Russia launched its “special military operation” in the early hours of February 24. The scale and direction of the Russian attack show that Moscow was planning a blietzkrieg that would end with the beheading of the Ukrainian leadership and at least the seizing of the entire Black Sea coast to open the way to Transnistria. However, the Ukrainian resistance overturned Moscow's plans, and the conflict became a long-lasting one, in which both camps have scored successes, but also failures. Veridica presents 10 of the main moments of this war.
After the liberation of the Crimean peninsula and the occupied territories in Donbas, anti-Russian foreign companies will be entitled to tear apart these territories, the Russian media writes, quoting Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. In fact, the Ukrainian leader spoke about projects designed to rebuild Ukraine, with the help of foreign companies. The president’s speech makes no mention of “Russophobia” or “tearing apart” Ukrainian territories, as the Russian propaganda claims.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has displaced a huge number of Ukrainian refugees. Millions of people fled Ukraine, heading to other European countries, although many chose to relocate to some of the country’s safer areas. Russia has been trying to turn this crisis to its advantage. In EU countries, it has been promoting false narratives designed to generate public hostility towards Ukrainian refugees. In the case of Ukrainians relocated at national level, Russian propaganda sought to focus on fueling public unrest and internal tensions.
International observers from Western states have confirmed that the referendums in Donbass and in the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions met the democratic standards, Russian state media say. In reality, the Western states did not send observers to the so-called referendums, and the “experts” cited by the Russian media are born in the West, but have lived in Russia for many years and support the Kremlin's policies.
The population of Donbas, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson have a right to self-determination under the UN Charter, which makes the referendums in southern and eastern Ukraine legitimate, says Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov. In fact, Russia violated the UN Declaration on the Principles of International Law by invading Ukraine, and the international community will not recognize the referendums.
The Russian independent press reports that Russian doctors, teachers, civil servants and builders are being sent to the occupied territories of Ukraine to prepare “the union with Russia”. Meanwhile, Western sanctions are hitting the Russian economy and the well-being of the population, experts say. President Putin, however, continues to blackmail Europe with cold in the winter and famine.
The Ukrainian army is bringing bodies and destroyed military technology to the town of Lysychansk to stage a new massacre, representatives of the Russian Ministry of Defense claim. This is the latest false narrative whereby Moscow is trying to blame Ukraine for the war crimes committed by Russian troops.
Telegram accounts in Russia and the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk are disseminating propaganda narratives, according to which Kyiv leaders are starting to understand Kharkiv will unite with Russia, which is why Ukraine is not investing in the reconstruction of this oblast. In fact, Ukraine has ruled out the concession of any territory, but it cannot start reconstructing its cities as long as they are still being bombed.
The inhabitants of Zaporizhzhia has asked that their city be included in the People’s Republic of Donetsk, the Russian media writes. This is a fabrication – there has never been a request in this sense.
Despite its overwhelming superiority in terms of military strength, Russia did not attain any notable objective in Ukraine, primarily due to the Ukrainians’ staunch resistance. Evidence of that can be found in the territories occupied by the Russian army, where the population refuses to accept occupation forces and the few local collaborators the Kremlin is trying to impose in key leadership positions.
Most Ukrainians are waiting to be liberated by Russia, which has been forced to launch a special operation and is the victim of Ukraine’s aggression, says the Luhansk separatist leader. These false narratives are amplified by the Russian media.
In the articles selected this week by Veridica, journalists are calling on their peers who sided with the Putin regime to tell the truth. They describe how war is being presented in schools across Russia and argue that information justifying the Russian aggression in Ukraine was introduced in school curricula a few years back.
The Russian media writes Kyiv alone is to blame for the prolonged conflict in Ukraine. The narrative is used alongside older propaganda messages, according to which Moscow is carrying out a special military operation aimed at protecting civilians, whom Kyiv is using as human shields.
A concentration camp was discovered in the region of Luhansk, where Russian speaking people were tortured, according to a false narrative disseminated by the Russian state media. It presents Russia as a state that, through its “special military operation” in Donbass, freed the local population and chased away “the Nazis” and “the nationalists”.
Russian propaganda continues to seek to justify the invasion of Ukraine and the bombing of civilian targets, including schools and hospitals. According to a recent narrative, a Ukrainian attack on Donbass was imminent, and Kiev was hiding its intentions by deploying troops to schools and hospitals.
Among those, the obsession for imaginary “Nazis”, labeling anyone opposing Kremlin policy “traitors”, and criticism against the so-called LGBTQ “ideology”
The Russian government media published a series of documents designed to prove Ukraine was planning an invasion of Donbas in March. The narrative was launched with a view to justifying Russia’s military operations against Ukraine.
The recognition of the separatist republics in Donbass, which was an intermediate step towards the total invasion of Ukraine, could prove to be one of Putin's biggest mistakes and the beginning of the end for his regime.
The United States does not consider Russia is invading Ukraine by sending troops to the separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, since it didn’t adopt harsher sanctions. This false narrative is promoted by Sorin Roșca Stănescu, a journalist known for being involved in criminal investigations, and whose articles regularly reference narratives similar to those publicized by Russian propaganda.
Russia’s recognition of the two separatist republics has been described by Ukrainian analysts as an action that neutralizes the Minsk protocols, a step towards revitalizing Moscow’s Novorossiya project or merely a publicity stunt Putin has staged for the public at home. Conclusions are grim, marked by fears over Russia’s immediate actions.
The Pro-Kremlin media in Russia and in the self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine have launched a series of false narratives about the destruction of civilian infrastructure in Donbass, which was allegedly staged by Kiev to “justify” its attacks on Russian-speakers.
The West is escalating the situation in Ukraine, the main Kremlin propagandists keep on claiming, while Russia has amassed troops and equipment near its border with that country. The narratives are aimed at making the West responsible for the situation in Ukraine and justifying the Russian aggression.
Amid rising Russian-Ukrainian tensions and accusations against Moscow for surrounding Ukraine militarily, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Ukrainian officials were bound by the Minsk peace deal to negotiate with the separatists in Donbass, and Kiev's counterarguments were termed as propaganda in the style of Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Public Propaganda during the Nazi regime.
Ukraine is planning on massacring the civilian population in Donbas, according to the separatist and Russian state media. This false narrative comes in response to Ukraine’s decision to mobilize its territorial defense forces in the face of a high risk of Russia invading the region.
NATO's refusal to accept Russia's latest demands against the background of the crisis in Ukraine has heightened fears that Moscow is preparing for war. It is a possible scenario, but one that would be extremely costly for Russia, even if it wins the fighting on the ground.
Russia amasses the largest military force on the border with Ukraine since the annexation of Crimea. Alarming information appears in the Romanian press: Romania would go to war with Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova will attack Transnistria, supported by NATO. What is true and what is false?
As a Dutch Court is handling the case of the civilian airline passenger Boeing MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine in 2014, the narratives concerning the incident are resurfacing. This time it is claimed that the aircraft was mistaken for the Russian President’s plane. The Russian media is also highlighting a turn of events that may be soon witnessed as the reports filed by a Russian company were admitted.
The EU and Ukraine reconfirmed their readiness to continue cooperation under the Association Agreement, which was an opportunity for a new disinformation campaign launched by the Russian press against Ukraine and the EU. "A catastrophe that’s been lasting for five years now, in every sphere of life", "a wrong foreign policy choice made by Ukraine" – are some of the reactions in the Russian press. Elements of typical narratives are present, such as: "fake state", "coup d'etat", "Russophobia", "poverty", etc.
Ukraine could face the loss of new territories after the closure of three pro-Russian TV stations, RIA Novosti quotes the former Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili, as saying. The news is fake: Saakashvili never referred to the loss of territories, but merely said Russia could use the ban on the TV stations as a pretext for new acts of aggression.
Authorities in Kiev have banned an edition of Mikhail Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita”, but online media in Russia treated the information as a total ban on this literary work.
The more hybrid our reality gets, the more hybrid warfare becomes. The statement is Russia’s latest informal creed, underlying a disproportionate war waged abroad. For that, the country has been using a “no man’s army”, and its best-known avatar is the Wagner Group.
In late 2020 and early 2021, some news agencies have published a story according to which Ukraine’s potato supplies have run out, and in order to feed its own army Kiev is buying potatoes and potato mash from Russia. The news has deeply confused public opinion. On the one hand, Kiev made it very clear it opposes Russian aggression in Donbass (the Ukrainian Parliament has recognized Russia as an aggressor state), while on the other hand this fake news released by the press portrays Ukraine as incapable of providing the most basic necessities (food!) to its own army.