Could it be “fake news” sometimes finds its was out of the communist state, or are accusations correct arguing NATO troop behavior is a black eye to the organization’s presence in Europe?
It’s probably pretty easy to argue Russian media will broadcast (or craft) any story that puts the West under a dark cloud of suspicion. Case in point is a story published Wednesday by Russian media outlet Sputnik News with the headline, “I pee freely: US Soldier Relieves Himself on Lithuanian Government Building.”
The story alleges a US Army soldier has been fined 15 Euros (about $16 US) after getting caught urinating on the Lithuanian Ministry of the Interior building in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Sputnik contends the alleged incident is the latest in a never-ending series of unpleasant situations involving NATO troops in the Baltic countries in recent weeks.
Sputnik’s claims of landowners chasing troops off their farms, and troops bursting into spontaneous live-fire exercise maybe just that — claims.
According to DW.com, which is Germany’s leading organization for international media development, Lithuanians are delighting as NATO forces arrive for military exercises.
DW.com, who according to their website, supports the development of independent, transparent media systems, quality journalism and media expertise, tells the story of one Lithuanian named Martas Stelmokas.
Stelmokas and his family watched as NATO troops rolled down a dirt road in front of his house, accompanied by hundreds of troops.
The report highlights how Lithuanians have watched this kind of scene play out before with excruciating consequences. During World War II, four years of brutal German occupation gave way to more than 50 years of forced Soviet annexation.
But Stelmokas and his family weren’t sheltering inside, hiding the valuables from the inevitable demands of the camouflage-faced soldiers swarming the fields. They were out taking selfies with the troops.
“It’s very exciting!” the 33-year-old Stelmokas exclaimed for DW.com. “It’s the first time we’ve seen these big tanks here.”
“He’s too young,” joked an older relative, alluding to previous visits by “big tanks” that weren’t so thrilling.
Stelmokas goes on happily describing how French soldiers let his little boy sit in a tank and start it, calling the presence of foreign forces in his front yard “only positive.”
As Sputnik, and its anonymous sources, claims A NATO Humvee carrying US servicemen accidentally rammed into a civilian vehicle in Marijampole, Lithuania, seriously injuring three, young women inside — DW.com paints quite a different picture of what’s really happening.
Lithuanian Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis said that while Lithuania’s wartime experience with Germany is a very painful memory, it’s one that’s long gone. He would like to see more German influence in all practical areas, including security and defense.
“Yes, the American presence and leadership in NATO and worldwide is good,” he told said, “but I also think that it is the time for Germany to take the lead and with this eFP presence, we expect that it’s also one of the beginning stages of such leadership in Europe.”
While Sputnik spews its rhetoric, citizens on the ground are happy NATO is in town, and NATO’s reassurance measures are working for Martas Stelmokas.
He said while he’s not sure Russia actually would dare cross the border; Lithuanians fear the past determines the future. And if that’s the case, Stelmokas says he feels much better having NATO camped out in his front yard.
NATO’s “Saber Strike,” annual exercise began May 28 and runs to Saturday throughout the Baltic States and Poland. The exercise is designed to fine-tune international compatibility and also to formally inaugurate the battle groups, which reached full operational capacity this week.
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