Against the backdrop of news about the visit of Volodymyr Zelenskyi to Poland, disinformation messages appeared in the information space, in particular on telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric, with the help of which propaganda is trying to advance its agenda. A team of analysts of Detector Media has identified the most common of them.
1. Zelenskyi dreams of uniting part of the territory of Ukraine with Poland
Pro-Russian telegram channels spread the message that the main purpose of Zelenskyi’s visit to Poland is to “bring together state institutions”, because “Zelenskyi wants to assimilate with Poland”. The authors of the messages convince readers that the Polish leadership “does not cease to be interested in the western part of Ukraine”, and Zelenskyi will gladly help them and give up the territory.
This is not a new message of Russian propaganda as they systematically claims that they want to tear Ukraine apart and cut off its territories. Like, first of all, Poland wants to seize the West of Ukraine, because it is important for the Poles to restore “historical justice”. Russian propaganda spread a number of fakes and manipulations on this topic. For example, about the recruitment of Poles into the Ukrainian army or about Poland building up its military force to seize the territories of Ukraine.
In fact, the head of the international policy bureau at the Office of the Polish President, Marcin Przydacz, said that the negotiations between Zelenskyi and Duda would cover “the entire spectrum of Polish-Ukrainian relations, starting with security policy”. He even assured that historical issues would be raised during the talks.
However, propagandists need such messages in order to expose Poland as an aggressor and level the assistance that Poland provides to Ukraine in the conditions of war. Allegedly, in fact, Poland is helping Ukraine not because of good intentions.
2. Zelenskyi’s arrival in Poland means the formation of an “anti-Russian coalition”
This thesis was propagated by propagandists to feed the narrative of the existence of a “collective West”. Allegedly, all the actions taken by the Ukrainian leadership are aimed at discrediting Russia. According to the authors of the messages, during the meeting with Andrzej Duda, there were “mentions of Russia”.
It is not about any “anti-Russian coalition”. Of course, the leaders of Poland and Ukraine probably gathered to discuss security issues first of all. However, such negotiations are caused by unprovoked Russian aggression. The so-called anti-Russian coalition is a response to Russia's criminal actions against Ukraine and its civilians. Russian propaganda claims that Zelenskyi is only looking for a reason to convince the whole world that Russia and Russians are bad, but in fact “Western countries are sick with Russophobia”. However, global condemnation and sanctions against the aggressor are the consequences of Russia's criminal actions, and not vice versa, as Moscow wants to present it.
3. Zelenskyi's words should be interpreted as “preparation for the surrender of Bakhmut”
Anonymous telegram channels spread the thesis about the so-called “surrender of Bakhmut by Zelenskyi”. Like, Volodymyr Zelenskyi deliberately left for Poland in order to divert the attention of Ukrainians and the rest of the world from the “situation” with Bakhmut. According to propagandists, Zelenskyi does not want to receive a stream of negativity in his direction, so he “runs away to Poland”.
As proof, the propagandists quote Zelenskyi from a joint press conference with the President of Poland that “if there are even hotter events and the danger of personnel losses due to the encircling of the city, the appropriate correct decisions will be made on the spot”. However, these words do not indicate that the President of Ukraine is running away from problems. Volodymyr Zelenskyi assesses all the risks and does not talk about the alleged withdrawal of troops from Bakhmut.
Moreover, the authors do not add any evidence confirming the thesis about the “surrender of Bakhmut” in their publications. Thus, they shift the responsibility for what is happening in the city from the Russian army to the Ukrainian president. It was Russia that attacked Ukraine, and it is precisely because of the actions of the enemy army that the situation in individual Ukrainian cities and villages is difficult. However, Russian propaganda whitewashes itself and demonizes the Ukrainian president, who allegedly is not interested in events in his country.
According to the latest data, as of April 4, the Russian army continues to storm the city and concentrate its main efforts for the offensive, in particular in the Bakhmut direction.
4. Most Western leaders meet with Xi Jinping, while Zelenskyi is “only” going to Poland
In this case, the authors of the messages contrast the meeting between the leaders of China and Russia with today's event. Like, Zelensky’s meeting with Andrzej Duda is “window dressing”, and Xi Jinping “meets only influential politicians”, attributing such a title to Putin in particular. So, Zelenskyi “only took advantage of the possible option”.
China expressed its position on Russia's war against Ukraine when, on February 24, 2023, their Foreign Ministry presented a plan to resolve the war. The document contains 12 points, which, according to Beijing, will contribute to the end of the war. Among them are a ceasefire and hostilities, the start of peace talks, and an end to unilateral sanctions.
At the same time, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was skeptical about China's plan, arguing that Beijing “does not deserve much credibility” because it “failed to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine”.
China formally recognizes the territorial integrity of Ukraine and has never declared Russian recognition of Crimea or other Ukrainian regions that Russia wants to seize. However, for example, China is at the time of voting for the resolutions of the UN General Assembly, which provide for the recognition of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. And on the eve of his visit to Moscow, in an article for “Rossiiskaya Gazeta” (Russian Article), Xi Jinping called the war “a total aggravation of the Ukrainian crisis”. In addition, China can supply Russia with weapons to help it continue the war against Ukraine.
However, by spreading such a message, propagandists want to devalue the role of the President of Ukraine and show who really “leads the agenda”: Xi Jinping and Putin. Allegedly, Zelenskyi is not so “influential” to meet such “politicians”.