Analysis of the News “Leaked Bundeswehr report: Germany is preparing for the war with Russia”

November 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.

Leaked Bundeswehr report: Germany is preparing for the war with Russia

Russian state-owned media Russia Today (RT) started working in Serbia on November 15. Although it is a Russian state television, only an Internet portal was launched in Serbia. As announced, the television is expected to be established by 2024.

At the time, RT‘s editor-in-chief Elena Milinčić, daughter of the editor-in-chief of Russian Sputnik in Serbia, said that by opening this media in Serbian, “a more complete picture of the modern world” would be available to the residents of the region. “Becoming part of the media space of the Balkans is a great challenge for us. We are ready for it,” she said.

With the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the member states of the European Union banned RT from broadcasting. The EU decision states that RT is under “constant direct or indirect control of the authorities in Russia and is an instrument of fundamental importance in encouraging and supporting military aggression against Ukraine, as well as for destabilizing neighboring countries.”

Back in July, at the first announcements that Russia Today could come to Serbia, the European Union said that Serbia, as a candidate country for membership, is expected to gradually align with the foreign and security policy of the European Union and its decisions. “RT is part of Russia’s propaganda and disinformation mechanisms, with which the Kremlin complements its illegal aggression against Ukraine and the killing of Ukrainians,” the EU announced at the time.

Despite the EU sanctions, Russia Today started working in Serbia. They began their work with the message “Kosovo is Serbia.” Even in the first texts of this media in Serbian, one can see a clear anti-Western, i.e. pro-Russian sentiment, deprived of an objective approach in reporting on the events of the war in Ukraine.

Thus, on November 17, the text “Leaked Bundeswehr report: Germany is preparing for war with Russia” appeared. In the text, RT refers to the writings of the German newspaper Spiegel, which published a document in which the Chief of the German General Staff calls for an “overhaul” of the German army, due to the threat of an open conflict between NATO and Russia.

“The head of the German army believes that a fundamental reorganization of the Bundeswehr is necessary because of the fear that a direct conflict with Russia on the eastern flank of NATO has again become possible and that Germany must be ready to react even without the help of the US,” writes Russia Today, referring to the writing of the German Spiegel.

However, Russia Today reports only in the second half of the text that the aim of the document is to reorganize the existing military capacities, so it is proposed to withdraw soldiers from certain UN missions, such as the one in Mali. The document of the German General Staff is based on the position that due to the current situation in Ukraine and “possible attacks on NATO members”, missions abroad should be much less important.

“Missions abroad should be less important in the future, because now it is much more important to prevent attacks on Germany and NATO members,” Spiegel reports.

Although Russia Today conveys the writings of Spiegel, the dominant narrative in the text is that Germany will attack Russia and that this is the reason for the reorganization within the German military.

Author: Sofija Popović