DIGEST COUNTERING RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION AND PROPAGANDA As of 16 July 2022!
Russian propaganda is trying to discredit Western weapons provided to Ukraine by its partners.
Pro-Russian social networks disseminated information about possible deployment of the US Patriot SAM systems in the territory of Ukraine in order to protect Ukrainian airspace. They said that it means that “Ukraine is relinquishing part of its sovereignty due to the deployment of foreign troops”. In addition, such reports claim that these systems are allegedly not effective, “because they did not save Saudi Arabia from missiles and drones”. But it is not so.
In fact, there are two options for the use of Patriot systems in Ukraine: deploy US military units on the territory of Ukraine and train the Ukrainian military to use Patriot and transfer these systems to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In both cases, this does not contradict the principle of sovereignty and independence of Ukraine in both domestic and foreign policy.
Ukrainian legislation allows the deployment of foreign military units on the territory of Ukraine in cases of repelling aggression or under the terms of a previous agreement on the temporary deployment of foreign military units on its own territory. A violation of sovereignty would be the forced deployment of a foreign army without prior agreement on this issue with Ukraine. However, this is not the case.
As for Saudi Arabia’s experience, it did have 108 Patriot systems as of 2019, when two oil facilities were hit by drones and cruise missiles launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. But first, no air defence system provides 100% protection against air attacks. Second, it is not known whether Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities were protected by Patriot systems. As VoxCheck writes, there are many successful examples of Patriot use: they have shot down air targets in Iraq and Israel, as well as recorded cases of interception of enemy targets in Saudi Arabia during the Yemen war since 2015.
By spreading such fakes, Russian propaganda tries to discredit the effectiveness of any Western weapons provided to Ukraine. Fact-checkers have already refuted Russian fakes regarding the Turkish Bayraktar drones, the American HIMARS MLRS systems, the French Caesar self-propelled howitzers, etc.
Kremlin propaganda tries to hide defeats of the Russian military during the so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine.
On the night of July 11 to 12, the Armed Forces of Ukraine attacked the ammunition depot in the temporarily occupied city of Nova Kakhovka, Kherson region. Russian propaganda faced a difficult choice – how to explain another destroyed depot of ammunition to its audience?
In order to hide the defeat of the Russian military, Kremlin propaganda spread numerous versions of the event, one more tragic than the other. On the one hand, to divert attention from the large losses in the Russian army, on the other hand, to use this strike as “proof” that Ukraine is allegedly “hitting its own citizens”, because if they hit temporarily occupied territories, they consider them already hostile, lost forever.
In order to “consolidate” this narrative, Moscow even began to declare the need to convene a meeting of the UN Security Council “due to the shelling of Novaya Kakhovka by the Armed Forces of Ukraine”, and called this event “an act of military terror”.
The Kremlin did not provide a single explanation of what actually happened in Nova Kakhovka. Therefore, the Russian media offered their numerous versions of the event in advance, adding dramatic details.
According to newspaper “Izvestia”, “one of the rockets hit the mineral fertilizer warehouse”. In addition, according to local collaborators, the Armed Forces “fired” at the market and residential buildings.
Many other media wrote that “the city’s saltpeter warehouse exploded due to the impact of the projectile, and the city’s infrastructure was badly damaged”. Also, it was reported that “a warehouse with 35 tons of food completely burned down”. “Russkaya Vesna” and other media wrote that the “humanitarian aid center” was also hit, and that they allegedly planned to feed the entire city there.
In order to avoid drawing attention to what actually exploded a few days after the attack, Russian propaganda reported on the scale of the strike consequences, increasing the numbers every day. In particular, TASS Agency reported that “65 houses, three factories and almost 250 shops” were damaged. Other Russian media reported about damaged hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure.
At the same time, Serhii Khlan, advisor to the head of the Kherson regional military administration, reported that on July 11, ammunition depot was destroyed in Nova Kakhovka. The Operational Command “South” of the Armed Forces of Ukraine also announced the destruction of the depot.
Local media, referring to social networks, reported that the ammunition depot had a large fleet of vehicles, fuel trucks, as well as about 200 rockets for the Smerch MLRS. Because of this, the detonation after the impact was heard the next day as well. It is also confirmed that many houses and shops near the depot were damaged due to the explosions.
The propagandists’ claims that the saltpeter warehouse was affected do not find any confirmation. A Google search shows that businesses that sell similar fertilizers are located at other addresses. Local residents also did not confirm the presence of a warehouse with fertilizers or a warehouse with humanitarian aid. Google maps show that there were service stations, various shops and auto repair shops where the impact took place.
The detonation of ammunition the next day also does not confirm the statement of the Russian propaganda that there were fertilizers there instead of weapons.
Russian propaganda continues its attempts to involve Belarusian troops in direct hostilities with the Ukrainian military.
In this context, Russian and Belarusian mass media disseminated information that “Ukraine is preparing to attack Belarus”. In particular, propagandists mention “the Volga 1 missile warning system station as one of the priority targets” among the objects allegedly to be struck.
In fact, it is not true. The information was denied by the Public Affairs Service of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.
Its representative stated that “such publications are completely untrue, and the Armed Forces of Ukraine continue to protect our state from the occupiers, strictly complying with the norms of international law”.
It should be noted that such messages are being spread by Russian authorities and propaganda with the aim of dragging Belarus into a war against Ukraine and concealing the war crimes that the Russian occupiers have committed and continue to commit on the territory of Ukraine.
[Writer Irina Mirochnik is the President at IMMER Group & Doctor of Philosophy in Law(PhD)]
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