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Hostile informational activities concerning NATO and defence in the light of ZAPAD 2021

Hostile informational activities concerning NATO and defence in the light of ZAPAD 2021

NATO, constitutional foundation of the state of Lithuania, foreign policy and energy were the main targets of hostile information activates on 1-30 September. Analytical staff of the Lithuanian Armed Forces Strategic Communication Department detected in information space 405 unique cases that had traits of hostile information activity. It constitutes an insignificant decrease as compared to August of this year (433 cases).

An increase in the attention of propaganda outlets of China to Lithuania’s internal and foreign policy has also been observed in September. It is deemed to be associable with Lithuania’s decision to welcome opening of the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania , the study into Chinese-made smartphones carried out by the National Cyber Security Centre, and the coherent stance of our state about the human rights situation in China.

National defence topics received the most of the hostile information attention, 30% of the whole flow observed. That is deemed associable with the active phase of Russian-Belarusian Exercise Zapad 2021 on September 10 – 16. The hostile communication broadcasted during that period targeted NATO and the Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian and Polish membership in the Alliance. As Exercise Zapad 2021 was running, NATO was being labelled a terrorist organisation that acts aggressively and provokes Russia and Belarus, and presents a military threat to them. The communication, on the other hand, was put through concerning how obsolete and useless and off the current affairs the organisation was. Lithuania and the other Baltic states were aspersed for “hysterics” and leading the Europeans to fear during the course of the said exercise.

State border violations was another topic actively targeted by hostile information activities in September. The communication was diminishing Lithuania’s defensive capabilities and state border guard effectiveness. Lithuania’s foreign policy was named as the true reason of illegal migration. Our state authorities were said to violating human rights and being incapable of finding a solution to the migration problem. The Belarusian regime was also driving an information campaign on the savage Lithuanian and Polish treatment of migrants.   The Lithuanian and Polish accusations to Belarus of a hybrid activity were called absurd. The narratives of Lithuania as a failed state and cause of the problem were escalated.

Other actively targeted topics were Lithuania’s state relations with Russia and Belarus. Lithuania was said to violate the principles of international law in the relations with Belarus and deliberately harboring World War II criminals from justice. The hostile information also concerned territorial integrity of Lithuania and Poland: it was claimed that Vilnius with adjacent areas and Poland’s Białystok area are historically Belarusian territories.

In its turn, information outlasts associated with the Kremlin regime blamed Lithuania for Russophobia. Lithuania and Estonia were condemned for hosting the traditional events on Russian affairs, such as Vilnius Russia Forum, Free Russia Forum, and the Annual Lennart Meri Conference. Russian officials also expressed hostile positions against the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania on the Russian Duma elections that had not been free and fair, and against the Report to the European Parliament authored by Andrius Kubilius on the EU and Russian relations. Anti-Russian policy was said to be promoted in the Baltic states, as well as systemic infringements of human rights, especially on ethnical basis.

An increased information flow concerning energy and economy was also observed last month (9.24 % in August to 15.06 % in September). However, disinformation and hostile information activity targets did not change, being the following: the Lithuanian stance on the Astravets Nuclear Power Plant, disconnecting from the BRELL electricity grid, Rail Baltica railway project, and Independence LNG terminal. The hostile information activities were aimed at causing fear in the Lithuanian people that once Lithuania stops buying electricity power from Belarus, electricity and