RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION AND PROPAGANDA
DIGEST COUNTERING RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION AND PROPAGANDA As of 1 September 2022.
Kremlin propaganda continues attempts to discredit Western military aid to Ukraine.
In this context, some Russian media, referring to some anonymous “source” of propagandists, have spread the news that the Pentagon is allegedly recruiting Afghan pilots who escaped from the Taliban to be trained in California, and after that “it is planned to transfer them through Poland to Ukraine”.
In particular, news agency RIA “Novosti” stated that “Afghans are offered to be trained and contracted for service in the war zone. The Pentagon, as we know, has been recruiting for Ukraine former Afghan combat trainer pilots who fled to the United States a year ago with the Americans”.
Ukraine and the United States do not hide plans to train Ukrainian military pilots on Western-made aircraft. This information is public, and preparation costs are already included in the US budget for the next fiscal year.
The Ministry of Defenсe of Ukraine reported that “the US government has decided at the legislative level to allocate $ 100 million for 2023 to train Ukrainian pilots on Western aircraft”.
According to Defense Express, the basic F-16 pilot training course lasts nine months.
In fact, only citizens of Ukraine who have undergone appropriate training and received the military rank, can be pilots of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The citizens of Afghanistan, whom the Kremlin’s propagandists say “the Pentagon trains in California for Ukraine”, do not quite meet these criteria – after all, they are not citizens of Ukraine, not officers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and have not been trained to fly aircraft in service with Ukraine.
Russian propaganda continues to publish disinformation about Ukrainian nuclear power plants, intimidating the world with “a nuclear catastrophe caused by Ukraine”.
In another apocalyptic material, the Kremlin “experts” report that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, seized by the Kremlin, “requires not just a major overhaul, but the urgent intervention of Russian power engineers”. It is reported that the Zaporizhzhia NPP is “on the verge of functioning”, because the life of nuclear power units “came out back in 2015-2018 and the continued operation of rusty equipment threatens with a catastrophe”.
Russian claims that the ZNPP is in a “catastrophic state” and that it “expired in 2015” are misinformation without any basis. Ukraine, under the supervision of leading international experts, since 2016 has successfully modernized 5 out of 6 power units of the ZNPP, extending the life of each facility by an average of 10 years.
In addition, following the results of 2021, ZNPP completed the stage of complete transition of 4 out of 6 units to nuclear fuel from an alternative supplier – Westinghouse. Ukraine’s nuclear fuel diversification campaign has always been subject to massive disinformation attacks from Russia, which strongly opposes Ukrainian energy independence. This case was no exception, and the Kremlin attacked the arrival of Americans at the ZNPP with a flurry of misinformation.
The practice of extending the life of nuclear power units is widespread throughout the world, and Ukraine is not a pioneer in this case. A number of European countries, the United States, Canada, and Russia itself have experience in extending the service life of nuclear power units. However, Russian propaganda continues to spread “catastrophic” fakes about Ukrainian “old” power units.
It should be noted that Ukraine has always been open to international experts in the field of nuclear energy. At the ZNPP, as well as at other Ukrainian nuclear power plants, IAEA specialists regularly carried out inspections. The International Agency has repeatedly organized various events in Ukraine aimed at promoting leadership, safety management and safety culture in nuclear facilities and regulatory bodies, including missions of experts on leadership and safety management to the ZNPP. All international inspections of Ukrainian nuclear facilities were successful.
Russian propaganda regularly tries to accuse the Ukrainian military of violating the rules of war.
In particular, the Kremlin media wrote that “the Pentagon accused Ukraine of shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant”. Anonymous Telegram channels are spreading this message as fact and without reference to the US Department of Defence. The manipulative news is based on the speeches of representatives of the Pentagon at a press briefing on August 29, which was mostly devoted to the nuclear power plant security issue.
As StopFake writes, in the comments, American representatives noted that the Russian Federation was firing provocatively from the territory of the plant. At the same time, a statement was made about the probability of a Ukrainian retaliatory strike, though not on the territory of the plant, but on the enemy’s positions.
Manipulation consists in passing off an assumption as a fact, as well as reformulating it into a beneficial message.
It should be reminded that on March 4, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe was captured by the Russian military, and since then military equipment and ammunition have been stationed there, and the surrounding area has been shelled from its site. On August 26, the state energy enterprise Energoatom confirmed that the ZNPP is again producing electricity for Ukraine’s needs after the plant’s first complete disconnection from the power grid.
In turn, the national power company Ukrenergo announced that it restored the operation of two trunk lines damaged by Russian troops, which ensured the operation of the plant.
Kremlin propaganda continues to distort real information on the progress of the war against Ukraine.
In this context, the Kremlin media actively disseminates thesis that “the counteroffensive of the Ukrainian army in the south of Ukraine can be considered a failure”. Allegedly, “the attempt of a counteroffensive launched by the Armed Forces of Ukraine failed instantly, and the Ukrainian army is incapable of anything”.
In such reports, Ukraine is called “a helpless puppet of the West”, which allegedly prompted the launch of a counteroffensive. As analysts of the Institute for the Study of War report, the Russian Ministry of Defence began an information operation to present Ukraine’s counteroffensive as a decisive failure almost immediately after it was announced on August 29. According to the ISW, several prominent military bloggers – even those critical of the Kremlin – are pushing that message.
The ISW also reports that there are those who spread the message that the “Western curators of Ukraine pushed Ukraine to launch a counteroffensive prematurely” and/or too late for “political” reasons.
In fact, it is too early to talk about the results of the counteroffensive – whether it was successful or not. Military operations on the scale of this counteroffensive do not fail in a day or a week. As the ISW adds, Ukrainian officials have long recognized that they do not have a sufficient mass of mechanized forces, which would be necessary to carry out a blitzkrieg attack to destroy Russian defences in the Kherson region or anywhere else. Instead, they set the conditions for months by attacking and destroying Russian ground lines of communication, command and control, and logistics systems throughout the southwestern part of occupied Ukraine.
Instead, it is beneficial for Russia to say that Ukraine’s counteroffensive is failing in order to create the appearance of its strength and invincibility, showing the Ukrainian army as weak and incapable of breaking through the Russian defence.
Government Office for Coordination of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine.
02-09-2022 [Writer Irina Mirochnik is the President at IMMER Group & Doctor of Philosophy in Law(PhD)]
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