WAR PROPAGANDA: Russia did not oppose Ukraine's EU rapprochement

Protesters wave a European flag during a pro-European rally on Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, 08 December 2013.
© EPA/ALEXEY FURMAN   |   Protesters wave a European flag during a pro-European rally on Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, 08 December 2013.

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Moscow supported Ukrainian culture and did not oppose Kyiv’s EU rapprochement, while Ukrainians are killing their Russian brothers, being manipulated by the Americans, pro-Kremlin media writes.

Propaganda: Ukrainians are Russians who are manipulated into fighting Russia

NEWS: In the third year of the Special Military Operation, the deep Russian people are wondering how it is possible that their brothers and sisters in Ukraine suddenly become “patriots” of this state and ardent Russophobes, when they are, in fact, Russian? […]

Russia has never opposed Ukrainians’ aspiration to become European. Even now, Moscow is against Kyiv joining NATO. As far as the EU is concerned, it only informs Ukraine that it will find no happiness there […]

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian people actually continued to live in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Only the color of the flag changed [...] The television kept telling people that, once they live in Ukraine, it means they are Ukrainians and they must speak Ukrainian.

Step by step, the Ukrainian people who mocked the banderovists in the past, now became banderovists themselves. The Ukrainian people does not hate the Russians, only the image of a backward-looking aggressor. Suddenly, the Ukrainians found themselves holding machine guns, fighting against their Russian brothers, defending Zelenskyy’s interests […]

Likewise, in the last century, the Germans understood at some point that they were, in fact, anti-fascists. To break this reality to them, we had to defeat the Germans in the war, which they fought more enthusiastically on Hitler’s side, just as Ukrainians are currently fighting on the side of the USA and Zelenskyy.

NARRATIVES: 1. Russia has never opposed Ukraine's EU rapprochement. 2. Ukrainians are Russians manipulated by the media and politicians, and Ukraine and Russia are two states inhabited by Russians. 3. The USSR encouraged the development of Ukrainian identity. 4. Ukrainian servicemen give their lives to defend American or Zelenskyy’s personal interests.

PURPOSE: To justify Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. To deter Ukrainian resistance in the war.

Fact: Ukrainians and Russians are two different peoples, and the Ukrainian military is fighting against the aggression of the Russian Federation, which opposed Kyiv’s EU rapprochement

WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The war in Ukraine is a direct consequence of Russia's opposition to Ukrainians' European integration aspirations. In 2013, Kyiv was supposed to sign the European Union Association Treaty, but the country's leader at the time, Viktor Yanukovych, refused to do so at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, following huge pressure from Vladimir Putin. The Ukrainian people reacted with the Euromaidan movement, which a few months later would lead to the collapse of the Yanukovych regime and the coming to power of pro-Europeans factions. As soon as Ukraine returned to its pro-European trajectory, Russia attacked Ukraine by invading Crimea and stirring separatist insurgencies in Donbass. The EU poses the biggest threat to the Putin regime, because the European political model is one of democratic and prosperous societies, with an independent media and a strong civil society, a model that is incompatible with Putin's authoritarian regime, where the media is controlled by the state and civil society is virtually non-existent. This is, moreover, the reason why Russian propaganda has been conducting a virulent campaign for many years against the so-called (pro-democratic) “color revolutions” and the EU, whom it regards as a place of decadence, at odds with the Orthodox space of Christian, traditional and family values.

Ukrainians are not Russians, and the Ukrainian language differs from Russian. Both peoples have their origins in Kievan Rus, which was a union of East Slavic tribes in the pre-national period. The founder of Ukrainian historiography, Mykhailo Hrushevskyi, wrote in 1903 that Russia and the Russians bear this name unjustly, while in fact they are a people made up of Slavs and Mongols. A century ago, the historian argued that the Ukrainian people is heir to historical Russia centered in Kyiv. Two days before the invasion of the Ukrainian state, on February 24, 2022, the US Embassy in Ukraine posted an image on Facebook showing that Kyiv had churches and cathedrals before the city of Moscow was ever documented.

Over the course of the coming centuries, the foundations of the Ukrainian language and culture were laid on the territory of modern-day Ukraine, while those of the Russian language and culture were built in the northern regions (Novgorod, Moscow, etc.) Most Ukrainians wanted to have an independent state, voting for separation from the USSR in a December 1991 referendum during the period of national emancipation.

The USSR allowed national minorities to preserve their language under the close scrutiny of the authorities. All expressions of Ukrainian identity, unsanctioned by Moscow, were called “banderovist” and deemed dangerous. Russian propaganda overlooks the fact that the Russian Empire and the USSR tried to destroy the autonomous Ukrainian identity. During the Russian Empire, the Ukrainian language was forbidden under the law, and during the Soviet period, the authorities staged an artificial famine, which went down in history as the Holodomor, aimed at destroying the Ukrainian people.

Ukrainian servicemen are not giving their lives to defend US or Zelenskyy's personal interests. The war in Ukraine is one where Ukraine defends itself against large-scale armed aggression, launched in February 2022. Ukrainians’ resistance is based primarily on the will to fight. According to a survey conducted by the International Sociological Institute in Kyiv, 60% of Ukrainians believe that Russia wants to destroy the Ukrainian nation, while a third accuse Moscow of genocide. Ukrainians are primarily driven to defend Ukrainian statehood and the nation in the face of potential annihilation.

There is no connection between the events of World War II and the struggle of Ukrainians to safeguard the future of their country today. Also, the Russian propaganda article ignores one key fact: Ukrainians played a major role in combating Nazism during World War II. Over 9 million Ukrainians died at the time, and Ukrainian territory was the stage of devastating military operations.

Russia has vehemently opposed Ukraine's EU and Western rapprochement. In fact, this is where the Ukrainian crisis started in 2013-2014, when the Kremlin occupied Crimea and supported separatist movements in Donbas to block Kyiv’s European aspirations.

For instance, in 2015, the Russian Foreign Minister accused EU countries of staging a coup in Ukraine. Over the past ten years, Russian propaganda has launched a series of false narratives against Ukraine's European ambitions. After the outbreak of the full-scale war on Ukraine, the EU has repeatedly become the target of Russian propaganda narratives. In October 2023, the Russian media wrote that the EU urges Zelenskyy to concede territories to Russia, and in July it mentioned that Brussels consents to the violation of the rights of Russian speakers in Ukraine.

  • Publication / Media:
  • Date of publication:
  • Target audience:
    The Russian-speaking population in Russia, Belarus and Russian-held territories of Ukraine
  • Amplification:
    DZEN.RU, LENTA.RU, Telegram channels of Russian media outlets
  • Political affiliation:
    The Kremlin
  • Key narrative:
    Russia never opposed Ukraine’s EU rapprochement, while Ukrainians have Nazi roots and fight to defend US interests

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Marin Gherman

Marin Gherman

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