Disinfo: EU imposed sanctions after MH17 was shot down, but provided no evidence of Russia's liability

Summary

The EU imposed sanctions for the first time after the MH17 passenger plane was shot down over Ukraine in July 2014 (without providing any evidence of Russia’s liability). The boycott is aimed at Russian state-owned banks, arms import and export, and the oil and gas industry.

Disproof

This is a disinformation claim about the downing of Flight MH17, for which Russia is responsible according to the international investigation, and misrepresents the history and causes of the EU’s sanctions on Russia. The first EU sanctions against Russia were introduced on 17 March 2014, before MH17 was shot down. The first bans and asset freezes against persons involved in actions against Ukraine's territorial integrity followed Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea. Later, in view of Russia's actions destabilising the situation in eastern Ukraine, the EU imposed economic sanctions in July 2014 and reinforced them in September 2014. In March 2015, the European Council linked the duration of those economic restrictions to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements. The Dutch-led criminal investigation by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has been ongoing since 2014. The results of the investigation of the Joint Investigation Team are clear: flight MH17 was shot down by a missile from the 9M38 series, which was launched by the BUK TELAR system. The system was transported from the Russian Federation to an agricultural field near the city of Pervomaiskiy in eastern Ukraine, from where the rocket was launched. After firing, the system with one missing missile returned to the Russian Federation. On May 24 2018, JIT announced in its conclusion that the Buk belongs to the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, a unit of the Russian armed forces in Kursk, Russian Federation. The public hearing of the criminal trial over the downing of the flight MH17 started on 9 March 2020 in the Netherlands. On the basis of the investigation conducted by the JIT, consisting of law enforcement agencies from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, Ukraine and the Netherlands, the Dutch Public Persecution service is prosecuting Igor Vsevolodovich Girkin, Sergey Nikolayevich Dubinskiy, Oleg Yuldashevich Pulatov and Leonid Volodymyrovych Kharchenko for causing the MH17 crash and murdering the 298 persons on board. The Public Prosecution Service alleges that the four individuals cooperated to obtain and deploy the BUK TELAR at the firing location with the aim of shooting down an aircraft. For that reason, they can also be held jointly accountable for downing of flight MH17. You can find other examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation on the MH17 case in our database, such as claims that JIT tampered with the evidence; that the plane was not downed by a BUK missile, but rather by a Ukrainian fighter; that the plane crash was triggered by an explosion on board; that the trial in The Hague is not justice but information warfare; that the irrefutable evidence of Russia’s innocence is being rejected; or that both the MH17 and the Skripal cases are anti-Russian provocations.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 203
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 27/06/2020
  • Outlet language(s) German
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: EU, Malaysia, The Netherlands, Ukraine, Russia
  • Keywords: Sanctions, MH17
see more

Disinfo: Ukraine does not exist as a state, it is a colony of the US Democratic Party

Ukraine does not exist today. It is a colony of the US Democratic Party. Therefore, Ukrainians’ opinions do not interest anyone at all.

Disproof

No evidence is given. Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine, which is often claimed to be under external control from the US, NATO, the EU, or IMF. Ukraine is a sovereign state. The US or its political leaders, either from the Democratic or the Republican party, do not control Ukraine. Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are respected by most of the free world, confirmed by the resolutions of the United Nations, but violated by Russia. The relations between the US and Ukraine are bilateral relations between two independent countries. The US recognised Ukraine as an independent state on 25 December 1991. Since then, Washington has been working closely with Ukraine, directing its assistance to support the democratic development of the country and helping Ukraine to withstand Russian aggression. U.S. policy has since been centred on realising and strengthening a stable, democratic, prosperous, and free Ukraine more closely integrated into Europe and Euro-Atlantic structures. See other disinformation cases alleging that Ukraine is under external control: that the US has taken Ukraine under external control; that neo-Bandera's Ukraine is under the US and NATO control; that Ukraine is under US control; that US Embassy controls decisions taken in Ukraine; or that US and IMF define and control political appointments in Ukraine.

Disinfo: Ukraine is a fake country, Ukrainian ideology was created to split the Russian nation

[…] the ideology of [Ukrainian nationalism, Ukrainians] is aimed at splitting the larger, united Russian nation, separating from its southern, Little Russian branch, and creating a fake state with a fake, destructive ideology. We see that this ideology led to a bloody civil war and attempts to destroy and suppress the Donbas.

Disproof

An example of historical revisionism, recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative claiming that Ukraine is an artificial country and that Ukrainians are a part of a larger Russian nation. This publication also promotes the pro-Kremlin narrative that there is a civil war in Donbas waged by Ukraine against the people of Donbas. Ukraine is a well-defined nation-state that has preserved language, literature and identity despite foreign rule for long periods. It is a sovereign state whose borders are guaranteed by international agreements but were violated by Russia through the illegal annexation of Crimea. Ukraine is recognised in international law as a sovereign nation-state, with its own flag, nationality, language and with a democratically-elected president and parliament. The publication refers to a derogatory term 'Little Russians' to identify Ukrainians, which derives from imperial Russian and Russian irredentist ideology that is a favoured pro-Kremlin narrative aimed at weakening the national identity of Ukrainians and undermining Ukraine's sovereignty. The war in Eastern Ukraine is not a civil conflict, but a well-documented act of ongoing aggression by Russian armed forces, since February 2014. Read similar disinformation cases alleging that Ukraine is not a country, but a territory, that Ukraine has never existed as an independent country, that Ukraine is a state formation, and not a country, that Ukraine was artificially created as a state hostile towards Russia, that myth about Ukraine as a separate nation was created in the USSR, or that Ukrainian literary language is an artificial language created by the Soviet authorities.

Disinfo: Ukraine is a collapsing, degrading state with no sovereignty and rule of law

A process of self-destruction is taking place in Ukraine. No one else has started this process. Chaos, the coup that took place in 2014, was controlled from the outside. But today Western curators abandoned Ukraine and what is left is starting to eat itself. There is no statehood, sovereignty, or the rule of law. Gangs feel free in Ukraine. We are witnessing the disintegration of the state and they are already talking about this. Killings and suppression of dissent are entrusted to those who were created as units ready for military action. They beat the elderly and don’t allow people to celebrate Victory Day.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine's disintegration and imminent collapse, consistent with narratives that Ukraine is under external control since the 2013-14 Euromaidan revolution. Ukraine has a functioning government and economy, it is a member of many international organisations, such as the United Nations and the Council of Europe, and a party to international agreements. Ukraine has bilateral diplomatic relations with the majority of states. It has functioning law enforcement and court systems. Ukraine did not ban the celebration of Victory Day, May 9 is still a national holiday in Ukraine. See similar disinformation cases claiming that Ukraine is in free fall, that the coronavirus will cause the collapse of Ukraine, and that there is no solution for Ukraine.