In the fifth year of Russia’s war on Ukraine, Kremlin propaganda and disinformation continue to pollute the pages of popular and influential western media. Kremlin lies and manipulations are often presented as fact, or given equal weight in coverage of Russia’s undeclared and unlawful war on Ukraine, and of Ukraine in general.
According to most western media, from Reuters and AFP to the New York Times, “the Ukraine conflict” in the “east of Ukraine” is fought by “Russia-backed, pro-Kremlin, Ukrainian separatists” who “want independence” against the “corrupt” “nationalist” and “oligarchic” “Kyiv government,” Ariana Gic, an independent legal and political analyst focusing on Ukraine, wrote for StopFake.
Ukrainian legislation which deems Russia as the occupier and aggressor is constantly ignored. Instead, the Kremlin messaging and narratives about Ukraine are often treated as far more credible and trustworthy than what Ukrainians themselves have to say, and what observable facts say.
This can only be regarded as a victory for Moscow, and should shine light on the problem of the extent and reach of the long arm of Kremlin information warfare in its larger, multi-vectored war on Ukraine.
Thanks to western media echoing Kremlin talking points, ordinary people could get a perverted impression of what has happened in Ukraine since the early days of the Maidan revolution.
This starts from the message about “Ukraine having had an “illegal” revolution which caused “tensions” between Ukraine and Russia and triggered a “crisis in Ukraine” as a “nationalist” “Nazi junta” took power.
Then, Moscow's narrative says, Russian speaking Ukrainians in Crimea and parts of Eastern desired “independence” from the “Kyiv regime” and took up arms they “found in old Soviet mines.” Ukraine tried to put the “separatist” “rebellion” down, so these “pro-Kremlin Ukrainian separatists” had no choice by to turn to Moscow for “help.”
Even the very existence of a separate and distinct Ukrainian culture and language is questioned. The two countries are “brotherly nations,” and as President Putin likes to say, they are really “one people.. In reality, Ukrainian is an artificial language – a “lesser” version of Russian for peasants, the uneducated and uncultured.
And yes, Russia “took over” Crimea, but only after Crimeans had a “referendum” to “secede” from Ukraine and “reunify” with Russia. Regardless, Crimea was “always part of Russia” and ended up as part of Ukraine’s territory purely “by chance” as a “political gift” by Khrushchev.
Crimea and Donbas are entirely separate and unrelated matters even though Russia is involved in both Crimea and Donbas. Russia’s involvement in “the Ukraine crisis” in “the east of Ukraine” is limited to “backing” the “pro-Russian separatists.” The “breakaway regions” of Donbas and Luhansk organized “self-proclaimed” “People’s Republics” with whom the Ukraine government refuses to hold direct talks to “negotiate peace.”
“Both sides” are always violating the Minsk peace accords. The Ukrainian government is “provoking Russia” with its “creeping offensive” into the grey zone, trying to take back territory from the “militants.” Ukraine does not really want peace because of political expediency and upcoming elections. Moreover, Kyiv won’t stop the “civil war” effort because the “corrupt politicians” that Ukraine is overrun with make money off the war.
The Ukrainian government has “abandoned the people of Donbas,” and “does not take care of their basic needs.” Kyiv “has no strategy” to “win the hearts and minds” of the people in eastern Ukraine.
Disappointingly, many “experts” who are supposed to have knowledge and expertise to challenge this “unreality” are instead lending credibility to Kremlin lies with their dishonest analysis about Ukraine and Russia’s unlawful war.
Sadly, pointing out the many manipulations, distortions, and outright lies that find their way onto the pages of respected western media, often gets defenders of truth tarred and feathered as having a “Ukraine bias,” being “Russophobic,” “nationalist,” or “supportive of corruption” in Ukraine.
"It is said that Russian propaganda is not truly effective, but what dominates the pages of most media proves otherwise. Lies become truth, and the truth becomes a lie," Ariana Gic writes. "If we do not start to turn our focus on the very real dangers of Kremlin narratives woven through major western media, the fight against Moscow’s information war will never be won."