This story was published at 15:28 EST on 26 March 2017, all information is current as of this time and date.
Sputnik news took a legitimate story about increased sanctions against Iran and embellished the story to make it appear as if Russian sanctions were also increasing. Facts about Russian corporations receiving increased sanctions were totally fabricated and amended to a story about Iran receiving increased sanctions. The story is fairly limited, it makes a perfect case study to pick out the originating source, the original story line, and to follow the story to its end.
Researching to find the facts – Russian MFA
Initially, this story was uncovered: New sanctions: ‘Robotic move by US bureaucrats’ or ‘part of anti-Russia propaganda’? There are no links within the article, so I investigated the statement by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
Researching on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Russia) website reveals no such statement about US sanctions which allegedly were emplaced against Russia on 24 March 2017. Searches on the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Russian and in English also turned up no results after both automated and manual searches on both sites.
Various Russian media and propaganda proxies are carrying similar articles. Here they are, in chronological order, from the first to appear to the most recent (this timeline is from first to last). At the bottom of this article is the complete list from which this is derived, in reverse order (oldest at the bottom).
- US Imposes Sanctions Against 8 Russian Companies – US State Department – Sputnik report appeared at 14:51 on Saturday, 25 March 2017) This appears to be the first of the probable disinformation reports.
- ‘Against US security interests’: Moscow bewildered over new sanctions on 8 defense & aviation firms. Published at 16:41 on 25 March 2017
- US sanctions 8 Russian companies over non-proliferation law (the links in this report were unsafe, muddled in malware, so I could not check out their ‘sources’). The story was published by Azeri Press Agency at 17:02
- Moscow disappointed over new US sanctions against Russian companies – Foreign Ministry Tass published at 18:34
- US Sanctions Over Nonproliferation Act Not to Hurt Russia – Russian Lawmaker Sputnik published at 04:25 on 26 March 2017.
- Russia says new U.S. sanctions run against Washington’s anti-terrorist commitment Xinhua published at 09:48 on 26 March 2017.
- Russia ‘disappointed’ over new U.S. sanctions against eight more companies: Foreign Ministry AniNews published at 10:38 on 26 March 2017.
- New sanctions: ‘Robotic move by US bureaucrats’ or ‘part of anti-Russia propaganda’?. Notice the statement by Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, a regular speaker on RT. RT published this at 13:07 on 26 March.
Two Ukraine outlets might have picked this up inadvertently, a mark of poor reporting without verification. Perhaps these publications should be watched for other similar ‘mistakes’.
- Russia comments on new US sanctions imposed against it 112 Ukraine International published at 13:32 on 26 March 2017.
- Eight Russian companies placed under new US sanctions UAWire.org story was published at 17:52 on 26 March 2017.
Researching to find the facts – US Department of State
The US Department of State has not posted anything about new sanctions on their Ukraine and Russia Sanctions Page. There are new sanctions here: Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act Sanctions but no mention of Russia, Russian corporations, or Russian citizens.
Two statements are notable:
- “On March 21, the United States imposed sanctions on 30 foreign entities and individuals in 10 countries pursuant to the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA).”
- “An additional 19 foreign entities and individuals were sanctioned under INKSNA on March 21 for other violations. These entities and individuals were sanctioned as a result of a determination that there was credible information indicating they had transferred to, or acquired from, Iran, North Korea, or Syria goods, services, or technology listed on multilateral export control lists; or on U.S. national control lists, or other items that could make a material contribution to the development of weapons of mass destruction or missile proliferation.”
It is possible the eight Russian companies are among these “19 foreign entities”. There is no listings of the Russian companies – at all – until the Sputnik report, which is the first
Researching to find the facts – Alleged Russian Sanctioned Corporations
Among the eight Russian companies supposedly receiving new sanctions, from aninews.in, are:
- Rosobornexport (last mentioned by State in 2016)
- 150th aircraft repair plant (last mentioned by State in 2015)
- Aviaexport foreign economic trade company (no results at State)
- Bazalt Scientific and Research Corporation (last mentioned by State in 2003)
- Scientific and Production Corporation ‘Engineering Design Bureau (weapons manufacturing companies) (no mention, name is too vague)
- Ulyanovsk Higher Civil Aviation School (the city of Ulyanovsk is mentioned often, but not the school)
- Urals Civil Aviation Training Center (terms too vague, no specific mention)
- Zhukovsky – Gagarin Air Force Academy (no mention at State).
I also searched the State Department website in Russian, both Anglicized and Cyrillic, with no results.
Some articles mention the US State Department issued the statement on Saturday, which is the 25 March, which I find abnormal.
There is absolutely no mention whatsoever of new sanctions aginst Russia in Western media – none, zero, zip, nada.
I am faced with a few conclusions.
- This is a bold-faced lie aka disinformation
- The US Department of State has not yet posted a statement in English on their website
- The US Department of State briefed only the Russians and will wait until Monday to post the update
I find option #1 the most likely. I find option #2 possible but highly improbable. I find option #3 outside the realm of possible reality.
According to the timeline, the Sputnik report was the origin of this thread of apparent disinformation. It was published at 14:51 on 25 March 2017.
Final conclusion: Sputnik invented this disinformation. I would consider this evidence, some would say this is proof, of a complete fabrication for the purposes of disinformation and propaganda against the United States by Russia.
Detailed news article coverage of both Iran and Russia new ‘sanctions’
A complete reversed timeline of the original sanctions against Iran, then, in red, are the ones about supposed Russian sanctions. This timeline is from last to first, or most recent to oldest.