We have noted a series of critical attacks made by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell at the hearings in the European Parliament on 1 March. The head of European diplomacy again could not resist the urge to put forth unfounded accusations against our country of spreading misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic. He cobbled together all the old Russophobic clichés, myths and hackneyed tales widespread in the Western media. According to him, Russia seeks to undermine the unity and democratic achievements of the European Union, tries to mislead and intimidate ordinary Europeans, and wants to plant in their minds the dangerous idea that wearing masks and observing public health restrictions is useless. Where did Mr Borrell get all this? It is unclear.
The absurdity and cynicism of such attacks really are off the scale. It is time the European Union stopped justifying its own blunders in its pandemic response by ‘Moscow’s schemes’ or other excuses. Try to analyse what is going on with you. Be honest, be realistic. Let me remind you that the European Union has not yet shown us a single convincing piece of evidence in support of any of the accusations it has made.
On the other hand, the European Union, its agencies in Brussels and certain political leaders of EU countries support the non-systemic Russian opposition, the people actually involved in misleading the Russian public and the Western community alike with regard to the pandemic. Remember how in August 2020, Alexey Navalny, who is now supported by a number of politicians in the European Union and the West, said there was no vaccine in Russia, that it was all a lie, that the Russian government was not even thinking about it, and the WHO did not support Moscow in this because, why, Moscow had no vaccine. That was indeed misinformation – something you are now accusing official Moscow of doing while at the same time supporting the people who did it. Where, then, are you looking for evidence of misinformation? We have given you the facts, you have them, but not in relation to the people you are accusing.
For our part, we have repeatedly proposed to Brussels establishing a professional dialogue on the misinformation problem, so that our experts could, facts in hand, discuss mutual concerns in this field. We have far more concerns. We have a lot of such evidence in the Published materials that contain false information about Russia section on the Foreign Ministry website, as well as reactions to articles in Western media. Those are attempts to distort reality that Western journalists make. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed our readiness for such a dialogue during a joint news conference following his talks with Josep Borrell on 5 February 2021 in Moscow.
But our colleagues from the EU are stubbornly avoiding an honest and substantive discussion based on facts – because there are no facts, I think. All this suggests that in reality, the European Union simply has no arguments. That is why they are reluctant to engage in a dialogue, resorting to unilateral statements and accusations alone. All they seem to want is to keep up anti-Russia propaganda under any, even the most absurd pretexts, believing that would make our country “pay the price” (as Josep Borrell himself put it) for its independent foreign policy line and obvious successes in fighting the pandemic.
Let's get back to the facts. Russia has proven by deeds that it is willing to work together with other countries, including the EU, to fight the global threat. During his visit to Moscow, Josep Borrell publicly acknowledged the Russian virologists’ achievement in making an effective anti-COVID vaccine. Sputnik V has already been registered in 39 countries by now, including in two EU states. Any attempts to present this objective reality as Russia's interference in the EU’s internal affairs or undermining its unity are inappropriate. European agencies are incessantly trying to attach a political agenda to the coronavirus response effort; that persistence is prompted by unscrupulous competition and is causing additional damage to the image of the European Union itself. Such action can hardly increase trust in the EU as an independent and responsible representative of the international community.
Instead of escalating the coronavirus info-demic, which really threatens people’s health around the world, the leaders of the EU diplomacy should instead channel their efforts in overcoming the EU-led crisis in relations with Russia. We suggest the European Union change its public accusatory tone. We call on them to finally start a conversation with facts in hand on all problematic issues. We are ready for this dialogue, including in the public plane. We have much to discuss. And the senseless confrontational rhetoric needs to be renounced so that we can all move on to building a constructive EU-Russia dialogue on an equal and mutually beneficial basis.
As for all the nonsense that is now being issued publicly or through EU institutions’ accounts on social media, we will respond to it with clear argumentation and truthful factual information.
Source: Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, 4 March 2021