Disinfo: Rumours about Russian military presence in Donbas come from linguistic misunderstanding

Summary

When rural men from Western Ukraine were sent by the Ukrainian authorities to Donbas to take part in a military operation, they found themselves in a completely different territory with Russian as a dominant language. Hence most of them really believed that they fight with Russians, i.e. with Russia. Moreover, in contrast to Russian language with different words for the Russian language (‘Russkiy’) and for the concepts that have relation to Russia (‘rossiyskiy’), in Ukrainian the same word ‘rosiys’kyy’ is used. Hence it followed for the military men from Western Ukraine that Russian speakers are Russians. As a result, until nowadays many believe that Russian soldiers are present in Donbas.

Disproof

This narrative claims the war in Ukraine is a civil war and Russia has nothing to do with it. In reality this message is a conspiracy consistent with common pro-Kremlin disinformation about the war in Ukraine. It disregards a multitude of factual evidence of Russian military presence in Donbas. Consult the evidence database and publications with further evidence here and here. It was Russia that provoked a war in Ukraine, and it is not a civil war. The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has stated that “the information available suggests that the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol amounts to an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. This international armed conflict began at the latest on 26 February when the Russian Federation deployed members of its armed forces to gain control over parts of the Ukrainian territory without the consent of the Ukrainian Government. The European Union stated in July 2014 that "arms and fighters continue flowing into Ukraine from the Russian Federation". At the NATO Summit in Wales in September 2014, NATO leaders condemned in the strongest terms Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine and demanded that Russia stop and withdraw its forces from Ukraine and along the country’s border. NATO leaders also demanded that Russia comply with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities; end its illegitimate occupation of Crimea; refrain from aggressive actions against Ukraine; halt the flow of weapons, equipment, people and money across the border to the separatists; and stop fomenting tension along and across the Ukrainian border. According to the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Russian special forces and troops operated to mobilize, lead, equip, and support separatist militias in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine from spring 2014 to the present, although their presence was denied by Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted Russia's military presence in Ukraine in 2015.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 154
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 12/05/2019
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Ukraine, Russia
  • Keywords: Russian language, Conspiracy theory, Donbas
see more

Bloomberg started information war against Russia and works against Belarus-Russia relations

Bloomberg wrote about Vladimir Putin’s insidious plot concerning Belarus and referred to an anonymous source close to the Kremlin. The anonymous source is a trick, as in reality it does not exist. Anything can be published based on references to the “sources close to the Kremlin”. Bloomberg does its best to turn Belarus and Russia against each other to prevent the establishment of the Union State between the two countries. Bloomberg will continue writing about political and economic disagreements between Belarus and Russia, and its future allegations will be based on the “sources close to the Kremlin”. It was indeed Bloomberg who started an information war against Russia, and it was Bloomberg who was at the head of all international conflicts.

Disproof

This message is conspiracy which is consistent with repetitive pro-Kremlin narratives about the West staging an anti-Russia information war, West's attempts to disrupt Belarus-Russia relations, and about Western media outlets as subservient to Western political elites. On 24 April 2019 Bloomberg published an article, titled Putin’s Term Limit Stirs Fears of a Takeover in Belarus. It says that Russia's recent slash of economic subsidies to Belarus fuels fears in Minsk that the Kremlin may look for Belarus' possible absorption. According to the article, three people close to the Kremlin said to Bloomberg that "Putin may lay plans to head a unified state with neighboring Belarus to sidestep a constitutional ban on remaining president after 2024." The use of unnamed sources does not violate journalist ethics under certain conditions. It is justified when information from source is important to the story, could not be obtained any other way and the source is credible, the International Journalists' Network explainer says. After an increase in tensions between Belarus and Russia in December 2018, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko himself publicly spoke about Moscow's interest to incorporate Belarus under the cover of 'deep integration'. Belarusian and Russian state-owned and state-controlled media regularly report about political and economic disagreements between the two countries. Episodic Bloomberg publications about Belarus-Russia relations do not stand out in this respect. See a similar recent disinformation case alleging that Russian company Rosneft is an object of defamatory campaign by Reuters and other western media.

Russia introduced passport control at the border with Belarus because of European fraud with export of food

EU businesses did multiple attempts to bypass Russian embargo and to sell their food products on the Russian market. This way Europeans framed the Belarusian government. These massive provocations by EU businesses resulted in a passport control on Belarus-Russia border that the Russian government had to introduce.

Disproof

This ungrounded claim is consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about West's attempts to bring discord in Belarus-Russia relations.

In the last years Russia indeed restricted control at the border with Belarus. It established a security zone with random border controls along the border with Belarus and moved flights to Belarus from domestic to international terminals. Given that the signing of the Agreement on mutual recognition of visas between Belarus and Russia is delayed, the issue of transit through Belarus-Russian border for third country nationals remains unresolved.

Not a single air defence system of the Russian armed forces has ever crossed the Ukrainian border

Not a single air defence system of the Russian armed forces has ever crossed the Ukrainian-[Russian] border.

Disproof

One of the multiple pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about the downing of the MH17 flight.

The JIT has been able to identify a large part of the route concerning the arrival and the departure of the BUK-TELAR. This was the result of intercepted telephone conversations, witness statements, photographs and videos that had been posted on social media, and a video never shown before which was obtained from a witness. The system was transported from Russian territory into eastern Ukraine and was later transported on a white Volvo truck with a low-boy trailer. The truck was escorted by several other vehicles and by armed men in uniform.