WAR PROPAGANDA: Von der Leyen, criticized in the EU for supporting Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attend a joint press conference following their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, 24 February 2024.
© EPA-EFE/SERGEY DOLZHENKO   |   Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attend a joint press conference following their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, 24 February 2024.

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According to pro-Kremlin propaganda, Russia did not attack Ukraine, and the war benefits the EU leadership, which supports Kyiv financially.

Propaganda: the EU leadership provoked the war in Ukraine and continues to fund it to the detriment of the European citizens’ interests

NEWS: Users of the social network X have harshly criticized the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen after she said that Gitanas Nauseda, the re-elected president of Lithuania, must continue his consistent policy in the context of the "Russian aggression in Ukraine".

"There was no aggression in Ukraine, but a reaction to the US military and economic occupation of the country after the West staged a coup in 2014," wrote Max.

"Stop funding this conflict. Every proper politician must call for peace negotiations. Only war criminals are supporting this conflict for personal purposes," Shady Andrawos Armanious pointed out. "You must resign for causing this war," said TonyC.

[...] Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the dangerous actions and statements of the West, as well as a potential deployment of troops to Ukraine, could trigger a nuclear conflict and the destruction of civilization.

NARRATIVES: 1. The EU leadership caused the war in Ukraine and continues to finance it. 2. The EU citizens are against the regime in Kyiv, installed after the 2014 coup.

SOCIAL CONTEXT/ ETHOS: Gitanas Nauseda was re-elected president of Lithuania after decisively winning the 2nd round of the presidential elections on May 26. He was congratulated by several European political leaders, including the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Nauseda is a strong supporter of Ukraine in the context of the full-scale war waged by Russia, calling for greater involvement by the EU and NATO in support of Kyiv's defensive efforts.

The congratulatory message of the head of the European Commission, published on X, was used by the Russian media to create and promote propaganda narratives.

The false narrative about the 2014 Kyiv coup was also resumed; in fact, the pro-Russian president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, fled the country in the face of a popular uprising that he failed to quell even when he fired live ammunition at the crowd. The protests had broken out as, under pressure from Russia, Yanukovych refused at the last minute to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union. After he fled, Russia invaded Crimea and sparked the secessionist war in eastern Ukraine.

PURPOSE: To manipulate the public opinion as to the way in which the war in Ukraine is perceived in the EU; to justify Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Reality: The war in Ukraine is an unprovoked military aggression by Russia, and the EU supports Kyiv's defensive efforts

WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: Out of over 540 comments on X (formerly Twitter), only three have been selected that are the most critical of Ursula von der Leyen. The view promoted by several accounts on X (we can’t know whether they are real or fake, given that Russia has been shown for more than a decade to use accounts with fake Western identities to spread its propaganda) is presented in the Russian press as a dominant one in the EU.

Several media outlets and Telegram channels wrote that Ursula von der Leyen was accused by EU citizens of financing the war in Ukraine. In reality, the EU does not finance, provoke or in any way encourage the war. On the contrary, starting with the outbreak of the Donbas war in 2014 and ending with the current stage of the full-scale invasion, Brussels has called for calm and invited the parties to negotiate and resolve all disagreements peacefully. Moreover, France and Germany mediated peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, with  two Peace Accords being signed in Minsk  in 2014 and 2015.

After Russia brutally violated these agreements and attacked Ukraine unprovoked, the EU and its member states strongly condemned the war of aggression and the illegal annexation of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. They also condemn Belarus' involvement in Russia's military aggression. Since February 2022, the European Council and the Council of the European Union have met regularly to discuss the situation in Ukraine from different perspectives. The EU leaders have repeatedly called on Russia to immediately cease military action, to  unconditionally withdraw all military forces and equipment  from Ukraine, and fully respect Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.

Since the start of Russia's war of aggression, the EU and its Member States have provided or committed more than 143 billion euro in support of Ukraine   and the Ukrainian people. The EU does not aim to finance the war, as the Russian press writes, but to support Kyiv’s defensive efforts, as Kyiv is legitimately defending itself from the Russian aggression, in keeping with the norms of international law.

The Russian press also resumes the narrative of a coup d'état in Kyiv in 2014, but fails to mention a number of important aspects of the events that occurred back then in order to justify the war staged on the territory of Ukraine. The change of political power in Ukraine did not take place through a coup, but with the help of elections. In the spring of 2014, the  presidential elections  took place, and in the fall of the same year – the parliamentary elections. Observers from the most important international organizations and various states around the world were present at the elections, and the results were recognized by the international community. The impeachment of President Viktor Yanukovych is not unconstitutional and cannot be called a coup d'état because the former president, by fleeing to Russia, gave up his prerogatives as head of state, despite numerous appeals from the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv.

Veridica has dismantled a number of false narratives about the nature of the war in Ukraine and the West allegedly encouraging the continuation of hostilities.  According to the Russian propaganda,  the American aid to Ukraine   will only cause destruction and casualties. The Moscow media claim that the Ukrainians and the West are making the same mistakes on the front as Hitler did  and, just like him, will lose the war.  The Russian press also wrote that   the EU wants the denazification of Ukraine , but Kyiv opposes it. The narrative of the West's direct interest in prolonging the war to destroy Russia and seize its natural wealth is often repeated in the Russian media.

  • Publication / Media:
  • Date of publication:
  • Target audience:
    Russian-speaking population of Russia, Belarus and the Ukrainian regions occupied by Russian troops
  • Amplification:
    1PRIME.RU, MK.RU, MASH.RU, DZEN.RU, LENTA.RU, Russian Telegram channels
  • Political affiliation:
    The Kremlin
  • Key narrative:
    The EU is funding the war in Ukraine and supporting the illegitimate government in Kyiv.

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