Lithua­nia sees fake news at­tempt to dis­credit Nato ex­er­cises

The Borneo Post - - WORLD -

KULAUTUVA, Lithua­nia: Lithua­nia’s de­fence min­is­ter said on Wed­nes­day a re­port about a US ar­moured ve­hi­cle sup­pos­edly killing a boy there was fake news and an at­tempt to dis­credit Nato ex­er­cises in the Baltics.

Posted to an ob­scure web­site but made to look like a story from Lithua­nia’s top news web­site Delfi, the June 7 blog say­ing a US Army ve­hi­cle hit a boy on a bi­cy­cle bore the hall­marks of a fake rape claim pub­lished last year, Rai­mon­das Karob­lis told Reuters.

The story in­cluded a pic­ture pur­port­ing to show a bro­ken bi­cy­cle ly­ing in front of the ve­hi­cle.

The min­is­ter did not iden­tify who might have been re­spon­si­ble, but said he had in­formed his Nato coun­ter­parts.

“Such de­ceit­ful news is al­most a text­book ex­am­ple ... so oth­ers should know that things like this are pos­si­ble and they should pre­pare for them,” said Karob­lis.

“There is now doubt that some­one was pre­par­ing for such in­ci­dents and had var­i­ous sce­nar­ios in place.”

A se­nior Nato gen­eral has said last year Rus­sia was be­hind the false rape claims against Ger­man soldiers and warned of more such re­ports.

The Rus­sian de­fence min­istry has re­peat­edly de­nied that Moscow stages any such dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns.

US Army Eu­rope was not im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment on the blog, which sur­faced as some 20,000 Nato and other Western troops trained in a se­ries of war games across the Baltics this month.

They cul­mi­nated on Wed­nes­day in a dra­matic river cross­ing aimed at test­ing Nato troops’ abil­ity to move quickly to the al­liance’s east­ern flank in the event of a con­flict with Rus­sia.

Wor­ried since Rus­sia’s 2014 seizure of Crimea that Moscow could in­vade Poland or the Baltic states, Nato has bol­stered its east­ern f lank with troops, war games and equip­ment ready for a rapid re­sponse force of up to 40,000 per­son­nel.

The United States is test­ing Nato forces’ readi­ness for com­bat, while Rus­sia says the al­liance build- up threat­ens the sta­bil­ity of cen­tral Eu­rope. — Reuters

Al­lied troops cross Neman river dur­ing Nato ex­er­cise Saber Strike in Kulautuva, Lithua­nia. — Reuters photo

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