"The elected minister doesn't care about the will of the voters," wrote Left-wing MP Żaklin Nastic. AfD chairwoman Alice Weidel called for Baerbock's resignation: "Anyone who expressly gives a damn about the interests of voters in Germany has no place in a ministerial office," she wrote on Twitter. The "so-called Foreign Minister Baerbock" must now "be afraid of popular uprisings," wrote the AfD parliamentary group in the Baden-Württemberg state parliament in a press release.
The reason for this excitement was a tweet from a Twitter channel called "Russian American Daily". The post shows a video sequence that was created last Wednesday at a panel discussion in Prague. "If I make the promise to the people of Ukraine: 'We will stand by you as long as you need us', then I want to keep it. It doesn't matter what my German voters think, but I want to keep the promise to the Ukrainian people." , says Baerbock in English on the recording.
However, the video is accompanied by a sentence that not only puts Baerbock's statement in a completely different context, but also puts words in her mouth that were not spoken. "German Foreign Minister: I will put Ukraine first, 'no matter what my German constituents think' or how difficult their life becomes."
It is this tweet that is being circulated online by Kremlin sympathizers and right-wing groups - including AfD chairwoman Weidel. The fact that the quotation marks that mark the direct quote only frame a small part of the tweet headline is simply ignored. Where the other passages come from is not explained at any point.
The source of the post is more than doubtful. The account is operated by an organization called The American Council for U.S.-Russia Engagement. According to her own description, she wants to deliver "news and diverse opinions on the West-Russian crisis".
Except that the opinions are not as diverse as promised. Instead, the organization spreads misleading reports via various social networks, which, however, correspond entirely to the narrative of the Kremlin propaganda. For example, a video on YouTube states that Ukraine is not a democratic state. In a tweet, an audio statement from a British ex-military man is played, denying Ukraine any chance of victory - at least that's what the title of the post promises.
But there is no corresponding quote in the audio file. Although said Richard Dannatt, who is oddly named as Richard Donatt in the post, was actually Chief of the British General Staff from 2006 to 2009. In 2011 he was elevated to Baron Dannatt, of Keswick in the County of Norfolk, and has been a member of the House of Lords ever since.
It doesn't matter whether it's Lord Dannatt or Annalena Baerbock - the procedure is always the same. Statements are taken out of context and a framework is set that leads to a wrong interpretation.
However, if you look at the operators behind the organization "The American Council for U.S.-Russia Engagement" and their social appearances, it becomes clear that these misinterpretations are anything but coincidental. The director is a certain Vladimir Rodzianko, an American with Russian roots. He is also one of the founders of the Duran website, a pro-Russian website that has published conspiracy theories and false information.
During the 2016 US election campaign, messages appeared on the platform claiming that Julian Assange found evidence in Hillary Clinton's emails that she had sold arms to the IS terrorist group in Syria.
In 2018, the Duran platform called the poisoning of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia a "hoax". And as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, the site spread disinformation about vaccines and conspiracy theories about Bill Gates, in line with Kremlin directives.
Rodzianko has made no secret of his love for Vladimir Putin. At a church event in 2017, he called the Russian president "the boss." From 2015 to 2016 he also served as the "Director of Business Development" for another pro-Kremlin propaganda site called "Russia Insider".
During the Trump presidency, Rodzianko headed the Russian-American Cooperation Initiative (RACI) organization with a certain Sergey Gladysh. Supposedly to promote "relationship building, fostering dialogue, and cultivating trust." However, investigative platform Forensic News revealed that the organization's primary purpose was to promote the views of the Russian state and support then-President Trump.
In 2018, Rodzianko and Gladysh were interrogated by the FBI. The latter is said to be the target of a spy investigation. But instead of going out of business, Rodzianko and Gladysh renamed their organization. RACI became "The American Council for U.S.-Russia" - the organization behind the misleading Baerbock tweet.
Rodzianko and Gladysh openly flaunt their proximity to the Kremlin. Since 2018, they have directed the program that brings American students to Russia to "help future decision-makers gain a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of contemporary Russia." As part of this program, the two introduced the students to high-profile figures of the Russian state, including Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova and Alexander Sergeyev, President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, as evidenced by joint pictures.
The duo also claim to have a direct relationship with the Russian embassy. "We assisted the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C. in organizing a lecture event for Ambassador Anatoly Antonov during his summer visit to Seattle," their website reads. This speech event was hosted by another non-profit organization, but Gladysh and Rodzianko were photographed sitting in the front row as Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov delivered a speech.