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FAKE NEWS: Ukraine will lose territories for blocking pro-Russian television stations

Donbass
©wikipedia.org   |   Forțe rebele în apropiere de Donețk

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.

NEWS: “Former Georgia president, ex-Governor of the Odessa region, Mikheil Saakashvili, said Ukraine will lose some of its territories after the closure of opposition television stations.

According to Saakashvili, this will not help Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy put a stop to the war in Donbass, but will further escalate the conflict.

“They will take more, let’s not fool ourselves. They will take much more”, Saakashvili told a Ukrainian TV station.

Mariupol and Kherson will eventually go to Russia, Saakashvili argues. He explained that Moscow needs a “bridgehead” in Ukraine to support Crimea in order to supply water and improve logistics in the area [...]

Various Ukrainian politicians, military and activists are regularly commenting on possible new loss of territories.

In July, the former deputy speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Yevheniy Murayev, said Ukraine could lose another eight regions should a new Euromaidan occur. According to Murayev, should further unrest grip the country, the police won’t be able to quell civilian clashes, and neighboring countries will be able to claim territories they believe to be rightfully theirs.

In the same period, Mihheil Saakashvili said the country will be divided due to the actions of local authorities. Saakashvili said forces within the central administration that Zelensky drove away the previous year will return to exact their revenge”.

At the end of 2020, the ex-Governor of the Luhansk and Zekarpattia oblasts, Hennadiy Moskal, admitted Ukraine will lose six regions […]”  

NARRATIVES: 1. Ukraine is an artificial state and will fall apart. 2. Kiev seeks to punish the opposition and independent journalists, and its actions will prompt Russia’s retaliation. 3. Ukraine is closing down television stations to prevent the population from finding the truth about the war in Donbass and the war crimes committed by Ukrainian military.

BACKGROUND: Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, last week ratified a decree banning three opposition TV news stations, claiming they are disseminating Russian propaganda. The stations in questions were perceived as the mouthpiece of pro-Russian party “The Opposition Platform for Life”, one of the financers of these stations is accused of being directly tied to leaders of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Former President of Georgia, ex-Governor of the Odessa region, Mikheil Saakashvili, spoke on the show “Svoboda Slova” on Ukrainian television, saying Zelensky’s decision is fair and brave, but expected Russia to build up its destabilizing efforts in Donbass, arguing that Moscow wants to take control over southern Ukraine. A former governor of Odessa, Saakashvili is often invited on Ukrainian television to compare the situation in Ukraine to the 2008 developments in Georgia, when Russia mobilized forces in this country’s separatists regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Saakashvili was the acting president during the 2008 Russo-Georgian war, and has since been a vocal critic of Moscow and its actions.

PURPOSE: To promote the image of a failing Ukrainian state. The narrative is using the “false state” concept used in hybrid warfare. To prove Ukraine is breaching international law by infringing on freedom of speech in the Russian language, while at the same time invoking international law to plead its case and advocate its sovereignty.

WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: In fact, Saakashvili’s statement is taken out of context and the quote hasn’t been presented in full. The politician said Zelensky’s decision could be used as a pretext for an escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. According to Saakashvili, the Kremlin is facing problems both at home, and with regard to Crimea, especially ensuring regular water supplies. With a view to solving its problems, “Moscow might start preparing an operation to occupy the cities of Kherson and Mariopol”, Saalashvili said. He explained Zelensky made a bold move, an act of self-defense in a hybrid war, but Russia might use it as an opportunity to up its aggression, which means hostilities might break out again in Donbass. Not only Saakashvili didn’t predict any territorial losses, but he also praised Zekensky’s decision to crack down on Russian propaganda on Ukrainian territory. The full interview is available here (in Ukrainian).

GRAIN OF TRUTH: Saakashvili did predict a resurge of hostilities in Donbass, arguing Russia needs Mariupol and Kherson to connect Crimea to the continent. More often than not, Russian media uses such predictions from Ukrainian politicians to reinforce its “false state” narrative used in hybrid warfare. In an interview in late December, 2020, Hennadiy Moskal didn’t rule out the possibility of a Russian attack on other regions in Ukraine. A former governor of the Zekarpattia and Luhansk provinces, Moskal is familiar with the reality on the ground in eastern Ukraine. He pointed out the conflict in Ukraine is boosting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s political numbers. Speaking about the possibility of an escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in the future, Moskal said Putin needs to restore his political endorsement and didn’t exclude the possibility of Russia resorting to military action in order to “bite off additional chunks of Ukrainian territory”. Moskal made no statement as to the “separation” or “self-determination” of the regions of Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk. Nevertheless, the authors here quote Moskal again, building up a “fake reality” and intertwining old narratives with new ones.

Tags: mass-media, Ukraine, Donbass, Russia, war
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  • Publication / Media:
    RIA Novosti, Lenta.ru, Izvestia.ru, Gazeta.ru, Rosbalt.ru, RentTV
  • Date of publication:
    06/02/2021
  • Language / Target audience:
    Readers in Ukraine, Russia, the Republic of Moldova and in the former CIS states
  • Amplification:
    Social networks, TV stations
  • Political affiliation:
    The Kremlin, opposition forces in Ukraine
  • Key narrative:
    Ukraine is an artificial state and will fall apart
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