A sovereign nation’s people, history, culture, politics — even its right to exist — came under systematic attacks from Moscow.
Russia’s hybrid war on Ukraine, designed to justify and cover up the deaths of thousands of Ukrainian children, women and men, as well as Russia’s own troops, and to undermine Ukraine’s struggle against unfreedom and tyranny, poured through the traditional and social media feeds with full force.
Polygraph.info monitored and debunked hundreds of Russia’s hybrid war narratives in the past year. But even among the most malicious claims, there are “champions.” Below are 10 of the Russian state propaganda machine’s most brazen and oft-repeated lies about its war on Ukraine:
Russian President Vladimir Putin falsely claimed that his war on Ukraine did not violate the U.N. Charter and was launched to protect the residents of Ukraine’s Donbas region from “genocide.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine violated not only the U.N. Charter, but also international and Russian law. Moreover, under international criminal law, the invasion is viewed as a criminal act of aggression.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Western countries are “forcing” Ukraine to fight Russia, preventing peace talks and deploying instructors to Ukraine for training on the high-end rocket systems being used against Russian forces.
In fact, Ukraine has pleaded for weapons to defend itself against an illegal invasion. Training on longer-range rockets is taking place outside Ukraine.
With Russia facing war crimes accusations for alleged atrocities committed by its troops in Ukraine, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu tried whitewashing these actions.
“We strictly comply with humanitarian law during the special operation,” he said, using the Kremlin’s euphemism for the war.
Numerous witnesses, and reports by international observers and independent media, have provided evidence of egregious violations of the laws of war.
Putin invented false “parallels” between the eastern Ukraine regions and the recognition of Kosovo's independence. The right of Donetsk and Luhansk regions to independence is sealed in the United Nations Charter, Putin claimed.
Since at least the 18th century, ethnic Albanians have made up most of Kosovo's population. The same cannot be said about ethnic Russians in Ukraine’s Donbas region. According to the 2001 Ukrainian census (the country’s most recent), most of the people in Donbas are ethnic Ukrainians, with ethnic Russians constituting the largest minority.
Russia’s Defense Ministry lied that its forces were leaving districts around the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in a “gesture of good will” and to focus on seizing Ukraine’s Donbas region.
In fact, a rapid Ukrainian offensive pushed Russian troops out of dozens of Kharkiv region villages and cities. The Russian army abandoned tanks, trucks and ammunition, and hundreds of its soldiers were killed, wounded or captured.
Moreover, Russia’s loss of the Ukrainian city of Izium sharply reduced its ability to achieve its goals in the Donbas.
Russian forces in Ukraine suffered their most significant defeat of the war when they were forced out of the southern city of Kherson, the only provincial capital they held.
But the Russian Defense Ministry portrayed the retreat as orderly, claiming that not a single serviceman, piece of military equipment or weapon was left on the right bank of the Dnipro River.
It didn’t take long for videos, photos and news reports from Kherson to debunk the Russian claims. In defeat and retreat from Kherson, Russian troops were forced to leave behind tanks, infantry vehicles, rocket launchers and ammunition.
When the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, adopted a resolution recognizing the 1930s famine in Ukraine, known as the Holodomor, as a genocide of the Ukrainian people, the Russian Foreign Ministry responded by blaming it on nature and the West.
In fact, there is an overwhelming consensus among scholars that the Holodomor, which killed millions of Ukrainian, was the result of Stalin’s failed farming policies and brutal oppression of the rural population.
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, suggested on Russian state TV that there is no separate Ukrainian national identity, and that Ukrainians are Russian people.
In fact, Ukraine has been a separate country since the breakup of the Soviet Union, and Ukrainians have had their own, centuries-old national identity.
The Ukrainian language is about 700 years old, and the name “Ukraine” is more than 800 years old.
The Russian Foreign Ministry claimed that Sergei Korolev, the Soviet rocket scientist and engineer behind Sputnik and the first human orbital flight, was not a Ukrainian.
In fact, Korolev's family traced its ancestry in Ukraine back to the 17th century. Korolev considered himself a Ukrainian, spoke Ukrainian as his native language and loved Ukrainian songs. Korolev was born, lived, studied and designed aircraft in Ukraine until he was 19.
Putin glorified Russia’s forced deportation of Ukrainian children. Commending Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova for her work on implementing the state-organized deportation of Ukrainian kids, and their adoption by Russians, he said, falsely, that it amounts to protecting the rights of the children as “our citizens.”
The children are citizens of Ukraine, not Russia. The Russian government-sponsored deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia for adoption by Russian families is a war crime and an act of genocide under international law.