Russian Federation creates fakes on “bad” Poland which “did not wish to help Italy”29.04.2020
Russian media published statements about Poland not allowing Russian aircrafts carrying humanitarian aid for fighting Covid19 to enter its air space.
This is the topic of an article by Julius Sabak, published in Defence24. According to Russian media, this was the reason why Russian aircrafts had to use a longer route across the Black Sea, Turkey, Greece and Albania. Ministry of Defence of Poland gave a brief and concise answer to these claims: Russian side has not send any requests for entering the air space of Poland.
Moscow was actively promoting the flights by the Russian aircrafts transporting humanitarian assistance and medical staff to Italy. Italy hasbeen losing the fight with covid 19 for some time. Tonns of equipement as well as medical staff have been transported by aircrafts on 22 and 23 March. This was done in accordance with an agreeement reached by the phone by President Putin and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Relevant intergovernmental memoranda were signed at the government level between heads of ministers of defence Sergey Shoigu and Lorenzo Guerini. Five aircrafts IL-76MD left the base in Chkalivsk, 31 km from Moscow, heading to the Italian base Pratica di Mare not far from Rome. The aicrafts’ route was 2400 km long, going over Voronezh, Rostov-on-Don, in order to cross the Black Sea and to enter the arispace of Turkey, passing over Istanbul, Saloniki in Greece and over Albania. As Flightradar24 shows, after crossing the Adriatics, the aircrafts entered the Italian airspace and headed towards Rome.
This operation was widely covered by Russian media, as an example of solidarity with suffering Italians. However, it was exactly on 23 March when unexpected claims against Poland were announced. According to the Kremlin propagandists, Warsaw made it impossible for the Russians to use a shorter route via Belarus, Poland and then the south of Italy. It is clear due to which reasons Russian aircrafts avoid the air space of Ukraine.
Russian Sputnik, as well as other Russian media, said: “Russian aircrafts carrying aid for Italy could not use the Polish airspace”. Numerous fake accounts in internet claimed the same, quting Aleksey Pushkov, one of the Russian politicians, who heads Committee on Information Policy at the Council of Russian Federation. He is also a presenter and the author of the analytical programme “Postscriptum”, broadcast by the state TV channel “Tsentr”.
On 23 March 2020, he published the following post in his social media: “Poland did not allow Russian aircrafts with aid for Italy to enter their airspace. This is indignity at the level of state policy. Moreover, assistance was coming to the country-ally of Poland by NATO and the EU. Russia should not be favourable to Poland. On no matter!”
This tweet and the route of Russian aircrafts started an intensive propaganda campaign blaming Poland in making obstruction to delivery of aid. Russian propaganda dipicted Poland as a Russophobic state, working for Donald Trump. Such statements were disseminated by journalists of Russia Today and Sputnik with reference to Pushkov. Not a single Polish source was mentioned, though Kremlin propagandists claimed they addressed requests to the Polish government.
While investigating this case, Defence24.pl directed several questions to the Polish ministry of defence and main headquarters of the armed forces. According to the Polish law, these public bodies have authority to issue permissions for military aircrafts to enter the air space of Poland. We received an answer within an hour. “The Russian side did not request any permissions to enter the air space of Poland. Their privisional route was planned to go via Russia, Turkey, Greece, Albania and Italy. Press department of the ministry of defence of Poland”.
This brief release was sufficient for the matter to be closed, however we anticipate it being used for a long time by the false narratives of the Kremlin. This case can be seen as one of the numerous attempts to set up a conflict between the member states of the EU and NATO, which are now facing the challenges of covid19 and the economic crisis which also brings about a serious emotional pressure.
PANSA (Polish Agency for Air Navigation Service) also commented on this situation in the Polish airspace. The Agency is responsible for air control in air space of Poland. The statement said, “It is not true that Polish air space was closed to the aircrafts of Russian origin. The air space over Poland is open, safe and effectively managed. It is not restricted. Pavlo Lukashevych, press secretary of PANSA”
Despite the emergency measures caused by the pandemic, and despite restrictions on the airliners traffic, all the other air traffic functions without any interruptions. The situation was also mentioned by HEMS, general aviation or law enforcement and emergency aviation. Russian aircrafts perform flights over Poland on a daily basis, for example, today’s Aeroflot flights from Moscow to Rome, which route was planned to go via Poland.