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STOP FALS! Hysteria over an alleged war on the Nistru river in Russian media: fake information creating panic and manipulating public opinion

Monday morning, August 7, the Russian publication Russia Today (RT), which is part of Kremlin propaganda machine, published an ample material under column „Exclusive” with the heading „Once in Bulboaca: the U.S. to build new facilities at Moldova military ground”. In the absence of evidence for the statements, the author speculates with some data, leaving the perception that NATO and the U.S. are training Moldovan military for a future war in Transnistrian region. In reality, the Ministry of Defense of Republic of Moldova is upgrading the Military base from Bulboaca to train the military taking part in international peace-keeping operations with UN mandate.

In the news item Russia Today claims „United States Navy are looking for entrepreneurs to build military facilities at the Military training ground of National Army in Bulboaca”, and the author tends to highlight that the „military ground is located at several dozen kilometers away from Tiraspol”. RT also writes that „eight buildings are planned to be erected, three of them being mandatory – office, residential building and hotel, and additional five secondary ones – a school, a service unit, residential constructions and a commercial center”, and according to tender requirements, „the entrepreneur will have to perform the „design and construction of objects for military operation development in urban conditions on Bulboaca military base territory”, the value of the contract ranging between 100 and 250 thousand US dollars”. Russian journalists refer to a document issued by American armed forces, without disclosing it or giving more details. It is most probably the document published on fbo.gov website, which publishes federal contracts set for implementation by the American government. Russia Today did not request any comments from Moldovan Ministry of Defense, which manages Bulboaca military training ground. At the same time, they claim they have failed in obtaining any feedback from American Navy Forces, but requested reaction from the Moldovan president, Igor Dodon, who uncompromisingly declares „he will oppose the US Navy plans”. “Even if there existed any plans before my election as president, I will block them. We have by any means to maintain our status as neutral country”, Igor Dodon would have declared to the Russian publication, mentioning he would request for additional information on US Navy plans in Moldova.

In the remaining part of the article, the Russian journalists generally describe the collaboration of Republic of Moldova with NATO and common military exercises, afterwards repeatedly quoting Dodon, who would have declared Moldova did not need the support of the United States and, according to some experts, the goal of the „American interference into Moldova’s domestic affairs” relies in „forcing Moldovan authorities to collaborate with NATO and, thus, extending its eastern border as close to Russia as possible”.

„Domino” effect in Russian media

Russia Today’s material was immediately taken over by many news portals in Russian Federation, and by some from Republic of Moldova. Respectively, the news item was borrowed by Mediarepost.ru, Lenta.ru, Ria.ru, Nakanune.ru, Sputnik.md, Noi.md, and highlights are visibly changing. Thus, Sputnik.md declares „U.S. settling down in Bulboaca”, and the official news agency RiaNovosti published the statement of Russian deputy prime minister Dmitrii Rogozin, according to which „U.S. to commence training of diversionists and Moldovan special forces for a new conflict with non-recognized Moldovan Transnistrian republic”.

Reaction of the Ministry of Defense of Republic of Moldova

As a result of such information in the media, the Ministry of Defense specified that Republic of Moldova is a partner under the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), and American militaries may be trained on Moldova’s territory, but this fact does not affect the country’s neutrality or the conflict on the Nistru river. „Under GPOI initiative, the Ministry of Defense benefits from a grant worth 1.6 million US dollars, used to modernize the infrastructure of Bulboaca military training ground, so that it would allow the training of National Army military who take part in international peace-keeping operations with UN mandate. These activities have nothing in common with NATO and do not affect the neutrality of the state, as suggested in the article”, the Ministry of Defense specifies.

Hysteria over the escalation of an armed conflict in Transnistrian region

Lately, especially during and after the military exercise in Bulboaca on 5th of August, „Dragoon Pioneer”, and after declaring Dmitrii Rogozin as „persona non-grata” in Republic of Moldova, several publications in Russian Federation issue more frequently materials on the so-called „reignition” of the frozen conflict in Transnistrian region. On August 3, Ria Novosti writes that the so-called Tiraspol leader blames the Moldovan authorities for escalading the conflict in the Transnistrian region. On the same day, another manipulative material, entitled „In the eve of a "hot stage": Transnistria "under domination of NATO escalation”. Attempts to have dialogue are out of stock!”, and published by Topwar.ru website, speculates that the conflict is about to restart in the Transnistrian region. The author of the material says the most disastruous scenario ever has been launched – escalation of conflict in Transnistrian region, and this fact might generate the emergence of similar conflicts in Odessa, Nicolaevka and Herson region in Ukraine.

During a show at Radio Sputnik station, the political scientist Valeri Korovin expressed his opinion regarding the construction of eight buildings on Bulboaca military training ground, quoting Russia Today’s material, and declared that „Republic of Moldova becomes another bridgehead for the American expansion on the Eurasian continent”.

The Ministry of Defense from Chisinau ensures that nothing is threatening the emergence of an armed conflict on the Nistru river, and all accusations in the Russian media are groundless.

Eugeniu Durbală

The article was produced within the framework of the Media campaign against false and tendentious information STOP FALS!, conduced by the Association of Independent Press (API), Independent Journalism Center (IJC) and Association of Independent TV-Journalists in Moldova (ATVJI).


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