Analysis of the News “Europe is in crisis – but it will not collapse until June”

March 2022

As part of the Regional Initiative in Combating Disinformation “Western Balkans Anti-Disinformation Hub: Exposing Malign Influences through Watchdog Journalism”, we present you a new analysis of fake news and disinformation narratives.

Europe is in crisis – but it will not collapse until June

Manipulative news

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is already having visible consequences for the economy of the European Union, which has not yet recovered from the previous crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Of particular concern is the fact that the economic consequences could be of varying intensity in different member states, which could disrupt the EU unity.

The economic crisis in the European Union was the reason and motive for the pro-government tabloids to write extensively about the complete collapse of the EU before Putin and Russia. In particular, Vladimir Putin’s decision to charge “enemy states” for gas in rubles was interpreted by a part of the pro-government media in Serbia as the economic end of the European Union.

“Europe is threatened with a complete collapse by June after the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s measure will come into force tomorrow that all the countries of the Old Continent must pay for the delivery of energy to official Moscow in rubles, instead of euros and dollars, as it has been the case until now, whereby the powerful EU member Germany will be the first to come under attack,” Srpski Telegraf writes.

Srpski Telegraf proves that Europe is going to collapse exclusively by conveying the statements of Russian officials and information from the Russian state media. Statements, such as those of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, are interpreted in a sensational manner, describing the EU as a powerless actor next to official Moscow. “In our situation, it is hardly possible for us to be humanitarians. If there is no money, there is no gas either”, is a statement that Srpski Telegraf assessed as “bringing Europe to its knees”.

The text does not mention the possibility that the payment will remain the same as until now, through Gazprombank which is not subject to European sanctions, which actually happened because the Group of Seven most advanced economies of the world (G7) rejected Putin’s proposal to pay in rubles. German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit confirmed that payment for Russian gas will continue to be in euros.

A controversial part of the text is also the illustration of the crisis in the EU through the story of restaurants that remove certain dishes from their menu due to oil shortages. Although the subtitle says “Germans run out of oil and fries”, it is only about one restaurant that withdrew this dish from the menu due to higher oil prices.

Srpski Telegraf is not the only media that in the last week before the elections in Serbia, scheduled for the 3rd of April, reported the economic crisis “which is destroying EU member states”. Politika, Večernje Novosti, Blic, Informer also had news with a similar content. In all these news, the economic collapse of Europe and a strong Russia are presented in a tendentious manner. At the same time, photos and articles about food shortages in Europe are published, and for this they are using fake photos taken during the coronavirus pandemic when Europe was facing a much greater food shortage than it is now.

It is also problematic that the texts, that are presented as “analytical”, do not show the impact of the war on Russia’s economy, but only the EU, which, according to the narrative offered, has no choice “but to play by Russia’s rules.”

Author: Sofija Popović