«Kherson Is Part of Russia» and Tsunami in the Steppes of Ukraine. Russian Disinformation Monitoring November 7 – 14, 2022

«Kherson Is Part of Russia» and Tsunami in the Steppes of Ukraine. Russian Disinformation Monitoring November 7 – 14, 2022

23 Листопада 2022

«Kherson Is Part of Russia» and Tsunami in the Steppes of Ukraine. Russian Disinformation Monitoring November 7 – 14, 2022

During the week, the Russian propaganda machine spread fakes and manipulations about the liberation of Kherson and claimed that the power outages in Ukraine are not Russia's fault.
«Kherson Is Part of Russia» and Tsunami in the Steppes of Ukraine. Russian Disinformation Monitoring November 7 – 14, 2022
«Kherson Is Part of Russia» and Tsunami in the Steppes of Ukraine. Russian Disinformation Monitoring November 7 – 14, 2022

Українською текст читайте тут.

Since February 24, Detector Media has been monitoring Ukrainian social media and documenting the chronicle of Russian disinformation around Russia's military offensive in Ukraine on a daily basis. Recently, we also started to make weekly reviews.

During the week of November 6-14, 2022, Detector Media's analysts recorded about fifty disinformation injections spread by Russian propagandists to achieve Russia's political goals. This week, Russian propagandists tried to convince the world that Kherson, which was liberated from occupation by the Ukrainian army, will remain Russian; gave reasons why Ukraine should not join NATO; claimed that Mariupol has always been a Russian city and the Ukrainian language allegedly never existed. 

You can find the reviews of Russian disinformation for the previous weeks here: September 26 October 2; October 3 — 9, October 10 17, October 17 24, October 24 31, October 31 November 6

It was the liberation of Kherson that dominated this week's news. Russia and its propagandists are unable to admit their own defeats and are trying to justify why it happened that Ukraine managed to liberate Kherson. In particular, propagandists assured that Kherson remains part of Russia, despite the fact that the Ukrainian army entered the city. They say that Kherson residents made their choice at the so-called referendum on joining Russia. However, in fact, the Kherson region is part of sovereign Ukraine. The world does not recognize the results of illegal referendums. International law recognizes the Ukrainian borders established in 1991. That is, Ukrainian laws now apply to the Kherson region. 

Russians also spread a fake that all videos from the liberated Kherson were allegedly staged. The propaganda reports claimed that Ukrainian intelligence supposedly coordinated with local volunteers in advance to prepare for the arrival of the Ukrainian army, leading activists to shoot staged videos. Apparently, enslaved Ukrainians are forced to maintain an air of happiness. In reality, the General Staff of the Ukrainian army published a series of videos from the liberated Kherson. The video was created on Friday, November 11 at 3:24 p.m., on the day of the liberation of Kherson, as evidenced by its metadata. That is, a pre-shot video is out of the question. In addition, similar videos were published from the previously liberated Kharkiv region. Back them, Russian propagandists called them fake as well. 

After Kherson was liberated from their army, Russian propagandists not only created stories about a "Russian city", but also attempted to scare the locals with the so-called purges, which will allegedly be carried out by the Ukrainian military. Pro-Russian Telegram channels wrote about this in the context of the liberation of the right-bank part of the Kherson region. According to them, with the arrival of the Ukrainian army, there will be continuous shelling of civilians. Propagandists claimed that "tens of thousands" of residents of the Kherson region who cooperated with the Russians, would soon “meet their ends”. The same intimidation was used by propagandists in September when the Ukrainian army liberated the Kharkiv region from Russian invaders. A similar tactic was employed during the liberation of the Chernihiv and Kyiv regions before that. The Russian propaganda machine thus fuels the narrative that Ukrainians are Nazis, ready to kill their fellow citizens for any cooperation with Russia. Also, by spreading information about "punishers", Russians are trying to hide information about the crimes committed by the Russian army in the temporarily occupied territories. They claim that if people died there, it was at the hands of the Ukrainian army. 

Also this week, propagandists tried to convince Ukrainians that joining NATO was unnecessary. An online video names six reasons why Ukraine and NATO aren't on the same page. In particular, it says that because of Ukraine's accession to NATO, the EU will allegedly be forced to stop the transition to renewable energy, as the money provided for the reform will be used to restore Ukraine instead; as well as that it will pay for NATO's assistance to Ukraine at the expense of public healthcare programs. However, the creator of this video is not the European Security & Defence College, the EU body that provides training in the field of common security, as propagandists claim. The statements spread in the video are also false. Ukraine's accession to NATO and accession to the EU are not closely related. The NATO alliance is not limited to EU countries. Therefore, the creators of the video manipulate cause-and-effect patterns. 

This week, Russian propaganda once again claimed that not only the Ukrainian army but also the troops of other countries, including the United States, are fighting against Russia in Ukraine. There were reports on social media that the U.S. military was already in Ukraine. Social media users also claimed that Joe Biden is "bringing World War III closer" or "risking American lives to launder taxpayer dollars to enrich himself, his family, and his corrupt allies". To be precise, the U.S. military is monitoring the delivery and distribution of weapons in Ukraine.  There is no evidence of the presence of US combat forces in the country, according to Reuters fact-checkers. However, it is convenient for propagandists to say that the Russian army is not fighting with the Ukrainian military, but with the armies of "third countries": Poland, Germany, the United States, or NATO forces. In this way, Russian propagandists justify their own defeats and fuel the narrative that the war with Russia is not really waged by Ukraine, but by the collective West. 

"Russian Mariupol and artificial Ukrainian language"

According to Russian propaganda, Mariupol is an ancient Russian city. This sentiment was promoted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, then endorsed by Russian propaganda media. Putin is convinced that Mariupol is an ancient Russian city. He also claims that the city was founded by Peter the Great, who created his first naval armada there. In fact, in Russian historiography, as a city in the Russian Empire, Mariupol was founded in 1778, already under Catherine the Great. The city was called Pavlovsk back then. However, Kalmius Sloboda existed on this territory before that, the territory controlled by the Zaporizhzhia Cossacks that included the settlement of Domakha and the fortress of Kalmius. The Russian authorities resettled Christians from the Crimea, primarily Greeks, to these territories. Also, the first naval fleet in Mariupol was not built under Peter and not even under Catherine, but only during the Russian Civil War. It is convenient for Putin to spread the notion that Mariupol is a Russian city both now and 100 or 200 years ago as if saying that you can’t argue with history. Thus, propagandists are trying to establish the narrative that Russia is not annexing the territories of Ukraine, but is only returning its historical and legitimate lands.

Propagandists continued to confirm the "Russianness" of Ukraine by spreading fakes that the Ukrainian language does not exist, and everyone on its territory spoke Russian; that Ukrainian is the language of peasants; an artificially created language, etc. Russian propagandists often write that language allegedly does not matter, and that Russian and Ukrainian are the most closely related languages. Allegedly, language does not affect national and cultural identity. However, in reality, language oppression has been Russia's primary weapon against Ukraine for centuries. Ukrainian is an indigenous Slavic language. It has never been artificial, and Ukrainian dialects have never been dialects of Russian. However, propagandists have enough incentive to promote the idea that Ukrainian is artificial and forced, and everyone in Ukraine has long spoken Russian. Such narratives help to promote the concept that Ukraine is not an independent and sovereign state, but a part of Russia, and thus Ukrainians are Russians. Recently, propagandists have already been spreading narratives that Ukrainians are just Russians that went mad. 

This week Russia also made it seem that Ukraine does not hold a lot of importance to the world. In particular, by spreading fakes that grain exports from Ukraine do not affect the overall food situation in the world. They claim that the importance of Ukrainian grain on the global market is exaggerated, because the share of Ukrainian grain exports in global consumption is insignificant, and it cannot seriously affect prices. On the contrary, the halt in grain shipments due to the blockade of Ukrainian ports by Russia caused a rapid increase in grain prices. By mid-May, export prices for wheat and corn reached unprecedented heights. Prices decreased after the signing of the grain agreement between Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, and the UN. Russian propaganda is trying to use this issue of Ukrainian grain exports on the world market to put pressure on the international community. However, the problems with the delivery are due to Russia, because it started the war in Ukraine and thus precipitated a food crisis. 

Many propagandists manipulated the topic of power cuts in Ukraine this week, which were caused by Russian missile attacks on energy production facilities. Social media users claimed that the power cuts in Ukraine, which had to be introduced as a result of Russian missile attacks on energy facilities, were unjustified. Allegedly, private entrepreneurs receive "excessive profits" and therefore cut off people's electricity at will. However, according to the data of DTEK, the largest energy company in Ukraine, obtained by NotyYenota fact-checking project, the power outages are caused by the issues with the distribution of electricity, not its production. "There were minor damages at some thermal power plants, which were quickly fixed. The same amount of electricity is produced as before the massive shelling of infrastructure, but it is difficult to transfer it for consumption. The terrorist actions of Russia damaged critical facilities for transmitting electricity from production plants to consumers," the statement said. Russia is to blame for the need to implement power outages in Ukraine, as it has repeatedly carried out massive missile attacks on energy infrastructure facilities. Russia deliberately targets energy facilities to, as propagandists claim, "return Ukraine to the Middle Ages". But Russians are trying to justify their actions and place the blame on Ukraine. They claim that the Ukraine’s leadership decided to implement power cuts to consumers so that private companies could profit, rather than because of Russia's foul play.

Another Kremlin fabrication that Russia spread this week was the news about "Russia's capture by Germany". Allegedly, Berlin is preparing to "make money" on the gas pipelines of the Russian transnational company Gazprom for the delivery of fuel from its liquefied natural gas terminals. Allegedly, according to experts, the German authorities are most likely planning to capture Russia in this manner. Propagandists are trying to say that Germans are trying to capture the "Rus" of the distant past. In reality though, this is an unfounded claim made by pro-Kremlin media, which was called out by analysts of the EU vs Disinfo project. According to them, this narrative emerged in response to news about the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline explosions. However, there are no facts or evidence to support the claim that Germany wants to capture Russia. The explosions on both gas pipelines did happen, but there is no evidence that Germany is responsible for them, let alone that it could be a step toward the capture of Russia. There has been no shortage of claims by propagandists stating that Russia is threatened by certain states, without providing any rationale. In particular, Russia justifies the attack on Ukraine with the so-called threat from Ukraine. In the opinion of the Russian government, Ukraine would have attacked first had they not started the war.

In addition to Germany, Russia has accused the United States as well this week. This time, for an intention to trigger a natural disaster in Ukraine. For example, a tsunami. Russian propagandists claimed that the United States wants to get rid of the Ukrainian leadership and hence wants to create an artificial tsunami. This will cause the Ukrainian leadership to capitulate, they believe. 

According to EU vs Disinfo fact-checkers, there is no evidence to prove that the U.S. is preparing deadly provocations against Ukraine. As a matter of fact, especially in light of Russia's accusations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb, diplomats from France, the United Kingdom, and the United States consider Russia's false claims to be a ruse devised by Moscow in an effort to escalate the war. That is, the entire international community is watching: even if such a provocation was being prepared, Western countries would have raised the alarm. Furthermore, seismic activity (the phenomenon that causes tsunamis, such as an underwater earthquake) is being monitored in the oceans and seas, and a tsunami in Ukraine cannot be induced artificially. 

Also this week, Russia made a flurry of accusations against NATO. For instance, Russian propaganda media, citing a fake letter purported to be from the Minister of Health of Ukraine Viktor Liashko, claimed that NATO had provided Ukraine with contaminated donor blood that was being administered to wounded soldiers. The fact that the letter from the Minister is fake is apparent from its appearance: it does not meet the requirements for official documents in Ukraine. The Ministry also reported that since the war began, Ukraine has never appealed to foreign partners for donated blood or its components. From the first day of the war, Ukrainians have been reliably holding the “blood donor home front”. Using fakes like these, propagandists aim to undermine Ukrainian authorities, claiming that they cannot supply the soldiers with everything they need.

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