Russian propaganda links anti-vaccination with Ukraine

Strangely enough, Canadians opposed to COVID vaccines typically support the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

image Mother Jones

What is the connection? None that I can see. One is a medical issue, the other a military one.

Big Tent political parties embrace diverse positions but they don’t compare with the widely disparate views of Russia’s misadventures in Ukraine and the dangers of COVID vaccines.

Political leaders are not immune. Alberta’s new Premier Danielle Smith supports both antivaxxers and Russia.

Her parroting of Russian propaganda came to a wider public audience after she became premier.

Smith is coming under fire for comments she made online about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a few months before getting the province’s top job.

In a livestream on April 29, Smith was asked about her thoughts on the “peace plan for Ukraine, Russia.”

She answered by giving a hypothetical case where Canada has nuclear weapons and is aligned with Russia, and how that would upset the U.S.

“So, why would we be surprised if Russia is upset because Ukraine has nuclear weapons and is aligned with the United States?” she said in the livestream. “I think the only answer for Ukraine is neutrality.”

Her ignorance is astonishing. Ukraine doesn’t have nuclear weapons. Ukraine is neutral, not a member of NATO.

On February 24, Smith was asked if areas of Ukraine should be allowed to break away and govern themselves independently.

“It seems to me the great powers of the world did a terrible job defining the new borders of countries after WWII”, Smith replied, “So much of the conflict we have had since is due to different people being crammed under one national government that don’t like each other,” the post said.

She added that nations should be allowed to break away and govern themselves independently if they want.

Of course that’s true. Quebec almost broke away from Canada in a narrow vote conducted in 1995. However, Quebec wasn’t invaded by a foreign government and forced to vote for separation while staring down the barrel of a gun.

Smith’s source of propaganda is globalresearch.ca, a website known for promoting disinformation from Russia.

A board member with the Canada-Ukraine Foundation calls the comments deeply disturbing and misinformed.

“To be honest, I was taken aback,” board member Bohdan Romaniuk told CTV News.

“With all due respect to our new premier, they demonstrate a profound ignorance of history,” he said.

Smith is not the only Canada who has fallen under the sway of Russian propaganda.

In survey conducted in March by EKOS, unvaccinated Canadians are much more likely than those who received three doses to believe Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was justified.

The poll found 26 per cent of those who identified as unvaccinated agreed the Russian invasion is justified compared to only two per cent of surveyed Canadians who said they had three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and who supported the invasion.

What connects the two issues? EKOS president Frank Graves says it’s clear:

“This is definitely a new and bluntly insidious force that’s contributing to polarization and disinformation and poor decision-making. And it doesn’t seem to be going away. Things are getting worse,” said Graves. “I don’t think this is because those people had an ingrained sympathy to the Russians. They’re reading this online, they’re consuming this from the same sources that were giving them the anti-vax stuff.”

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