The chess rivalry between Russia and Ukraine existed before the invasion of February 2022. It also existed before the first invasion of Russia in February 2014. It existed, one might say, before the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991. But it has never been harsher than this year. The world of chess has once again become, as it was during the Cold War, a battleground for image, influence and power.
For more than a month, Serbia has been the target of mass bomb threats. Pro-government tabloids and some high-ranking officials claim that the campaign has behind it the West and is connected to Belgrade’s reluctance to impose sanctions on Russia, while offering no proof for the allegations. However, Russia, or Serbia’s own intelligence services may as well be interested to launch such a campaign.
The war in Ukraine has sparked a great of deal of concern in the Republic of Moldova, where the people have seen just how vulnerable the country is in case of a Russian attack. Neglected for years due to underfunding, incompetence or for the sake of “neutrality”, the army seems underprepared to efficiently defend the country. The West is trying to lend a helping hand and has promised to deliver military equipment.
Kyiv has allowed 10,000 troops from Poland and Lithuania to enter its territory. The forces are expected to “occupy” and “plunder” Ukraine, the Russian media writes in a new false narrative about the occupation of Western Ukraine by Russia. The fake news is part of broader metanarratives concerning the West’s involvement in the war and the artificial character of the Ukrainian state, which makes it unstable.
Putin has announced the start of World War III and will use nuclear weapons because, due to the West’s involvement, its forces cannot win the war. The narrative is promoted by Sorin Roșca Stănescu, who was given a criminal sentence and who is known for his opinions that very much resemble Russian propaganda. The Kremlin has long promoted the possible start of nuclear warfare, in order to determine the West to withdraw its support for Ukraine.
The leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church have been sentenced to death on the territory of Ukraine. Spread by the Russian media, this propaganda narrative misquotes a decision issued by the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
Outside Russia, Moscow’s representatives and supporters tried to mark Victory Day in ex-Soviet and ex-communist countries, but in most cases, their actions were overshadowed by protest actions against Russia’s acts of aggression or demonstrations of solidarity with Ukraine. Veridica’s contributors in ex-Soviet and ex-communist states have closely followed May 9 celebrations.
The Russian media has reverted to the narrative regarding Poland’s intention to occupy part of Ukraine, this time focusing on the statements of president Andrzej Duda, which it took out of context and interpreted in a different key.
Tens of thousands of people have left Russia in the last three months due to oppression, condemning the aggression in Ukraine. Many have stayed however, continuing to oppose the establishment and to take part in anti-war actions. A large number of journalists, activists and human rights militants have no intention of letting up, despite the repressive legislation and the risk of facing criminal punishments. Veridica has selected a number of topics from the top independent sources in Russia.
Ukrainian soldiers practice satanic rituals invoking dark forces to help them in battle, according to the Russian news agency Ria Novosti. The story aims to demonize the opponent, the Ukrainian army.
Having joined Ukrainian fighters with the “Azov” battalion, Israeli mercenaries have arrived in Ukraine to fight Russia. The false narrative was launched by the spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Affairs herself, being picked up by a number of Russian state media agencies.
May 9 will be different than usual: celebrating it could be seen as a celebration of Russia’s aggression. While waiting for the events in Moscow and elsewhere to unfold, Veridica has set out to find out what May 9 may still mean in the former USSR and ex-communist countries, as reported by its correspondents in those countries.
Romania, Poland, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova will jointly attack the separatist region of Transnistria, according to disinformation narratives carried by the Romania media. The disinformation was published in Romania in a version that contains a number of false information, which is a typical example of Russian propaganda.
As May 9 draws closer, the day when Russia and other ex-Soviet countries celebrate the victory against Nazi Germany, the number of incidents impacting Moldova’s weak spots increases. In Găgăuzia or Bălți, there are voices calling for breaching the law banning the symbols associated with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Several unclaimed “attacks” have taken place in Transnistria.
Crimean Tatars support Russia’s war against Ukraine, which the Kremlin has dubbed “a special military operation”, reads a false narrative disseminated by Russian state media. In fact, Tatars have opposed Russian aggression ever since 2014, when Moscow occupied and captured Crimea.
The Russian independent media continue to report on the war in Ukraine and its impact on the people of Russia, on the Russian soldiers who have disappeared during the invasion and the families that are looking for them, on young people who are forced to sign contracts to fight in the war, or on Russian citizens protesting against the aggression, even if they risk their freedom and their lives.
A convoy of Romanian military technology was caught on camera while moving towards with borders with the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, the Russian media writes, referring to a video captured by an amateur with his mobile phone. The footage, used as part of other disinformation narratives as well, serves as an excuse to reiterate the fake news about Romania’s plans to occupy the Republic of Moldova and to attack the Transnistrian separatist region.
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.
Western states and Ukraine have staged terrorist acts in Transnistria in order to push Moldova into NATO and capture the ammunition stored in the region from the days of the Soviet Union, the Russian media writes. These false narratives are used alongside an older metanarrative about the West’s responsibility for the war in Ukraine.
Poland will capture its “historical provinces” in Ukraine, taking advantage of Ukraine’s position of weakness, the head of Russia’s foreign intelligence, Sergey Naryshkin says. Amplified by the Russian media, the narrative lacks any substance and is disproved by the actions and declarations of Poland in support of Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity.
PM Kiril Petkov faces numerous challenges in his desire to send military aid to Ukraine including severing his relationship with the man who introduced him into politics, President Radev. On top of that, Russia cut Bulgaria’s gas supply, adding to the challenges faced by the government.
A Russian general recently referred to Transnistria as one of the objectives of the second phase of the war in Ukraine. Will Russia stop in Transnistria, or will it actually reach Chișinău, which is literally a stone’s throw away? And what should Romania do if that happens? 1940 is the year on everyone’s lips these days…
The Russian media writes about the meeting president Vladimir Putin had with UN Secretary General, António Guterres, describing it as a major win for Moscow at international level. According to false narratives published by Kremlin-linked news agencies, Putin convinced Guterres that the Nazis in Ukraine have committed war crimes and that Russia’s “special military operation” abides by UN principles.
Andrey Kurkov is one of the most important contemporary Ukrainian writers. He writes in Russian, but has been described as an "enemy of Russian culture." In an interview with Veridica, Andrey Kurkov spoke about Russia's return to the monarchy under "Tsar" Vladimir Putin, the decoupling - at least temporarily - from Russian culture, but also about Moscow's war against his country.
Ukraine used chemical and biological munition fired by drones, the Russian Ministry of Defense claims, without providing any evidence in this respect. The false narrative was picked up by the Russian media, which is involved in an effort designed to secure public support for the so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Veridica has selected stories about how war lies are fabricated, how the words Ukraine and Kyiv have been removed from textbooks, and what journalism students are learning in the country's new political context.
The inhabitants of regions in southern Ukraine are calling for the unification with Russia, after being liberated from the occupation of Ukrainian nationalists, the Russian media writes. The narrative is not based on any research and is part of Russia’s wider war propaganda.
More and more international observers wonder if Turkish leaders, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in particular, are truly capable of implementing a change. There are some signs indicating this might be possible, although the more knowledgeable pundits remain sceptic, claiming that a return to the reformist agenda of the early years of the government’s mandate (2002-2009) is impossible.
Ukraine's military intelligence service, along with the United States, has tried to trick Romania into sending special forces to Kherson, near Crimea, to be attacked by the Russians. The story was launched in Bucharest.
The Russian media writes that Ukraine is responsible for the hundreds of civilians found dead in Bucha, and in order to cover up these crimes, Kyiv has called on French gendarmes for help. In fact, French specialists only arrived in Ukraine to examine and collect evidence of the war crimes committed by Russia.
There is now a great deal of coagulation in Ukraine over the national idea, and Ukrainians quickly understood, from the earliest days of the Russian invasion, that they have to either fight or be killed, says Nadija Afanasieva, director of the Ukrainian Institute for International Politics in Kyiv. In an interview with Veridica, the international relations expert explained what Vladimir Putin actually meant when he said that Russia had “noble intentions”, but also what the role of the Transnistrian region in the economy of this war is.
Russia claims Ukraine bombed targets on its territory. The lack of any strategic importance of these targets, as well as the similarities with disinformation narratives launched in the past by Russian propaganda, suggest however that Moscow is looking for new excuses to intensify its bombings in Ukraine.