20:47 GMT20 January 2021
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    Moscow has rebutted NATO's accusation that Russia was "weaponizing" tmigrant crisis in Europe. Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman Igor Konashenkov dismissed the allegations, stressing that the crisis began long before Russia started its operation in Syria.

    According to Scott Bennett, former US Army psychological warfare officer and counterterrorism analyst, the US has started its "old game" of demonizing Russia and uses propaganda to achieve its own goals.

    "The US weaponized it [the migration crisis] by influencing the behaviors and the minds of the European decision makers," Bennet told Sputnik. "This is a very dangerous new paradigm," he added.

    According to the expert, Washington makes Europe decide to keep sanctions against Russia or, for example, freeze Russian assets. In Bennet's opinion, the US sticks to its old tried methods and presents Russia's strategy in Syria as if being aimed at destroying Europe.

    Earlier, NATO's General Philip Breedlove accused Russia and the Syrian government of deliberately weaponizing migration in an attempt to overwhelm European structures and break European resolve". However, Bennett denounced Breedlove's statement, calling it propaganda aimed at "extending US power".

    "The US has destroyed Libya, destroyed Syria, destroyed Iraq, tried to destroy Egypt," the expert said, adding that Russia is, on the contrary, "the one fighting for the freedom, and the liberty, and the traditional European heritage and culture."

    In his opinion, Russia has to "counteract the US message" and convince EU countries that the US is using the refugee issue for manipulation purposes, because if Americans are successful with this narrative, they will "have a strategic advantage" and do even more things in this direction, Bennet argued.

    If the US is able to turn Europe against Russia this could lead to further unwelcome and dangerous scenarios like the partition of Syria or the overthrow of the Assad government.

    "They really have to win the hearts and mind of Europeans," the expert said. "I think Europeans will slowly look for reasons to befriend Russia. And that's a wonderful opportunity. Russia should really cultivate that."


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