Healthcare/Biosafety

Four Communicators of Kremlin’s Messages Claim that EU Abandoned Italy and Now It Pins Hopes on Russia and China

30 March, 2020

The COVID-19 outbreak has posed a serious challenge to leading European countries. Amid strong criticism of coronavirus response, some pro-Kremlin media outlets and pro-Russian actors took advantage of the situation and pursued their own political purposes. They promoted a narrative that while the European Union abandoned Italy, only Russia, China and other authoritarian countries gave the country a helping hand.

It is also worth noting that amid these propagandistic messages, a great part of rapid coronavirus tests sent from China to Spain and the Czech Republic failed to identify positive cases; moreover, the Netherlands has recalled 600,000 face masks manufactured in China because they did not meet quality standards. Italian La Stampa reported that 80% of aid packages sent by Russia to Italy proved useless. 

The messages that the European Union has abandoned Italy and now the country pins hopes only on Russia and China are being spread by four pro-Russian groups in Georgia: 

  1. Media outlet founded by the Kremlin – Sputnik-Georgia, Sputnik-Ossetia
  2. Kremlin-affiliated online editions – News Front, Georgia and World, Politicano
  3. Obieqtivi TV affiliated with anti-Western political party Alliance of Patriots of Georgia
  4. Pro-Russian non-government organization Eurasian Institute 

The Myth Detector offers you the sources of the above mentioned message as well as the facts about who and how supports Italy in countering the novel coronavirus.

Only Russia and China are assisting Italy The European Union is not assisting Italy 

The European Union is not assisting Italy 

Bondo Mdzinarashvili, Obieqtivi TV,  March 25: “Russia took advantage of the moment and gave a helping hand to Italy. Although Italy was expecting assistance from the EU allies, NATO allies, it failed to receive this assistance.”  News Front, March 23: “...’Trolling’ means that European countries have appeared in the gravest situation – from both epidemiological and political points of view, when they abandoned Italy and Spain in the most difficult situation, without any assistance.” 

Valeri Kvaratskhelia, Obieqtivi TV, March 24: “Italy is one of the states constantly joining the sanctions, imposed by Europe and the U.S. against Russia. But when it faced problems, who expressed support to it? Russia, China… The Americans did not even lift a finger; neither did the Europeans.” 

Gulbaat Rtskhiladze, Eurasian Institute: “The European Union has allocated funds to counter the virus, but Italy, an EU member state, has not received any tangible assistance. Germany has suspended export of technologies and virus treatment drugs to Italy (and not only). Can you imagine it?!”
Georgia and World, 25 March 

Sputnik-Ossetia, March 24: “The Italian Prime Minister asked the EU and NATO member states for assistance, but only Russia responded to it.”

 

Sputnik-Georgia, March 24: “Besides Russia, medical groups from only Venezuela, China and Cuba are assisting Italy in its fight against epidemic.”

 

Georgia and World, March 25: “The European Union abandoned Italy and Russia gave it a helping hand.” 

 

Georgia and World, March 24: “Political reality looks like this: if you are a friend and a partner of China, you should hope that you will receive rapid and qualified assistance. They will also assist not so good friends. Such approach has strengthened this country’s prestige and the status of a global leader.”

 

Politicano • პოლიტიკანო, March 22: “Following China and Cuba, now Russia will render a serious medical assistance to Italy in combating the coronavirus. Now, a logical question arises: where is the European Union at this moment?”

 

How does the EU assist Italy?

The European Community has allocated the following assistance to Italy to combat the COVID-19:

  • The European Commission has approved a €50 million Italian aid scheme to support the production and supply of medical devices, as well as to help Italy provide the necessary medical treatment to those infected; 
  • On March 18, the European Union received a Chinese aid package, including masks and 50,000 testing kits that were fully allocated to Italy, as Rome faces the most urgent needs among member states in the coronavirus crisis.
  • The European Commission made a decision to propose to the Italian Parliament a Report to obtain the authorization to deviate from its DBP deficit target for 2020 in relation to the outbreak of Coronavirus COVID-19.  The Vice-President of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis and the Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni wrote about it in the letter addressed to the Minister of Economy and Finance of Italy, Roberto Gualtieri. 
  • Since the hospitals are overcrowded in Italy, Germany has started to accept coronavirus patients from this harder-hit country.
  • On March 13, the European Union proposed a Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, envisaging EUR 835 million for Italy. On March 26, the European Parliament unanimously approved the initiative. 
  • The European Central Bank announced a 750 billion euro ($820 billion) asset purchase program in an effort to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, as the death toll in Europe continues to rise. As part of the program, investors will purchase Italian securities to help the country counter the serious risks of the coronavirus.
  • Germany and France sent a total of 2 million face masks to the Italian government.

Prepared by Goga Katalandze
Myth Detector Lab