine is on the American side and if Washington wants to, that solution can be reached.

This pro-Russian rhetoric was stated just two days ago – 14th July – by Viktor Orban after the NATO Summit. Several online media in Macedonian language transmitted this position of Orban with either a headline stating: Peace will take over immediately if that is what the Americans want, or With the NATO invitation for Ukraine, the Third World War will emerge


Putin: Poland plans to annex Western Ukraine

On 21.07.2023, Russian President Putin confirmed the existence of plans for Poland annexing Western Ukraine commenting the plans as the establishment of “Polish-Lithuanian-Ukrainian connection”:

Ultimately, the perspective is obvious – if Polish units were to enter, for example, Lavov or other Ukrainian territory, then they will remain there. And they will remain there forever, said Putin.

This Russian threat, which is a well-known Russian disinformation narrative since 2022 following the invasion of Ukraine, was reiterated by the top level, Putin, once the disinformation continued after a whole month about Yevgeny Prigozhin and the mercenary group Wagner that tried to carry out a coup in Russia.

In the course of July such information was published several times. On 16th July, news was transmitted that Wagner’s task in Belarus was to seize the key corridor that separates Poland and Lithuania in case of bigger escalation between NATO and Russia – the so-called Achilles Heel of NATO in Europe, Corridor Suvalki, leading to Russian enclave Kaliningrad, on the Baltic Seashore.

From the other Russian disinformation narratives that were registered as specific news in Macedonian language, “Truthmeter” was actively debunking through its Fact-checking rubric from media or posts which can be noted on the link HERE. We would especially like to stress that in the disinformation war of Russia, but also from the other side, video-games are also used which you can read about HERE.


Drone attacks on Moscow

Several times in the course of July, Macedonian language media reported drone attacks on Moscow or in the vicinity of the capital city of Russia. Moscow came out with a narrative accusing Ukraine for international terrorism or just for terrorism. At the same time, the narrative is warning Western countries to stop providing arms and financial aid to Ukraine, because they are supporting terrorism in such a manner.

Момент од ударот на дронот што екксплодираше при напад на 30.07.2023 во Москва. Фото: скриншот

The spokeswoman of the Russian MFA, Maria Zaharova, assessed the attack from 24.07.2023 as international terrorism executed by Ukraine.

That was an act of international terrorism, she said to TV channel RTVI, commenting the incident, reported one of the Macedonian language media.

According to Moscow, the two drones attacking were shot down outside of the residential area where civilian population lived. Nevertheless, one of the drones was shot down close to the Russian Ministry of Defence. This news was published on 24th July by Macedonian language media at noon. The narrative used by Zaharova is the same narrative Moscow used for the attack of the bridge connecting Crimea with the land part of Russia several days ago, as well as with the larger drone attack executed in the beginning of July – more precisely on 04.07.2023 – when at least five drones were shot down that were approaching buildings in Moscow from different directions. For all of these attacks Moscow is accusing official Kyiv that not always admits the attacks. For the 04.07.2023 attack, when one of the drones was directed towards the international airport Vnukovo close to Moscow, Zaharova also used the terrorism narrative, specifically, “act of terrorsim”.

Due to the fact that the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is executing those terrorist attacks with weapons provided by the West or paid by Western funds, this is international terrorism. It is high time for the international community to understand that the USA, United Kingdom and France, all members of the Security Council of the UN, are “sponsoring a terrorist regime”, reported part of the statement given by Zaharova another Macedonian language medium.

The incident and the statement, i.e., the assessment of the Russian leadership came only two days after the last attack with Russian drones and cruise missiles on the capital city of Ukraine, Kyiv.

The other details surrounding this event can be read in the news-cluster in Macedonian language published in the morning hours (9.15) on 04.07.2023 by the aggregator Time.mk, as well as the aggregated news cluster from 2 p.m. that same day.

On 30.07.2023 Moscow was attacked by combat drones – Ukrainian, according to the Russian accusations – and one of them was struck down while the other hit a business-residential building in the central city area inflicting material damage and panic. The Russian rhetoric remained the same – act of terrorism.


Bulgarian disinfo narrative about the Government in Skopje and Macedonians in neighbouring countries

On 10.07.2023, several Macedonian language media, reported the news of the Bulgarian 24 Casa published in its online edition that Bulgarian intelligence services in their regular briefings of the Parliament covered the relations with Macedonia.

Парламентот во Бугарија во центарот на Софија. Фото: Мета.мк

According to this information, the Bulgarian military intelligence (SVR), determined that in 2022, the authorities in North Macedonia tried to influence the Bulgarian minority in the neighbouring countries to present themselves as an Macedonian minority. The report apparently stated that in North Macedonia the expected Constitutional amendments were not moving forward, nor were the essential parts of the Treaty on Good-neighbourliness and Cooperation from 2017 concluded between Skopje and Sofia.

Nonconstructive politics of the authorities of the RNM towards Sofia is more and more supported by some external factors. The attempts of the RNM to use specific international organizations to ruin the image of the Republic of Bulgaria continued. This trend will continue and it will demand caution on the part of the Bulgarian authorities. In addition, in 2022, traditionally, no progress can be noted in the construction of the key corridor for NATO, Corridor 8 in the part on the territory of the RNM, specifies 24 Chasa, and reported by some of the Macedonian language media.

Грбот на бугарската државна агнеција за национална сигурност – ДАНС. Фото: ДАНС/веб

By the way, within the framework of the related reports of the Bulgarian intelligence services, 24 Chasa tried to publish a text in accordance to which their services also identified that the war in Ukraine affected the region, but also wider in the world and that Russia’s aim was to create a conflict zone on the Balkans. The text was published under the headline “The war can spillover beyond Ukraine. Balkans is a Russian aim”.


Levica: KFOR is biased, ARM should withdraw from the mission

Also, on 10th July, some of the Macedonian language media published an announcement from Levica containing disinformation regarding the role of the Government led by SDSM and DUI with the conflict situation in North Kosovo.

Precisely, Levica claims that KFOR is playing a negative role.

The repressions on the population trying to protect its fundamental rights up North in Kosovo and Metohija would have hardly been possible if it were not for the imperialistic tool of KFOR. Namely, on many occasions, KFOR members were using excessive force to suppress the protesters who were legitimately fighting for their rights, inhibited by the repressive government, siding with the stronger and armed, against the ordinary people.

Levica stressed the decision of the Government to send a new rotation of 31 soldiers from ARM within the KFOR contingent, without mentioned any other detail for example – since when is the country sending troops to KFOR, or the basis on which KFOR is deploying troops in Kosovo – nor is it mentioning any other facts.

In addition, it spreads the disinformation that ”Levica and 90 percent of the Macedonian population is against such a move of the Government”. Levica is demanding the withdrawal of ARM-troops from KFOR, but also from all the other NATO missions.

These pieces of disinformation were subject of analysis of the Counter-spin rubric of “Truthmeter”.


Author: Teofil Blazhevski


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