HomeDisinformation in times of crisisWar in UkraineAlbanian authorities debunk the claim of 87 casualties in combat

Albanian authorities debunk the claim of 87 casualties in combat

Claim: Reports of Albanians killed as mercenaries in Ukraine

Assessment: Misleading (out of context)

Ilda Hoxha

Two years after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, disinformation from the Kremlin continues, including claims regarding Albania. Recently, local media extensively covered information distributed by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, alleging that 87 Albanian mercenaries had been killed in Ukraine.

However, Albanian authorities have refuted these claims, stating that there is no official information about Albanian nationals being killed in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs emphasized that Russia’s claims of Albanian mercenaries’ involvement and casualties in the conflict are baseless.

Through a post on the X network, dated March 14, 2024, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that since the start of the conflict, a total of 13,387 foreign mercenaries had arrived in Ukraine. A list of states was presented that the MFA hinted had become involved in the war, emphasizing that 192 were Albanians and 87 of them had been killed.

This claim was widely reported in online media, not only in Albania but also in Kosovo, amplifying Russian propaganda.

The sensational reporting of this ‘shocking’ news from Russia highlights the ongoing challenge of disinformation in the region.

‘RUSSIA SHOCKS: We have killed 171 Albanian and Kosovar mercenaries in Ukraine,’ was reported in online media

‘Reports of Albanians killed as ‘mercenaries’ in Ukraine’ were also reported in Kosovo’s online portals.

This issue was also discussed on television shows, where former soldiers claimed that there are mercenaries in Ukraine, but Russia’s list was inaccurate.

‘Albanians at war with Russia, 171 casualties in battle?’ – was the topic of discussion on one television program.

‘The list is not accurate; it is true that there are foreigners fighting alongside Ukraine. Including some from Albania and Kosovo, but the number does not exceed 25, with the majority from Kosovo,’ – said former soldier Dritan Goxhaj on the show ‘Shqipëria Live’.

The claim by Russian authorities about the killing of mercenaries was also spread on various social media posts, where a response from the Albanian side was also sought.

‘The double standard of the Albanian justice system and the lack of reaction from the Albanian opposition regarding Albanian mercenaries from Albania and Kosovo fighting in Ukraine,’ – is being written by users on social media.

Albanian authorities debunk Russia’s claims

However, what is the reality behind these reports about Albanian mercenaries in Ukraine? Faktoje initially approached the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, inquiring, among other things, about the existence of Albanian mercenaries in Ukraine and any casualties, as asserted by Russian authorities.

In the official response dated March 29, the Ministry stated that there is no official information about Albanians involved in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

‘We inform you that the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs has not had and does not have any official information about Albanian nationals killed in the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine,’ clarified the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

We also contacted the State Police to inquire whether there have been reports from Albanian citizens who have lost contact with their relatives in Ukraine.

‘In response to your request for information on whether there have been reported cases of Albanian citizens losing contact with their relatives in Ukraine, we inform you that after verification, there have been no reports/information regarding this matter,’ the State Police officially informed Faktoje in a response dated April 5.

Furthermore, we submitted a request for information to the State Intelligence Service, but as of the publication of this article, we have not received a response from the institution.

Reiterated Russian Statements on Mercenaries

In June 2022, the Russian Ministry of Defense published statistics on foreign mercenaries allegedly fighting in Ukraine. At that time, it was reported that 42 mercenaries from Albania had been killed in Ukraine, with an estimated total of 150 present since the beginning of the conflict.

These claims were met with a series of responses from Albanian institutions, dismissing the unfounded information coming from Russia.

‘There are no Albanian mercenaries in Ukraine! This is a lie that Moscow continues to shamelessly repeat! Albania stands with Ukraine and will continue to work with all allies and partners to help end Russia’s unwarranted aggression against the people of Ukraine. God bless them,’ was the reaction of Olta Xhaçka, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs at the time.

In a response to Faktoje in June two years ago, the Ministry of Defense emphasized: ‘Just like any other NATO member, Albania has not sent armed forces to Ukraine. Regarding the statements from the Russian Embassy in Tirana, we maintain the same position as the official statement of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs on this issue.’

Prime Minister Edi Rama also publicly addressed the list, commenting that the inclusion of Albania and Kosovo in the war in Ukraine was a repeated and deliberate act.

‘When it comes to fighters in Ukraine, the list of the deceased, the international stakes in Ukraine, Lavrov doesn’t talk about others, he talks about Albanians and Kosovo Albanians. This is based on unfounded figures because we have no information indicating that citizens of the Republic of Albania have been killed in this conflict,’ Rama said in June 2022.

In another article, Faktoje verified the statement of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, made a few days before the war began, regarding mercenaries from Albania being involved in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. This was part of Russia’s war rhetoric and propaganda aimed at promoting disinformation and fake news.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Të fundit

Më të lexuarat