Budanov’s “Resurrection” and Tractors Instead of Tanks: TOP 10 Recent Failures of Russian Propaganda. Part 2

Budanov’s “Resurrection” and Tractors Instead of Tanks: TOP 10 Recent Failures of Russian Propaganda. Part 2

Israeli passport of Olena Zelenska

During June 20-22, Russian media spread a fake that the wife of the President of Ukraine Olena Zelenska had Israeli citizenship. This allegedly indicates the preparation of the president’s family for escape from Ukraine. A photocopy of the first page of the first lady’s Israeli passport was presented as “evidence.”

However, the falsification turned out to be of really low quality. As a basis, the creators of the fake took a template of an Israeli passport, which can be easily found on the Internet. They took the photo of Olena Zelenska from one of the publications on the social networks of the first lady.

They also confused the date. The date of issue of the document is indicated as 19/06/2023, and the expiration date is 18/06/2023. That is, the passport was “issued” after it lost its validity.

The attack can be considered part of a dirty anti-Semitic campaign directed against the president of Ukraine and his family.

Fake: The wife of the President of Ukraine Olena Zelenska has Israeli citizenship

Fact: The photo of the Israeli “passport” is a gross forgery

Manipulation of losses of Western equipment

The military assistance provided to Ukraine by Western partners is a serious problem for Russia. Therefore, the Kremlin is making great efforts to discredit and disrupt this process. One of the most common methods is regular statements about the poor quality of Western equipment and its destruction on a huge scale.

Among the most recent examples is Putin’s statement about five Patriot complexes allegedly destroyed by the Russians near Kyiv.

In fact, Ukraine received two divisions of Patriot (from the United States and Germany), each consisting of a command post, a radar station, and several launchers. The Pentagon confirmed the damage to one Patriot system as a result of a massive missile attack on May 16. It was promptly repaired and returned to combat duty. Putin’s statements indicate that he does not quite understand what the Patriot complex is made of.

Fake: The Russians destroyed five Patriot complexes in Ukraine

Fact: Putin announced the destruction of more systems than Ukraine has. Ukraine regularly receives ammunition for Patriot in military aid packages from the United States, which indicates the successful combat use of these complexes by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Russian security forces and propagandists are actively promoting the statements about the massive loss of armoured vehicles, in particular Western. On June 21, Putin said that the soldiers destroyed 245 tanks. 

To get such statistics, the Russian military resort to outright falsifications. On June 6, the Russian Defence Ministry reported the destruction of two Leopard tanks and published a “video confirmation.” The footage clearly shows wheeled equipment — John Deere 4830 self-propelled sprayer.

It is worth mentioning that reports from the Russian Ministry of Defence about the destroyed Leopard appeared even before their combat use by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Fake: Russians destroy Leopard tanks in huge quantities

Fact: The Russian military passed off agricultural machinery for the destroyed tanks

Combat mosquitoes from American biolaboratories

The long-running topic of “American biolaboratories” in Ukraine is one of the Kremlin’s main “scarecrows,” which it began to promote to Russian and foreign audiences even before the start of the full-scale invasion. The nonsense about the “Ukrainian combat mosquitoes” at the meeting of the UN Security Council was voiced by the representative of the Russian Federation Nebenzia.

On June 28, Chair of the Federation Council of Russia Valentina Matvienko stated that a report of the commission to investigate the activities of American biological laboratories in Ukraine had been sent to all parliaments of the world. The document refers to the development of “combat” mosquitoes, ticks and lice, “experiments on the military” and “pumping soldiers with drugs.”

The report is the most extensive description of the conspiracy theory, which until 2020 was promoted exclusively by marginal pro-Russian activists. The Russians do not provide any evidence of the “facts” set out in the Russian report. But this does not prevent them from bringing blatant conspiracy to the international level, enhancing it with the “authority” of the upper house of their parliament.

Fake: Americans are breeding combat insects in Ukraine and drugging the Ukrainian military.

Fact: The Russian parliament is promoting evidence-free conspiracy at the international level.

Ukrainians destroyed Mariupol

The Russian military is damaging the cities and villages of Ukraine, destroying cultural monuments, killing and torturing locals. This does not prevent propaganda from portraying armed aggression and seizure of territories as “liberation” and accusing Ukrainian defenders of their own crimes.

On May 20, the head of the occupation administration of Mariupol, Oleg Morgun, during the celebrations on the occasion of the first anniversary of seizing the city (which propaganda calls “liberation from Nazi occupation”), accused the Armed Forces of Ukraine of destroying and killing civilians.

“These events intersect with the distant 1943 year, then, under the onslaught of the liberating Red Army, the fascists, fleeing from the city, sought to destroy its infrastructure, take out all the valuables and food, significantly reduce the number of able-bodied population that could begin to rebuild the country. After almost 80 years, it almost happened again,” he said.

Morgun did not mention the fact that it was the Russian army that, during the full-scale invasion, stormed the city for three months and destroyed it using artillery and aviation. Strikes on the maternity hospital and the drama theatre, with civilians and children hiding in the basement, became symbols of Russian barbarism and the tragedy of Mariupol, where more than 20,000 residents died as a result of the Russian invasion.

Fake: Mariupol was destroyed by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, not by Russian aviation and artillery.

Fact: Russia is engaged in outright victimblaming, shifting responsibility for crimes from the aggressor to the victim of aggression.

Ukraine claims inheritance of Berlusconi

After the death of Italian politician and businessman Silvio Berlusconi, pro-Russian resources promoted an outright fake about Ukraine’s claims to his inheritance. The messages were based on a completely fictional statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba. He allegedly said that Berlusconi was a friend of Putin, and therefore Europe should confiscate all the property of the deceased and give it to Ukraine as compensation for the war crimes of Russia.

Of course, Kuleba did not make such statements and Ukraine did not put forward any claims on Berlusconi’s property and assets. The purpose of the fake is to promote the statement that Ukraine is supposedly a “black hole,” where European funds disappear, and therefore assistance to it needs to be stopped.

Fake: Foreign Minister of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba announced Ukraine’s claims to Silvio Berlusconi’s inheritance.

Fact: Russian propaganda invented Kuleba’s statement and spread a fake to discredit Ukraine in Italy and other EU countries.

Ukraine exports valuables from the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra to Europe

On June 26, Russian media spread a statement by the chief of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Russia, Sergei Naryshkin, that Ukraine planned to export valuables, including the relics of saints, from the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra to France, Germany, Italy, and the Vatican. Allegedly, the return of the relics to Ukraine “is not planned.”

Naryshkin’s statement was promptly refuted by the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine. The Ministry reminded that the main threat to the Ukrainian cultural heritage was the armed aggression of Russia. “No relic will leave the territory of Ukraine. Russia will have to return everything it stole,” the ministry stated.

The Russian special services spread the fake about the preparation for the export of sacred valuables from Ukraine to provoke an interfaith confrontation in Ukraine. It is for this purpose that the message mentions the Vatican: to strengthen the narrative of “the seizure of Orthodox relics by Catholics and schismatics.” In addition, using the information noise, Russia seeks to hide its own crimes against the cultural heritage of Ukraine: the robbery of museums and theft of archaeological artefacts in the occupied territories, the destruction of ancient churches, architectural monuments in the combat zone and the blow-up of the Kakhovka HPP.

Fake: Ukraine plans to take valuables from the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra state reserve to the EU and leave them there.

Fact: The head of the Foreign Intelligence Service Naryshkin spread lies to conceal the crimes of Russia against the Ukrainian cultural heritage and provoke confrontation in Ukraine on religious grounds.

Pizzeria in Kramatorsk turned out to be a military facility

On the evening of June 27, the Russians launched a missile attack on the Ria Lounge pizzeria in the centre of Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast. As a result of the strike, 12 people were killed, 65 were injured.

Russian propagandists traditionally accused the Ukrainian Armed Forces of the attack.

But later, the official version was “a high-precision strike on the temporary deployment point of the 56th Separate Motorized Infantry Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”

It was voiced by the Russian Ministry of Defence on June 28. The next day, the ministry announced that two generals, 50 officers, and 20 foreign mercenaries had been killed.

The strike on the catering facility once again proved that the assurances of the Russian authorities that the Armed Forces of Russia did not strike civilian targets was a cynical lie.

In Kramatorsk, three teenage girls were killed, an eight-month-old baby was injured. During the shelling, Colombian MP Sergio Jaramillo, writer Héctor Abad, and reporter Catalina Gomez were injured. All of them, according to Russian propaganda, turned out to be “officers of the Armed Forces” or “Western mercenaries.”

Fake: The pizza place in Kramatorsk, which was visited by both civilians and the military, turned out to be the location of the AFU unit.

Fact: The Russian military carried out the terrosist attack, killing civilians, including children. The assurances of the Russians that they are targeting exclusively military facilities are a lie.

Disinformation is part of the aggressive war that Russia is waging against Ukraine. Fakes and manipulations are spread in the information space in a non-stop mode to demoralize Ukrainians and affect the level of support of our state by international partners. The mechanism for the spread of these fakes is coordinated information campaigns mainly on social networks. 

The Russians are systematically working to drive a wedge between Ukrainians and Western partners and among Ukrainians, to undermine the level of trust in the military and political leadership of Ukraine.

Centre for Strategic Communication and Information Security

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