On May 22, the Russian state media outlet RT published an op-ed by Finian Cunningham claiming that U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker went to Ukraine and told his hosts that the U.S. would lend military support to help retake the Russian-occupied territories in the Crimea and Donbas regions.
The Ukrainian NGO StopFake.org found that a number of other Russian state media outlets also reported on Volker’s visit, variously claiming he told Ukrainians to accept the loss of their territory or that Ukraine could not possibly retake the territory because Russia is “too strong.”
StopFake.org showed how Volker’s quotes had been taken out of context, and quoted what he actually said:
“There’s no way the Ukrainians could take the territory back that’s already been taken by the Russians, the Russians are just too powerful. But the cost to Russia of further advancement is already increased and will continue to increase. And if that’s the case then you have to ask yourself if you’re sitting in Moscow, what are we getting out of this? We’re getting Russian casualties, soldiers being killed fighting in Ukraine, for what? That’s why I hope they will see there is no benefit for them but the price will continue to grow. So why not exchange this for something positive, such as lifting sanctions? This will be something positive on the Russian agenda with the rest of the international community,” Volker told the BBC in an interview.
Volker told Polygraph.info that Russian media had misrepresented what he had said during his visit to Ukraine.
“What I was saying is that Ukraine cannot take back the territories by military force — it can regain them only through Russia agreeing to withdraw its forces and implement the Minsk agreements,” Volker wrote in an email. “The RT story seems to say the opposite — that I was saying U.S. military assistance to Ukraine is aimed at retaking the territory by force, which is also false.”
Ukraine recently received its first shipment of Javelin man-portable anti-tank missiles from the U.S. The Ukrainian government paid $47 million for the missile systems, as well as training and instruction for Ukrainian military personnel.
Also on May 21, the Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reported that the first live-fire exercise with the Javelin on Ukrainian soil had been held.
President Petro Poroshenko announced the test firing in a Tweet that same day.
While the Javelin missiles are intended to increase the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ ability to repel further Russian attacks, their use and deployment near the front lines are heavily restricted.U.S. officials have insisted the missiles are only meant for “defensive” measures.
Western media cite U.S. defense sources who say the Javelins are supplied only to units “far back” from the front in eastern Ukraine to ensure they’re not used for offensive purposes or captured by Russian-backed forces.