Spilnota Detector Media

Message Ukraine is allegedly becoming the “Afghanistan of Europe”

Propagandists are distributing in anonymous telegram channels a fragment of an interview with American economist Jeffrey Sachs for Bad Faith, a YouTube channel with 129 thousand subscribers. In this passage, Sachs argues that Ukraine is becoming the Afghanistan of Europe. However, such a comparison is not appropriate and plays into Russian propaganda.

According to the economist, the Americans were present in Afghanistan for years until everything from infrastructure to civic culture was destroyed. He says it's supposedly very American to “have a place on the chessboard” just to watch this destruction. According to Sachs, the same thing is happening in Ukraine. That is, the basis for Sachs’ comparison of Ukraine and Afghanistan is conditional American intervention in both countries.

The United States invaded Afghanistan as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attack, starting the War on Terror. The purpose of the invasion was to destroy the Al-Qaeda group in Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban government, which was actively collaborating with terrorist organizations. Ukraine's war against Russia began with a full-scale Russian invasion. In this war, the United States is a partner country that openly supports Ukraine, providing financial and military assistance, but not sending its military to participate in hostilities. It is inappropriate to simply attribute these two cases to US foreign intervention.

For Russian propagandists, comparing Ukraine and Afghanistan is beneficial. Firstly, it helps to demoralize the Ukrainians, who, according to this logic, are fighting for the US to maintain hegemony. And the States do not seem to end the war instantly, although they are capable of doing so. Secondly, comparing Ukraine and Afghanistan gives pro-Russian propagandists reasons to demonize the United States and, accordingly, strengthen the idea that Russia is fighting for peace. Thirdly, drawing analogies between Afghanistan and Ukraine helps to reduce US citizens' support for financing Ukraine. A large number of Americans believe the invasion of Afghanistan was a mistake and support an end to American involvement. Therefore, Russian propagandists are interested in spreading the narrative about the gradual transformation of Ukraine into Afghanistan.

Manipulation Zelenskyi allegedly said that 70% of American aid remains in the US due to “corruption and kickbacks”

Propagandists spreading pro-Russian rhetoric through social networks claim that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi admitted that only 30% of American aid reaches Ukraine, with the rest remaining in the United States. They say that this indicates corruption schemes and kickbacks and therefore Zelenskyi will cease to be President. However, such statements are manipulation.

Specialists from the StopFake project drew attention to it. They found that the fact that a significant portion of US financial aid intended to support Ukraine goes to defense plants in the United States is not evidence of corruption or kickbacks. This is a legal procedure for providing military assistance to other countries, and information about it is publicly available.

During a press conference in Riga, Volodymyr Zelenskyi indeed noted that more than 70% of the allocated funds remain at American defense enterprises. The President explained that this is due to the fact that the cost of weapons provided to Ukraine does not include their free transfer, and American enterprises receive the funds for their services. However, this situation does not indicate any misunderstanding or misconduct, but is part of the normal procedure for providing military assistance.

The StopFake analysts point to an article by The Washington Post writer Marc Thiessen for more context on this process. In particular, this approach helps support the American economy by creating jobs and helping local businesses that support weapons production. This is not a corruption scheme, but a legitimate mechanism to promote defense production.

Propagandists spread such manipulations to reinforce their narrative of “corrupt Ukraine”. Detector Media has already written about other methods that Russia uses for this.

Fake The wife of a deputy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs crossed the Ukrainian-Hungarian border with $13 million

Some Ukrainian media disseminated information that on September 29, the wife of Deputy Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Vasyl Teteria allegedly crossed the Ukrainian-Hungarian border at the Chop-Zakhon checkpoint with the amount of $13 million. This money was allegedly discovered by the Hungarian side. It's fake.

The case was studied by the fact-checkers of the Center for Strategic Communications. On October 5, the Hungarian side informed Ukraine that “in the period from September 28 to 30, 2023, at the Zakhon checkpoint, police representatives did not find any funds that were being moved in concealment from border and customs control, and they also did not know about the declaration of funds in the amount of 13 million US dollars”. The State Customs Service of Ukraine reported this on its website.

Moreover, border and law enforcement agencies established that the specified person did not cross the state border at all in 2023.

Thus, Russian propaganda is trying to discredit government bodies and arouse distrust among Ukrainians, saying that all officials are corrupt. Previously, we talked about the manipulation that the White House said that corruption in Ukraine has increased by 500%, and US aid is not reaching Ukrainians.

Fake An American auditor who monitored the Western weapons supply in Ukraine was killed in Kyiv

Such information was disseminated on social networks, in particular, on telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. Reports say that an American auditor who was investigating possible thefts in the supply of Western weapons to Ukraine was allegedly killed in Kyiv. The publications refer to an alleged press release from the Kyiv police. It's a lie.

Analysts from the StopFake project took up this case and found out that the Kyiv police did not report such an incident and did not publish a single press release about the murder of the auditor - which means this is simply an invention of Russian propaganda. The fact-checkers also contacted the US Embassy in Ukraine with a request to confirm or deny the death of an American auditor in Kyiv. The embassy told them that the “news” disseminated by Russian propaganda was fake.

Russian propaganda is trying to portray Ukraine as a cradle of corruption in order to devalue and neutralize Ukrainian intentions to combat corruption and further European integration measures. Allegedly, Ukrainian officials are ready to kill and get rid of Western auditors, just so as not to record the “theft” of Western weapons. In addition, the fight against corruption is one of the requirements of European integration. By spreading such fakes, propagandists are trying to show that corruption in Ukraine allegedly cannot be corrected, so it will not be accepted into the EU or NATO.

Fake Ex-Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov left for Europe and is “resting there on a yacht”

This information was disseminated on anonymous telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. The reports say how, after the resignation of the already former Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov, he was allegedly spotted on a yacht in a European town. Anonymous telegrams convinced that the ex-minister was sent on vacation for “taxpayers’ money”, and he was profiting from the Ukrainians. Photo evidence is added to publications and summarized. However, this is a lie.

StopFake project specialists were able to analyze the case and found out that the photo of Oleksii Reznikov’s vacation actually exists, but it was created back in 2020. Then, on his pages on social networks, in particular on Facebook, the official announced his  engagement. Moreover, only in the Russian segment of social networks this photo was distributed with the caption about “rest after retirement”. That is, the photo dated 2020 has no relation to the present day. The authors of the false publication simply used an old photo to create a fake story.

Thus, Russian agitprop cultivates hatred of the Ukrainian leadership, which completely allows officials of various kinds to “relax for the money of Ukrainians”. And it is precisely such actions on the part of the Ukrainian authorities that give rise to corruption - since allegedly after the official’s resignation, his trip was financed. So, by spreading such fakes, propagandists also want to show that corruption in Ukraine allegedly cannot be corrected, so it will not be accepted into the EU or NATO.

By the way, you may also read the story about how Zelenskyi allegedly travels to Poland on the “golden train”.

Fake The arrest of Kolomoiskyi is a “circus” with which Zelenskyi distracts attention and shows the US and Europe fighting corruption

Anonymous telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric are disseminating information that Volodymyr Zelenskyi staged a circus by arresting Ihor Kolomoiskyi. This is happening to show Ukrainians that no one is untouchable, to show Russians that there is real democracy in Ukraine, and to show citizens of the United States and Europe that Ukraine is fighting corruption. “The showmen of the Kyiv regime are organizing a circus for the poor and poorly educated”, the text says. It is not true.

The case was investigated by the fact-checker of the EUvsDiSiNFO project.

Russian propaganda is trying to discredit ongoing anti-corruption measures in Ukraine so that the country receives EU membership. The arrests and release of well-known people in Ukraine, in particular the oligarch Ihor Kolomoiskyi, are one of such measures as part of this campaign.

Thus, Russian propaganda is trying to discredit the Ukrainian authorities and ridicule the President of Ukraine, appealing to his past as a comedian. The ongoing anti-corruption initiatives refute the narrative of Russian propagandists that Ukraine is the most corrupt state. Previously, we explained the message that international support for Ukraine is being reduced due to corruption.

Fake Oleksii Reznikov was fired from the post of Minister of Defense due to the fact that the war in Ukraine dragged on

The Kremlin media are spreading information that the Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov was removed from his post, allegedly due to the fact that “the conflict with Russia dragged on”. Russian propaganda refers to an article in The New York Times. It is not true.

The fact-checkers of the StopFake project drew attention to the case. After analyzing the New York Times article cited by Russian propagandists, they came to the conclusion that the publication did not indicate this reason as the key reason for the dismissal of Oleksii  Reznikov. “The fate of Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has become the subject of growing speculation in Ukraine as financial irregularities at the ministry became known and the government launched several investigations into official corruption”, the NYT article says. They also add that as the war dragged on, there was a need for new leadership that could solve the accumulating problems.

Thus, Russian propaganda discredits the Ukrainian authorities and tries to shift the responsibility to Ukraine - they say, it is to blame for the duration of the war that Russia started. Russian propaganda uses the “most guilty” tactics.

Manipulation Obama slams Biden for “corruption”

Propagandists on social networks are spreading messages according to which the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, allegedly criticized the current US President Joe Biden for corruption in a recent interview with CNN. Like, one should not consider the Ministry of Justice as one's own personal law firm and one should not ignore legal norms to prevent the influence of personal interests on the work of institutions. They argue that this quote is related to Biden's corruption in Ukraine, which has become more talked about by representatives of the US Republican Party. This is manipulation.

Specialists of the MythDetector project drew attention to it. They found that Obama's statement was published without context and with erroneous descriptions. In the mentioned  interview, it did consider Donald Trump. So Obama answered the question “Will American institutions withstand another Trump victory in the presidential election?”.

Thus, propagandists want to destabilize the situation in the United States, discredit Joe Biden and his support for Ukraine. This manipulation is an example of how Russian propaganda uses the “Ukrainian trace” conspiracy theory in the Biden vice presidency, which we wrote about earlier.

Manipulation Corruption in Ukraine has grown by 500%, and aid from the United States does not reach Ukrainians, the White House said

Such information was disseminated in social networks, in particular, on telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. Reports say that the United States is allegedly recording a huge number of facts of corruption and embezzlement in Ukraine, which have increased by 500% over the past year. Some officials allegedly claim that “because of the scale of corruption” only 20% of financial assistance from Washington reaches Ukrainians. This was allegedly announced at the end of March by a member of the House of Representatives of the US Congress Michael McCall.

The experts of the StopFake project worked on the case, and they determined that some facts of Michael McCall's statement were distorted, while others were invented. The basis for creating disinformation stuffing was a hearing in the US Congress on March 29 on the mechanisms for transparency and accountability of US assistance to Ukraine. In his opening remarks, Michael McCall, head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that “only 20% of the funding is going directly to the Ukrainian government in the form of direct budgetary assistance”. It was this expression of McCall that was distorted by the pro-Russian telegram channels, which stated that allegedly only 20% of financial assistance to Ukraine reaches the recipient, and the rest is stolen by the Ukrainian authorities. At the same time, the thesis about the growth of corruption by 500% in Ukraine is a fiction.

During the same hearing, officials unanimously declared that there was “no evidence that support for Ukraine was misused”.

Fake Bill Gates called the current leadership of Ukraine one of the worst in the world

This message was circulated on telegram channels and pro-Kremlin media. It says that American businessman Bill Gates allegedly said that the government of Ukraine is “one of the worst in the world, it’s really unfortunate for the nation”. As evidence, propagandists cite an interview with Bill Gates that he allegedly gave to the Australian Lowy Institute think tank, which discussed the war against Ukraine and how it affects the situation in the world. However, Bill Gates did not say this, it is a lie.

Analysts of the StopFake project investigated this case and carefully reviewed the interview and determined that the propagandists distorted Bill's quote-answer to the question of how Zelenskyi conveys the main messages to society.

To which Gates replied that, in his opinion, “the Ukrainian government was one of the worst in the world: it is corrupt and controlled only by a few wealthy people”. However, now he is amazed with how the Ukrainian leadership conveys important messages to the public.

Bill Gates did not mean the current government in Ukraine and spoke about the government “before the war”. Russia launched a war against Ukraine in February 2014, annexing Crimea and starting a war on the territory of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Gates was referring specifically to the years of Yanukovych's rule, which were precisely characterized by the dominance of total corruption in Ukraine and the concentration of power in the hands of a few oligarchs. It was these factors that led to the revolution of dignity and the change of government in the country.

Message Due to corruption, international support for Ukraine goes down

Russian propaganda spreads messages to foreign audiences that countries are reducing aid to Ukraine because of corruption. Like, CIA director William Burns admitted this during his visit to Kyiv.

According to EU vs Disinfo analysts, Burns did say that it would be more difficult for Ukraine to get help from the United States. However, this is due to changes in US domestic politics, but not to corruption in Ukraine. Russian propaganda once again distorted the Western official's quote to advance their interests. Support for Ukraine abroad is not decreasing. Moreover, a number of countries, including the United States, announced a decision to provide Ukraine with regular aid packages and military equipment, including tanks.

Russian propaganda is systematically spreading messages to discredit Western aid to Ukraine. Allegedly, Ukraine is being supplied with “scrap”, and it will never receive the desired weapons.