On Friday, February 4, the American outlet Bloomberg erroneously published the news of “Russia’s invasion” of Ukraine and kept the fake headline for around half an hour on its website. The news agency said that the headline was pre-made and that it was published by mistake.
“We prepare headlines for many scenarios and the headline ‘Russia Invades Ukraine’ was inadvertently published around 4 p.m. ET today on our website. We deeply regret the error. The headline has been removed and we’re investigating the cause,” the agency said.
The Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, Farhan Haq, reacted to the fake announcement, calling on all parties to avoid provocative rhetoric and warning that it could escalate tensions.
“We believe that all sides should avoid any action or rhetoric that could escalate the situation,” Haq said when asked if the UN was concerned about such an example of misinformation.
The situation over Ukraine, however, remains tense, as the US and NATO accuse Moscow of amassing troops on the border with the neighbouring country, and are sending their own military contingents to Eastern Europe. The US National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, has claimed in a series of interviews that the US government believes Russia might invade Ukraine in a matter of weeks or even days.
“We are in the window. Any day now, Russia could take military action against Ukraine, or it could be a couple of weeks from now. […] We believe that there is a very distinct possibility that Vladimir Putin will order an attack on Ukraine,” Sullivan said.
The official, however, failed to mention any evidence that led the White House to believe this was possible. He continued saying that the possible “invasion” could take a number of different forms claiming that it can be not only in the form of an invasion but also cyberattacks against Ukraine or the annexation of the Donbass region in the country’s East.
According to Moscow, the West has used the pretext of a purported “invasion” to beef up the Ukrainian military and create an “anti-Russia” project. The Kremlin has repeatedly underlined that Russia does not pose any threat to anyone, including Ukraine, and the “invasion” claims are nothing more than provocations.
It is worth reminding that it was Russia who has been striving to achieve a diplomatic solution to heightened tensions, proposing security guarantees agreements to the US and NATO. According to the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, the talks on the security guarantees have not ended, with Russia yet to react to the West’s written responses.
As for the Bloomberg’s title, Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that the misleading piece showcases the extremely heightened tensions, spurred by the West’s aggressive stance on Russia and demonstrates that such provocative reports might lead to “irreparable consequences,” saying that now “any spark is extraordinarily dangerous,” as quoted by Channel One.
“This is an illustration of the consequences that the atmosphere of extreme tension that has developed due to these aggressive actions of our counterparties in Europe can have. And it’s also a great demonstration of how such messages can lead to irreparable consequences. And in general, such a serious publication as Bloomberg… now we will not talk about fake news, but Bloomberg News, which will have a basis,” Peskov concluded.
In turn, the Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, later reinforced that position by noting that the Bloomberg incident revealed a global campaign unleashed against Russia through political pressure and misinformation.
“This is a way of waging a struggle in conditions when there is no way to withstand competition by legal means, such an approach, which has already become classic, is used of information and political pressure, campaigns, and so on… Now it has already become such a global campaign against our country under the slogan of supposedly impending Russian aggression against Ukraine. There is no logic, no facts, there is a large number of fakes, misinformation, outright madness, multiplied, it seems to me, by some kind of nonsense,” Zakharova said.