Spilnota Detector Media

Fake Maya Sandu allegedly allowed the use of Moldovan airspace for F-16 fighters after a request from the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry

Propagandists are distributing on anonymous telegram channels a photo of an allegedly official letter from the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which requests the use of Moldova’s airspace. To discuss this issue, a meeting of representatives of the general staffs of Ukraine, Moldova and Romania was held from February 12 to 16, 2024. However, this is fake.

Specialists from the VoxCheck project drew attention to this. They found out that this information comes exclusively from Russian and pro-Russian sources. No other media or officials have confirmed such a meeting. Additionally, information about the deployment of F-16 military aircraft on the territory of Moldova and the use of its airspace was denied by the Ministry of Defense of this country. Even the “letter” that propagandists distribute shows signs of editing.

The Moldovan media NewsMaker contacted the Ministry of Defense with a request to clarify information about the use of airspace for Ukrainian aircraft, and received an answer that this information was erroneous and was being disseminated with the aim of scaring society. Moreover, there is no mention anywhere of a meeting between representatives of Romania, Moldova and Ukraine in Chisinau from February 12 to 16, 2024. Analyzing the “writing” using the Forensically tool and ELA analysis, signs of editing are noticeable.

Previously, the same pro-Russian sources disseminated information that F-16 aircraft transferred to Ukraine would be stationed at the Moldovan Marculesti airport near the border with Ukraine. However, Moldovan Defense Minister Anatolii Nosatyi denied these statements, calling them an attempt to destabilize the situation in the country.

Fake F-16 fighters, which will be transferred to Ukraine, are initially planned to be stationed in Moldova

Pro-Kremlin telegram channels write that Western F-16 fighters will be stationed at one of the airports in Moldova before being transferred to Ukraine. In asserting this, propagandists refer to the Minister of Defense of Moldova Anatolii Nosatyi, who allegedly made a corresponding statement.

In fact, this information is not true. This was reported by the Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security. Anatolii Nosatyi himself has already denied such news in a comment to Newsmaker: “They are aimed only at misinformation of citizens and discrediting the defense department. I would like to point out that all these messages are misinformation. I condemn and refute these fakes”.

The Minister of Moldova also said that in addition to Telegram channels, lies were spread by politicians who “want to destabilize the situation in the country”. Previously, we denied information that the Russian military had already destroyed several F-16 fighter jets in Ukraine.

Manipulation Pro-Russian forces seem to have won the elections in Moldova

In response to statements by Moldovan President Maia Sandu, who expressed that Chisinau has no common topics for discussion with Moscow, Russian officials point to the allegedly disastrous results of the municipal elections in Moldova for the ruling party. However, this is manipulation.

Specialists from The Insider project drew attention to it. They emphasize that the “victory of the opposition” does not look very convincing. Moldova's pro-European Action and Solidarity party won 19 of 32 districts in regional elections, eight times better than in the previous elections in 2019. Also, the pro-Russian Party of Socialists lost five districts after these elections. They also note that the victory of the pro-Russian party is also not significant, since it was unable to gain success in the elections of mayors of the largest cities.

Ion Ceban, a former adviser to Moldovan President Ihor Dodon, left the Party of Socialists and created the National Alternative Movement, a center-left, also pro-European opposition political force. Ceban advocates European integration of Moldova and condemns Russian aggression against Ukraine. Despite the fact that there is an allegation about Cheban’s ties with Russia, his victory in the elections took place under slogans for European integration and condemnation of Russian aggression.

By spreading such manipulations, propagandists make their desire reality. They say that Moldova will never be able to become a full-fledged European state. However, Detector Media  using the example of material about the “Moldavian language”, explained how else Russians can use the internal political context of Moldova for their propaganda.

Fake Moldovan President Maia Sandu said that she gives permission to the Armed Forces of Ukraine to enter the territory of their country in order to “deal with Transnistria”

Such information was disseminated in social networks, in particular, on telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. The reports say that Moldovan President Maia Sandu, during a meeting with Volodymyr Zelenskyi on June 1, allegedly confirmed her readiness to provide her territory for the military operations of the Ukrainian army, namely to “deal with” the so-called Transnistria. The authors add that this allegedly is how the president of Moldova expresses her “disposition” towards Ukraine and the troops. It is not true.

The fact-checkers of the StopFake project drew attention to the case and determined that Maia Sandu did not say this. The propagandists simply made up her words about the military of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Actually, the presidential office denied this information and called it fake. And in a meeting with the press, Maia Sandu said that Ukraine ensures the security of Moldova and that their country respects the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine and its internationally recognized borders.

Of course, Ukraine can respond and help other countries if there is such a request. And there was no request from Moldova, so we are not even talking about any dispatch of troops. At the same time, during the same meeting on June 1, Zelenskyi said that Ukraine does not claim the territory of Transnistria.

By spreading such a message, propagandists seek to show that the Armed Forces of Ukraine want the war to escalate, to continue it outside of Ukraine, or, for example, to resolve other conflicts. Allegedly, Ukraine is ready to dispose of the territories of neighboring countries as it pleases, especially when the military “gets permission”. Thus, Russian propaganda exposes the Ukrainian military as aggressors who allegedly claim other territories outside Ukraine.

Fake In Ukraine, they “dug a ditch on the border with Moldova to stop men fleeing from mobilization”

Such information was disseminated in social networks, in particular, on telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. Reports say that Ukraine has dug a ditch on the border with Moldova, which should “stop the mass escape of men from mobilization”, the Border guard service of Ukraine itself told Moldovan colleagues. It is not true.

The case was noticed by the experts of the StopFake project, who investigated that the Border guard service did not make such statements. At the same time, they explain the construction of fortifications on the border with Moldova as the need to increase attention to this area due to the situation in Transnistria and the possibility of provocations there. The Moldovan border guards also commented on the situation and stated that, among other things, this would aggravate the fight against an attempt to introduce smuggling from Ukraine to Moldova. Analysts stressed that there was no talk of stopping the “mass flight of men from mobilization” as the reason for the appearance of the structures.

Manipulation Maia Sandu destroys the Moldovan language

This thesis is broadcast by Russian propaganda in the media and telegram channels. The bill on replacing the Moldovan language with Romanian in official office work was adopted in the first reading by the ruling party of Moldova “Action and Solidarity”. The reports also claim that the team of Moldovan President Maia Sandu is trying to divert public attention from pressing problems. That is why she raises the “historically difficult” question of language.

The case attracted the attention of analysts from the EU vs Disinfo project, who are convinced that this message is intended to nourish the Kremlin propaganda narrative about “the loss of sovereignty by Moldova” and “the installation of external control by Western curators”.

In fact, in the declaration of independence of Moldova, adopted in 1991, the official language of the country is Romanian. In December 2013, the Constitutional Court of Moldova recognized that this document has a higher legal force than the constitution, so the state language should be called “Romanian”. It is considered native by 82.2% of Moldovan citizens. In addition, the International organization for standardization has officially recognized the Romanian language of Moldova.

As for the history of the “Moldavian” language, in 1940 the USSR annexed Bessarabia, introducing not only a new political regime, but also a new language and Cyrillic alphabet. The local population of Moldova was declared as a “Moldovan people”, allegedly different from the Romanian. Subsequently, the Soviet authorities made attempts to justify the existence of a separate “Moldovan language and nation”, resorting even to pseudo-scientific interpretations of their Slavic origin.

Now Russia is using such manipulations to create the appearance that Moldova is a puppet of the so-called collective West. Propagandists are trying to show that the President of Moldova makes all decisions only under the dictation of Western curators. The Russian propaganda machine is spreading similar messages in relation to other sovereign states. Particularly in Georgia. A similar narrative regarding Ukraine has also been circulating in the information space over the past nine years.

Disclosure Russia has created a strategy for the absorption of Moldova

Journalists from a group of international publications exposed the Russian strategy of political and economic takeover of Moldova. They are talking about the document “Strategic goals of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Moldova”. According to Dossier journalists, it was developed by the presidential administration for cross-border cooperation of the Presidential administration and coordinated with the Russian special services.

The authors divided the goals in the document into several groups: military-political, trade-economic and humanitarian. However, it is precisely the realistic goals for the next ten years that the authors of the strategy consider:

• opposition to the influence of NATO and the EU in Moldova;

• forcing Moldova to participate in the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization, which includes Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan), the Eurasian Economic Union and other Russian international projects;

• settlement of the Transnistrian conflict on the basis of the special status of Transnistria (of course, with the participation of Russia);

• building up pro-Russian sentiment in society through propaganda and educational programs.

The journalists add that, according to the exposed document, by 2022 the Russian Presidential administration planned to prevent the Moldovan authorities from excluding Russia from the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict and wanted to maintain the Russian military presence in the unrecognized territory. It is reported that the tasks of the Presidential administration also included the support of Moldovan pro-Russian politicians.

The document also refers to Russia's plans to exploit Moldova's dependence on Russian imports in order to neutralize the republic's policy, which is contrary to the interests of the Kremlin.

Earlier, Dossier journalists published a similar document on Belarus. It is known that both “strategies” were developed in the same department.

A group of publications worked on exposing the document: Dossier (Russia), RISE (Moldova), Delfi (Estonia), Kyiv Independent (Ukraine), Belarusian Investigative Center (Belarus), Yahoo News (USA), Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany), West Rundfunk (Germany), Norddeutscher Rundfunk (Germany), Expressen (Sweden), Frontstory (Poland) and VSquare (Visegrad Group (V4)).

Manipulation Ukraine is ready to stop destabilization in Moldova “by military means”

Russian media spread information that Ukraine is allegedly ready to help Moldova stop destabilization in the country by military means. Like, in Ukraine “they do not exclude the invasion of Ukrainian troops in Transnistria”. Oleksii Danilov, a secretary of the National security and defense council of Ukraine, said this in his recent interview. This is manipulation.

Oleksii Danilov did not say that Ukraine is ready to provide military support to Moldova. It was not even about the fact that Ukraine is preparing an invasion of the temporarily occupied Transnistria. As the StopFake fact-checkers explain, they are talking about an interview given by the secretary of the National security and defense council on March 3, 2023. Oleksii Danilov answered the question whether Ukraine is ready, including by military means, to help Moldova if a corresponding request is received from President Maia Sandu. He said that such an appeal could be considered taking into account all ongoing processes and circumstances. The propagandists took these words out of context and gave them a different meaning.

Thus, Russian propaganda is trying to destabilize the situation in Moldova and discredit the cooperation between Ukraine and Moldova. Recently, the Russians circulated a document that supposedly confirms that Ukraine is preparing to attack Transnistria and claimed that Ukraine is dragging Moldova into the war.

Fake Ukraine is preparing an attack on Transnistria

Propagandists are spreading a photo that allegedly depicts an order to prepare Ukraine for an attack on Transnistria. According to it, before February 27, the personnel of the engineer-sapper battalion of the 28th brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which is part of  the Operational Command “South”, was to advance to the village of Kuchurрan, bordering Transnistria. It's fake.

Analysts of the VoxCheck project drew attention to the fake. They found out that the document is a forgery. Several factual errors point to this, in particular:

there is no name of the document in the photo (it is not clear if this is an order, decree or report), while in the messages where this fake appeared for the first time, it is called an order;

the order number is indicated on the right side of the document;

in the upper left corner it should contain information about this order;

the abbreviation SESB (separate engineer-sapper battalion) must be written in capital letters;

settlements are usually indicated without the abbreviation “n.p.” (name of the settlement point);

in the main text of the document they mention 534 SESB, but there is no mention of it in open sources.

Moreover, the document in the photo does not talk about Ukraine's offensive against Transnistria. It only notes the supply of ammunition, which, according to VoxCheck analysts, does not necessarily mean preparations for offensive operations.

Thus, propagandists are trying to destabilize the situation in Europe and shift the responsibility for their possible provocations in Transnistria to the West and Ukraine. Allegedly, Ukraine wanted to attack Russia, and now wants to start a war against Moldova. Recently, there have been more fakes about the situation in Moldova in Russian propaganda. Detector Media has already written about their examples and their true goals.

Message Ukraine draws Moldova into the war

Reports are circulating on pro-Russian telegram channels that Ukrainians are building defensive structures on the border with Russian-occupied Transnistria. They say that Ukraine is justifying itself by strengthening its own security, but ‘in fact” it is preparing provocations to draw Moldova into the war.

Russian propaganda systematically spreads messages that Ukraine is going to draw neighboring states into the war, including Poland, Romania, Moldova, Hungary or Belarus. The propagandists also wrote that in one way or another Ukraine was involving the USA, Finland, Estonia, Germany, Slovakia, Serbia, etc. into the war. Propaganda claimed that military personnel of NATO countries or representatives of the OSCE are fighting in Ukraine. Thus, Russia uses the tactics of substitution of concepts in order to present itself as a victim of global aggression, and not as an aggressor state.

Russia launched a new wave of disinformation messages about drawing Moldova into the war after Russian missiles violated Moldovan airspace. Thus, Russia is trying to be proactive and absolve itself of responsibility for war crimes. Like, Ukraine provokes other states and draws them into the war, not Russia. The Russians recently shared a “document” allegedly confirming that Ukraine was preparing to attack Transnistria.

Fake Romanian troops are already on the border with Moldova

Propagandists spread information that Romania is accumulating troops and equipment on the border with Moldova and is preparing to attack it at any moment. Such messages were especially active on Twitter. It's fake.

Radio Svoboda (Liberty) writes about it. The publication received a comment from the speaker of the Romanian Ministry of Defense Constantin Spânu on this matter. A senior official said that “there were no changes in the deployment of Romanian forces and air defense systems”. This is an important detail, since in a number of messages the propagandists also mentioned the alleged deployment of Romanian air defense systems. Spânu added that the Romanian military has been following the wave of fakes since the start of the full-scale war against Ukraine using its own Inforadar platform.

Thus, propagandists are trying to destabilize the situation in Europe. Like, Moldova should be more prudent and loyal towards Russia, otherwise it will be like in Ukraine. In particular, such messages are part of a large-scale information campaign of Russian propaganda against Moldova. Detector Media wrote about the tactics of intimidation that are actively used within its framework.

Disclosure Ukraine is preparing to attack Transnistria, says the occupiers’ document

Such a document was circulated on social networks, in particular on telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. The document says that the Ukrainian leadership sends fighters to the cities of Ukraine bordering Moldova. Before the publication of the so-called document, the authors add that the Armed Forces of Ukraine “intend to carry out an armed provocation in Transnistria”. 

Analysts from the Center for strategic communications and information security investigated this case and found that the document was fake. As analysts explain, the “document” includes a number of inaccuracies, in particular:

The fake document does not conform to the standard format used by the Ukrainian military command;The wording used in the “document” is not typical of official business language;

The authors of the “document” made grammatical and spelling errors.

Transnistria is a self-proclaimed unrecognized state located between Ukraine and Moldova. According to the legislation of Moldova, Transnistria has the status of an Autonomous Territorial Unit with a special legal status. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recognizes the territory of Transnistria as occupied by Russia. Moldovan President Maia Sandu said that Russia plans to carry out a coup d'état in the country. At the same time, against this background, Russian propaganda was spreading messages that it was Ukraine who wanted to make provocations on the territory of Moldova.

Message Moldova provokes Russia to aggravate relations with the “collective West”

Russian media are spreading the message that Ukrainian President Zelenskyi and Moldovan President Sandu have conspired to escalate the situation in Transnistria. Propagandists claim that it is they who are trying to provoke Tiraspol to aggression, and it is for this that Maia Sandu wants Moldova to join NATO. In addition, the Russian media are convinced that the ex-Prime Minister of Moldova was replaced precisely at the direction of the US State Department and Zelenskyi.

Analysts of the EUvsDisInfo project drew attention to the message. They note that the pro-Kremlin media continue to perceive Moldova as part of the sphere of Russian influence. With this in mind, they are spreading narratives that criticize the current pro-Western government of Moldova. In particular, Russia accuses the Moldovan government of ending the dialogue with Russia on the discount on gas supplies, as well as supporting Ukraine. Last July, President Sanda announced her intentions to strengthen Moldova's combat capability while maintaining neutrality.

Thus, the Russian propaganda wants to destabilize the situation in Moldova in order to use it to escalate the situation in Transnistria. Also, because of such messages, propagandists want to convince Ukrainians that even the closest allies have turned their backs on Ukraine, but reality proves the opposite.

Manipulation Moldova is a “black market” for the Ukrainian military organ sales

Messages are being spread on telegram channels that allegedly the Prime Minister of Moldova, Nataliia Havrylytsia, admitted that weapons and donor organs are smuggled into Moldova from Ukraine. Like, Moldova has become a real black market for selling the organs of wounded soldiers. Reports claim that on October 20, 2022 a law was passed allowing organ transplants in private clinics in Moldova. After that, the number of wounded Ukrainian soldiers allegedly increased, who are allegedly taken to Moldova for treatment, and instead are used as donors. This is manipulation.

Propagandists have been manipulating themes of organ trafficking and arms smuggling since the start of the full-scale invasion. However, not once did they provide evidence of these crimes. The Prime Minister of Moldova did not say that donor organs of the Ukrainian military get from Ukraine to Moldova. Nataliia Havrylytsia noted that the country needs additional support from the EU to combat the increase in cases of human and arms trafficking from Ukraine. In particular, in July 2022, the EU created the Support Center for Internal Security and Border Control in Moldova. It deals with combating the trade in firearms and people. Forced transplantation, which propagandists talk about, is only one of the components of the concept of “human trafficking”, as well as recruitment, transportation, sale, involvement in criminal activities, forced labor, etc. So the problem is much broader.

According to VoxCheck, the Ukrainian military is sent for rehabilitation to the Netherlands, France, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Spain, Poland, Germany, Italy, Romania, the USA and Israel. There is no official information about treatment in Moldova. Reports of “black transplantology” in the Ukrainian army have also been repeatedly refuted.

Thus, Russian propaganda is trying to discredit international support for Ukraine and worsen partnerships between Ukraine and other states. Earlier, propagandists spread messages that in Poland a refugee from Ukraine was sold for organs, and in Donbas, wounded Ukrainian soldiers and locals with pro-Russian views became victims of black transplants.

Fake Prime Minister of Moldova stated the Armed Forces of Ukraine resell weapons

Such a fake was spread on social networks and in the propaganda media. The reports say that Ukraine is “throwing weapons to the left”, that is, it is engaged in various frauds, including smuggling. The authors of the messages refer to an interview with the Financial Times, in which the prime minister mentioned this. It is not true.

Analysts of the StopFake project investigated this case and found that there is no mention of this in the interview itself. In an interview, the prime minister only says that because of the war in Ukraine, the risks of arms smuggling have increased significantly, but there is no mention of possible evidence in the material. That is, the prime minister did not give any specifics and did not try to prove anything. In the Financial Times, she talked about the risks for the world community caused by Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

Propagandists have repeatedly manipulated the topic of arms delivery. Thus, they want to convince that allegedly Ukraine uses weapons for other purposes, therefore Ukraine is far from being a loyal partner who can be trusted.

Fake The West and WHO are preparing Moldova for war with Russia

Such a message is being shared by propagandists in their telegram channels and in the Kremlin media. It says that Moldova is preparing for war, and the West and World Health Organization are helping it in this. They say that the Western leadership, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, arranges training in medical care. That is why, according to propagandists, Moldova is preparing for an offensive. However, this is not true.

The specialists of the StopFake project explained that the Western countries are not preparing Moldova for a war with Russia - this is a stuffing and a conspiracy theory of the pro-Kremlin media. The WHO training for doctors from Moldova was aimed at training doctors to provide assistance to the wounded who arrived from Ukraine.

In addition, the representative office of the World Health Organization in Moldova emphasized that the need for such training is closely related to Russian aggression against Ukraine. The WHO noted that the acquired skills will help Moldovan doctors provide the necessary assistance to refugees from Ukraine who suffered from Russian aggression. There was no mention of “training Moldovan doctors for military operations against Russia” at the training.

Fake Moldova gave Ukraine the opportunity to control its airspace, in particular to shoot down missiles

Such a message is distributed through social networks and hostile telegram channels. It says that since Ukraine and Moldova have agreed to cooperate in the field of air defense, Ukraine will have the right to shoot down missiles in Moldovan airspace. It is not true.

In fact, according to VoxCheck fact-checkers, neither Ukraine nor Moldova announced such agreements. Recently, however, the countries have agreed to cooperate on air defense. There is no information about whether the possibility of Ukraine shooting down missiles in Moldovan airspace was discussed at the meeting at all. The official parties to the talks made no such statements.

Manipulation Moldova prepares for war

Pro-Russian resources write about this. They say that the leadership of Moldova will draw Moldova into the war between Russia and Ukraine, opening a “second front” in Transnistria under the orders of “external curators”. To do this, they seem to have increased the country's defense budget by 50%. The funds will be used to purchase weapons and equipment, and increase salaries for the military. This is manipulation.

The defense budget of Moldova has indeed increased by 50%. They really provide for both the purchase of military equipment and an increase in the salaries of the military. However, this is not a sign of preparation for military action. As the EU vs Disinfo fact-checkers note, according to the Constitution, the Republic of Moldova is a neutral state. This status can only be changed by referendum. However, such a referendum is not planned, moreover, it is not even discussed.

Moldovan President Maia Sandu noted in the summer of 2022 that Moldova remains a neutral country, but will strengthen its defense system as now it is in a very bad state, so the Russian aggression against Ukraine has highlighted the need to re-equip the army.

Manipulation In Moldova, residents fear "the transition of the conflict from Ukraine to their country"

The Russian media spread information that the Prime Minister of Moldova, Natalia Gavrilita, said that the country's government was afraid of "the transition of the conflict from Ukraine." This manipulative thesis is part of the message that Ukraine threatens neighboring states.

In fact, the Russian media distorted and twisted the words of the Prime Minister of Moldova. According to StopFake, Natalia Gavrilita said in an interview with CNN that the government of Moldova is concerned about a possible invasion of Russia on the territory of its state. Ukraine is mentioned only in the context; if Russia's hostilities against Ukraine move towards Odesa, then "this will also become a cause for concern." In addition, according to the version of Russian propaganda, Havrylitsia calls Transnistria a "territory," but in reality, it says "separatist region."