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FAKE NEWS: The Ukrainian army might rid Donbass and Crimea of Russian-speakers

Trident
©EPA-EFE/MYKOLA TYS  |   Ukrainian soldiers ride an APC during the Rapid Trident - 2020 military exercises on the Yavoriv training ground, near the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, Ukraine, 24 September 2020.

In the context of the “Rapid Trident 2021” military exercise taking place in Ukraine, with the participation of NATO member states, the Russian state media has reiterated some of its false narratives about Kiev’s Russophobic policies, about Ukraine being a colony of the West and about the war in Donbass, which allegedly favors NATO member states.

NEWS: “Washington and Kiev are preparing coalition operations against “the aggressor state” – with shooting practice, paratrooper landing simulations and drone attacks at the Yavoriv training grounds. […] The provocative maneuvers carried out as part of Rapid Trident 2021 risk destabilizing, first and foremost, neighboring European states and even Ukraine, which might share the fate of war-ravaged Afghanistan.

[…]

The Ukrainian leadership acknowledges the possibility of a military conflict in Eastern Europe, with the participation of “NATO multinational forces” under Washington’s guidance. Kiev probably strongly believes in a second Crimean war, without taking into account the present-day reality and the new generation of weapons.

Ukrainian territory is used to “advance the presence” of foreign troops closer to Russian borders. At the same time, Western partners are in no hurry to lay down the preliminary terms of Ukraine’s NATO accession. In fact, the country is being colonized and turned into an area of US military intervention.

[…]

Let us consider not just the level of training, but the level of servitude of Ukrainian troops, who are now sitting their exams before “NATO examiners”, who recently got their asses kicked by the Taliban, suffering their most humiliating military defeat in Afghanistan”.

[…]

The United States is ready to earmark 60 million dollars per year to the Ukrainian army. It’s enough to “kindle” the conflict in in Donbass […]

In a recent interview, the secretary of Ukraine’s Security and National Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, urged the country’s Western partners to undertake “active actions” on the anti-Russian front, claiming that the Ukrainian army is capable of ridding the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as Crimea, of the local population - millions of Russian citizens. Such incentives and scenarios are extremely dangerous for Europe […]”, Sputnik.md writes in an editorial titled “The Rapid Trident 2021 Ukrainian-American exercise risks destabilizing Europe”.

NARRATIVES: 1. Ukraine is turning into a US colony and might rid Donbass and Crimea of Russian-speakers via military action. 2. NATO’s military exercises in Ukraine will destabilize Europe.

BACKGROUND: On September 20, 2021, Ukraine started a series of military exercises jointly with the United States and other NATO countries, at a time when Russia and Belarus were carrying out large-scale military exercises that raised concern in the West. The Rapid Trident 2021 military exercises will take place in western Ukraine until October 1, involving 4,000 Ukrainian and 2,000 NATO military. These exercises, like many before them in recent years, are aimed at bringing Ukraine closer to NATO in formal terms and provide military know-how to the Ukrainian army, which has been fighting Russian-funded separatists and mercenaries in Donbass since 2014. Furthermore, in 2014 the Crimean Peninsula was annexed, an action condemned by the international community, which prompted the EU and the United States to pass economic sanctions against various Russian entities.

The Ukrainian leadership has repeatedly stated it wants closer ties with NATO, hoping to join the Alliance in order to solve its security problems caused by Moscow’s actions. In reality, the exercise in Ukraine follows Moscow’s large-scale military maneuvers close to the NATO and EU border.

On the other hand, in June, Ukraine, the USA and other allied states hosted the “Sea Breeze” naval exercise in the Black Sea, despite Russia’s pleas to have it cancelled. Against the backdrop of this demonstration of force and operative response capacity, the Russian state media has again promoted false narratives about Kiev’s Russophobic policies, about Ukraine being a colony of the West and about the war in Donbass, which allegedly favors NATO. Ukraine is depicted as a colony under US control, and the statements of Ukrainian officials are misquoted for the Russian readership, in order to sow distrust in the West and fear against Ukraine in territories outside Kiev’s control.

PURPOSE: The purpose of these narratives is to persuade public opinion that Ukraine’s policies are Russophobic and driven by the West, and that NATO military exercises are targeting Russia.

WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: In fact, the military exercise hosted by NATO in partnership with Ukraine is not meant to destabilize Europe, and the comparison with Afghanistan isn’t grounded on any valid argument and is completely unsound. In 2020, Ukraine became an Enhanced Opportunities Partner (EOP), having signed bilateral agreements for exchanging expertise and best practices with Ukraine, securing NATO support for the Ukrainian army in the context of the hybrid war facing Kiev. In fact, NATO uses this exercise to convey a symbolic message to Kremlin, showing that it is monitoring developments on its eastern flank. The exercise is aimed at deterring Russia’s warmongering after in February this year, Russia built up a considerable force on the Ukrainian border and in Crimea.

The narrative about the West craftily fueling the conflict in Donbass is also inconsistent with the truth. As Veridica has previously showed, a conflict in Donbass is neither in Ukraine’s best interests, nor the West’s. Any conflict is slowing down economic growth, blocking the free flow of goods, capital and workforce, which cannot possibly favor any country. The EU, NATO and the USA have condemned Russia’s destabilizing actions in eastern Ukraine and Crimea and have conveyed peace-making messages. The West never encouraged the conflict. On the contrary, by means of imposing sanctions against Russia and creating negotiating formats, such as the Minsk platform, it tried to solve the conflict via diplomatic and political dialogue.  

The West’s interest is to bring peace and lift all the sanctions that are blocking several vistas for cooperation between Western and Russian economic entities.

The article published by Sputnik.md also contains an obvious attempt at manipulation, designed to underscore Kiev’s “Russophobic attitude”. The statements of Ukraine’s Security and National Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, are taken out of context, and at the same time other statements are wrongfully attributed to him. Danilov never said that the Ukrainian army is capable to ridding the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as Crimea, of the local population – millions of Russian citizens, but actually said, quoted by Radio Svoboda: “Our armed forces can liberate the territory of the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. We can also fight for Crimea. But we need to take into account the fact that we cannot afford to get tens or even hundreds of thousands of our people killed during these military operations”. Danilov’s statement actually shows that Kiev doesn’t want any victims, civilian or military. Sputnik also writes that Kiev “strongly believes in a second Crimean war”, which isn’t actually supported by any official statement.

The narrative about the “2014 coup” is again brought to the fore. In fact, the coup never took place, given that the then president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled to Russia in the wake of a people’s uprising which he tried to repress with force. Yanukovych’s forces used military-spec ammo against the population. The anti-Yanukovych protests broke out after the president gave in to Russia’s pressures and refused to sign the Association Agreement with the EU. The term “coup” is used to describe the current Ukrainian authorities as illegitimate and purportedly employed by the West to weaken Russia.


  • Publication / Media:
    sputnik.md
  • Date of publication:
    21/09/2021
  • Language / Target audience:
    The Russian-speaking population in ex-Soviet space, Romanian-language readers and other readers of the Sputnik media group
  • Amplification:
    Social media
  • Political affiliation:
    The Kremlin
  • Key narrative:
    Ukraine is turning into a US colony and could rid Donbass and Crimea of Russian-speakers via military action
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  • In the context of the “Rapid Trident 2021” military exercise taking place in Ukraine, with the participation of NATO member states, the Russian state media has reiterated some of its false narratives about Kiev’s Russophobic policies, about Ukraine being a colony of the West and about the war in Donbass, which allegedly favors NATO member states.
  • PURPOSE: The purpose of these narratives is to persuade public opinion that Ukraine’s policies are Russophobic and driven by the West, and that NATO military exercises are targeting Russia.
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