Article by: Nazariy Zanos
The Kremlin propaganda machine has been programmed to regularly throw new fakes, disinformation and misinterpretation of events into the worldwide information network. Developing new conspiracy theories, Russian troll artists spread confusion, build a given situation up to where it becomes totally absurd, and then explain that there are many truths, so why not see the world through Putin’s eyes?
However, there is a complex of lies that Russian media continue to spew out regularly and methodically. They are mainly used when it is necessary to destroy the enemy, show his weakness, and distance him from his partners.
Here are the top 5 myths, lies and fakes about Ukraine that Russian media is spreading in global information space.
Lie No.1: Ukraine is a “failed state”
Russia has been trying to convince the world that Ukraine is a non-country, a state that has not really happened. Moscow explains that Ukraine appeared on the world map as a geopolitical misunderstanding in the wake of the collapse of the USSR. This thesis was actively spread in foreign media during the Maidan and became one of the Kremlin’s justifications for the invasion, occupation and annexation of Crimea.
Russian propaganda paints a picture of Ukraine as a country overcome with corruption, chaos and lawlessness. Ukrainian authorities are unable to exercise control in any sphere and Ukraine is an unreliable partner. Therefore, Ukraine cannot be trusted, nor is the country safe for business investments. In fact, Ukraine should be “re-educated” by Russia in order to become an island of “security and stability” in the region.
Things are really quite different…The Fund for Peace recently published the Fragile States Index that determines how far states are able to control their territory, define their social, cultural, military policies, etc. Ranking is based on the sum of scores for 12 indicators. Each indicator is scored on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being the lowest intensity (most stable) and 10 being the highest intensity (least stable), creating a scale spanning 0−120.
According to 2017 data, Russia occupies 67th place (lower position) in the FSI, and Ukraine is 90th (higher position)… and this despite the war, the occupation of Crimea and, consequently, considerable problems with the economy. However, if we are to believe Kremlin propaganda, Russia is not fighting anyone, and despite the sanctions so unjustly imposed by the West, its economy is as strong as ever strong and seemingly unaffected by the sanctions.
The Fund for Peace rating clearly shows which country is doing better. Ukraine is slowly but surely getting off its knees!
Lie No.2: Ukraine is Russia’s “sphere of interest”
The Russian authorities are definitely fishing for their dreams and actions in the distant past. Therefore, Russia’s propaganda is often replete with postulates and assertions from the Soviet period.
The question of spheres of influence and interest, a widely acknowledged concept dating back to the beginning of the 20th century and the Cold War, has returned to political discourse in the framework of the Ukrainian crisis. After the Cold War, the concept seemed to go into the dustbin of history; mechanisms of power have become more sophisticated. Nevertheless, Russia, through its recent activity, and particularly its denied activity in Ukraine, seems to want to keep the term on the agenda. Therefore, it is not even worth entering into a discussion about this nebulous concept. It should immediately be rejected as a reflection of bygone political thinking.
Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, etc. are all independent states that have the right to determine their own destiny freely, and not be treated as replaceable “values” on the political chess board. The people of these countries know better who their real friends are and which alliances to join.
Spheres of influence date back to the past and should be kept there.
Lie No.3: There is a “civil war” raging in Ukraine
The Kremlin is using all possible arguments to qualify the conflict in Donbas as a civil war, an internal conflict among Ukrainians.
However, it is Russia that always sets the terms and conditions for negotiations and appoints puppet leaders of fake republics and armed groups, who are directly in touch with the Kremlin. Moreover, what is there to say about Russian weapons, which are delivered to the separatists and Russian troops in the “DNR/LNR” (as verified through confessions by Russian soldiers captured by the Ukrainian army)?
During the annexation of Crimea, which is now openly recognized and glorified in the Kremlin, Putin also asserted that Russia had nothing to do with the takeover of the peninsula. This says a lot about how much we can trust words coming from Moscow. Also, we should not forget about the Russian trolls and bot farms that are trying to impact the situation in Ukraine in every possible way.
This is the kind of civil war between Ukrainians that Russia has come up with…
However, as soon as Russia decides to wash its hands of the whole Ukrainian situation, most of these trolls and hackers will disappear like dew before the morning sun.
Lie No.4: The “ultra-right” governs Ukraine
Long before the annexation of Crimea and the war in the Donbas, Russia tried to build up and impose the image of Ukraine as a mirror reflection of Nazism. Russian political technologists often tried to present former President Viktor Yushchenko as a Ukrainien fuehrer. As a matter of fact, anyone who refused to listen and kowtow to the Kremlin and led a more or less independent form of government was labeled a Nazi by the Russian authorities.
However, the far right parties failed to gain any sort of viable representation in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in the last elections, whereas European parliaments sometimes have large representations of ultra-right factions.
There have also been many attempts to stir up inter-ethnic conflicts throughout Ukraine: Polish and Jewish memorials and monuments have been desecrated or destroyed, offices representing the Hungarian minority were burnt down in Transcarpathia, etc. It is in this way that the Kremlin wants to reinforce the stereotype of Ukrainians as extremist Nazis and anti-Semites.
However, a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in the United States showed that Ukraine has the lowest level of anti-Semitism in Central and Eastern Europe. Approximately 5% of the adult population said that they would not want to have Jews as fellow citizens, whereas in Russia this figure stood at 14%.
The Russian trace can be found everywhere. A whole book can be written about all the ultra-right forces of Europe that follow Putin and are also financed by the Kremlin.
Lie No.5: Ukraine deprives Russian speakers of their rights
According to Kremlin propaganda, the Maidan and Yanukovych’s exit from Ukraine posed a huge danger to Russians and Russian-speakers in Ukraine, so Putin decided that it was high time to annex Crimea and create a geographical region called “Novorossiya” (New Russia).
In fact, the main enemy of Russian-speaking Ukrainians is the Kremlin. No one has brought them more loss and suffering than Putin. After all, it was Putin that launched the war in the Donbas, where many ethnic Russians have lived for decades.
Despite a number of quotas, Ukrainian information space is still largely dominated by the Russian language and culture. Just look at the newspapers and magazines for sale in kiosks and newsstands across Ukraine – most of them are in Russian…despite the fact that 68% of Ukrainians say that Ukrainian is their native language.
Meanwhile, the rights of Ukrainians are systematically violated in Russia. Ukrainian speakers cannot pursue their studies in their mother tongue, and Ukrainian organizations and institutions “disloyal” to the Kremlin are regularly persecuted.
If Putin really wanted to spare a good thought for ethnic Russians in Ukraine, he would first have to stop the war in Ukraine.
In conclusion, the real source of instability in Europe and in the world is neither Ukraine nor the Caucasus… and certainly not the Balkans. The source is Russia. It would be more than enough to get rid of the Kremlin’s influence, fight back a little harder and put Russia where it belongs – and the situation in the world would immediately get much better.