by Finn McRedmond
Wednesday, 7
September 2022
Exclusive
11:26

Eight ideas the Ukrainian government calls ‘Russian propaganda’

A spokesman for the 'disinformation unit' responds exclusively to UnHerd
by Finn McRedmond

The Ukrainian Government has revealed to UnHerd the criteria for inclusion on its blacklist of Russian propagandists.

In July, the Centre for Countering Disinformation — a branch of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine — published a list of individuals who they deemed to be “promoting Russian propaganda.” As UnHerd reported at the time, the list included several high-profile Western intellectuals and politicians: Republican Senator Rand Paul, former Democrat Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, military and geopolitical analyst Edward N. Luttwak, realist political scientist John Mearsheimer and heterodox journalist Glenn Greenwald.


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Andrii Shapovalov, acting head of the operation, explained in a letter to UnHerd that the aim of the project was to identify individuals promoting narratives “consonant with Russian propaganda,” and that so far the list includes over one hundred “scientists, military personnel, journalists and politicians.”

Considering that for more than 8 years (since 2014) a hybrid war has been going on in Ukraine, which is being fought on the battlefield and in the information segment, all these years Russia has sought to discredit Ukraine in the international arena, using its own propaganda machine and representatives of other states who could promote the narratives needed by the Russian Federation in the information segment.
- Andrii Shapolavov, Acting Head of the Centre for Countering Disinformation, Ukraine Government

The Center outlined the eight main “narratives” that they consider “consonant with Russian propaganda”:

A proxy war between NATO and Russia is taking place on the territory of Ukraine The United States and NATO provoked Putin Events in Bucha are fake There is a civil war in Ukraine Sanctions against Russia are not working NATO bases are located in Ukraine In Europe, states recognise that Crimea has always been part of Russia Ukraine was considering the forceful method of entering Donbas and taking Crimea
An extract from the Center’s letter to UnHerd lists out the ideas

Mr Shapolavov explained the criteria for inclusion on the list: “the persons got on the list due to promoting narratives that are consonant with Russian propaganda, includes speakers [sic] who are met according to the following criteria: they repeat narratives that resonate with Russian propaganda; do it for a long time and systematically; they are actively used by the Kremlin media in their propaganda.”

While some of the narratives listed are uncontroversially considered propaganda — such as the idea that “the events in Bucha are fake” — others are very widespread among Western commentators.

The idea that sanctions against Russia are not working, for example, is openly explored by mainstream publications such as The Guardian, The Economist and TIME Magazine. Writing in The Guardian in July, Simon Jenkins argued “Western sanctions against Russia are the most ill-conceived and counterproductive policy in recent international history.” And The Economist suggested in August that the “knockout blow” sanctions need to deliver “has not materialised.”

Arguing that “a proxy war between NATO and Russia is taking place on the territory of Ukraine” and “The United States and NATO provoked Putin” are similarly contested.

The spokesman confirmed that it is a “flexible and constantly updated” document, and is aimed “first of all at citizens of Ukraine in order to prevent attempts to manipulate public opinion.”

Since the publication of UnHerd’s report on the 25th of July 2022, the list has been removed from the Center for Disinformation’s Website without explanation.

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Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
3 months ago

Pretty sinister stuff. Many of these opinions are misguided. People have a right to those opinions nevertheless. And arguing points that the Russians may also or may not be making proves nothing much about being a stooge or not.

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
3 months ago

The country is at war. So it is inevitably going to be over-censorious with opposing views. That doesn’t mean that western media can’t be critical of Ukraine. Despite Putin’s provocations, we’re not the ones at war.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
3 months ago
Reply to  Roger Inkpen

But it’s trying to censor politicians and academics in Europe and the US.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
3 months ago

It’s far more sinister that a lauded western NGO, Amnesty International, supported by many celebrities and politicians in the West, justified Russian bombing of civilians when Ukrainians tried to defend themselves.

Historians will have a field day with that one.

martin logan
martin logan
3 months ago

So, Ukraine, a whole nation that is accused of being “[email protected]@s,” doesn’t have the right to an opinion about these blatantly false claims?
After more than a million of its citizens have been forcibly removed to Siberia?

Mick James
Mick James
3 months ago

Anyone who lived through the Seumas Milne years will hardly be surprised at the notion that pro Russian views can appear in the Guardian. Indeed, Milne can be given much of the credit for creating the concept of NATO as an expansionary military force engaged in a “drang nach osten” that can only be interpreted as a prelude to (and therefore already) an assault on Russia. Whether this makes Milne an actual Russian propagandist is another matter, but there can be no doubt that this view–and the vassal state “realism” espoused by the likes of Jenkins and Max Hastings are music to Russian ears.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
3 months ago
Reply to  Mick James

This article didn’t mention the guardian, which was far better under Milne.

Aaron James
Aaron James
2 months ago
Reply to  Mick James

What has Seumas Milne got to do with this story?
Why do people up vote this comment? It verges on the ”Look – A Squirrle!”distraction.

The reality is what is valid international discussions are being branded as Propaganda.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 months ago

Jenkins, as so often, is wrong. Net zero is the most ill-conceived and counterproductive policy in recent international history.

Brian String
Brian String
3 months ago

Why the beating around the bush? It’s a kill list, or at the very least serves as the inspiration for one, and Darya Dugina is no longer on it. Many of those points are uncontroversial for a growing number of people. For instance, the idea that this is a proxy war between Russia and the US / NATO has been repeated, unchallenged and quite openly in US mainstream media, and if there isn’t a civil war in Ukraine, how does one explain that much (it seems the majority perhaps) of the fighting in the Donbass is being conducted by the Donbass militias who have of course been engaged in conflict with Kiev for the last eight years? In fact I don’t think there’s anything on this list of criteria that I would seriously challenge. The only controversial one being Bucha, but despite Russia repeatedly tried to get the matter thoroughly investigated, the UK (acting as president of the Security Council at the time) refused THREE times to launch an investigation. There are numerous narratives and theories around Bucha, but it seems no one with the wherewithal is prepared to hold an investigation. In my mind there can only be one reason for that, namely that they want the existing story to remain in people’s minds intact and untarnished so it remains a handy shortcut to have in any discussion that questions the whole Ukraine narrative. Should your voice mildly deviate from the orthodoxy on the war in Ukraine, the words ‘What about Bucha then?’ can be summoned with finalistic glee and if the questioning is in a public space, you are liable to be banned from it, as was the case with former Marine and UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, banned from Twitter, and also placed on ‘the list’,

Don Juan
Don Juan
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian String

“if there isn’t a civil war in Ukraine, how does one explain that much … of the fighting in the Donbass is being conducted by the Donbass militias…?” So, ahem, Donbas IS part of Ukraine?
Make your mind up Mr Bot, I mean Mr String. If the Donbas militas are engaged in a “civil war” then they must be Ukranian and Ukraine, I think I got me geography right, is not Russia or a Russian province/autonomous region/republic. Ukraine is, if I am to believe the results of the 1991 referendum and the charters of the United Nations, a sovereign nation and this sovereignty including -may I remind you- Crimea and Donbas- has been violated by Russia with its proxies in the Donbas.
Let’s tell it as it is.

Brian String
Brian String
3 months ago
Reply to  Don Juan

Of course Donbass is currently part of the Ukraine, this explains why it is at heart a civil war – Ukrainian against Ukrainian. Your point simply illustrates this. Careful, you’ll be on the list too.

Last edited 3 months ago by Brian String
Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian String

The Donbas has been an area of difficulty for Ukraine for a very long time between nominal Ukraine residents and relocated Russians after the great famine. And the E-W tension created pre 2014 was an issue that Ukraine needed to manage. The Russian entry after 2014 stoked flames that amplified the divisions and were manipulated by Russia to strengthen control in Crimea. The invasion may have been the result of an inability for Russia to control the Donbas.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
3 months ago
Reply to  Don Juan

Direct hit Don!

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
3 months ago
Reply to  Don Juan

A study was recently done in Australia and 80% of the pro Ukraine comments were by ‘bot’.
Britain is starting to embarrass itself, if you want a war with Russia you know where they are. Be my guest.

martin logan
martin logan
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian String

Sorry, “Free Donbas” has been under the control of criminal gangs for 8 years.
Their militia has been forcibly recruited from people off the street, aged up to 70, and with severe medical problems. They do this because Putin dare not mobilize his own Russians.
The inevitable result of this was the collapse of the Russian front around Kharkiv. The poorly supplied and supported Donbasers simply melted away or surrendered. The Russian National Guard likewise folded.

R Wright
R Wright
3 months ago

The mask slips. At least I have a few new names to add to my reading list.

Iris C
Iris C
3 months ago

I wish Liz Truss would read this and take a more pragmatic view of the situation in Ukraine. Some of the EU countries are falling away and Germany will eventually have to respond to their public’s discontent. She is going to base her handouts on the Ukraine war continuing indefinitely and this, I believe, is short sighted. She needs to think of UK citizens rather than the corrupt Ukrainian hierarchy.

John Tyler
John Tyler
3 months ago
Reply to  Iris C

Good idea! Let’s leave Ukraine to the mercy of Russian troops, who rape, torture and murder civilians as much as their military opponents. Putin is such a cuddly little darling that we should let him do whatever he wants. (I think I’ll go and be sick now. Appeasement is like a very nasty disease.)

Aaron James
Aaron James
2 months ago
Reply to  John Tyler

maybe you need to hug a Uyghur and get some righteous stratification.

If letting Ukraine fall to Russia Russia wile it was still intact was unacceptable, so much so that we needed to get in the war – only in the process so disrupting the global economy and likely will kill a great many millions through the resulting Depression caused, and the wreck of EU and so on – Do you feel it was worth it seeing the results?

Ukraine is flattened, many dead and disabled, many refugees will never return, Europe in chaos from the costs, the world facing starvation and economic collapse – you think this was a Good Cause? This was the worst thing the Neo-Cons Biden and Boris could ever have done to they world – and they still get support from the MSM –

Last edited 2 months ago by Aaron James
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
3 months ago
Reply to  Iris C

The UK’s far too active (and highly expensive) involvement in this far away war is crazy and, as you say, shortsighted. The simple fact is that, to achieve peace in rhe world (and gas btw) the UK will have make friends with it’s erstwhile enemy. If we think Russia is too “unsavoury” to be on friendly terms with hiw do we justify our friendly terms with murderous, apartheid regimes like Saudi Arabia and Israel amd their genocidal attacks on Yemen and Palestine to mention just two. There are others as well. Utter hypochasy. It’s simply GB playing big powerful nation and/or sucking up to big brother USA with little regard for the appalling loss of life on every side: and little regard too for the real impoverishment of their own people at home!

Last edited 3 months ago by Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
3 months ago

The question arises: What is the purpose of such a list?
1. To get those listed to detract? Due to shame? Fear?
2. To deliberately damage their professional reputations/careers?
3. To encourage fanatics to murder those listed, “fatwah style”?

No matter what the objective it is always utterly wrong to draw up such a list based on a person’s heart-felt opinion (except perhaps in the case of hate speech but what is that, exactly?) Freedom of speech and the right to protest are crucial cornerstones of democracy. Of course Ukraine is a stranger to this concept as is Russia (and now, curiously, Tory Britain is headed that way).
What IS legitimate in this areana is to draw up a list of “bad guys” based not on what they say but on what they do. That would include the greedy oligarchs and heads of usurous MNCs and their puppet politicians who actually do things that hurt people and the natural environment; motivated by nothing other than megalomania, averice and downright evil. Sadly, such a list has not to my knowledge, been drawn up. It is needed urgently.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

“Freedom of speech and the right to protest are crucial cornerstones of democracy.” They most certainly are — but in war, as the Romans said, the laws fall silent. During America’s Civil War freedom of speech was suspended, and the same was true (including in Britain) during WWI and WWII. So the Ukrainians have a perfect right to publish their list, which contains a couple of people whose work I respect — and the West has a perfect right to ignore it.

Right Stuff
Right Stuff
2 months ago

Anatoliy Golitzen told us of disinformation and misdirection in his New Lies for Old. Yuri Bezmenov tells us more in Love Letter to America. Both of these men were demonized by the leftists of the world, but their writing was right-on for our world today. We live in a world of sharks, and we are but minnows.

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago

Stop clutching your pearls in horror.
This isn’t a “kill list.” It simply highlights people whose views are very far from the reality in Ukraine.
And how about that offensive near Kharkiv? 400 Sq km retaken!.
The only real question now is whether Russia survives this debacle.

Johan Grönwall
Johan Grönwall
2 months ago

There’s been several articles here on Unherd promoting the russian ”narrative” in a deceitful way, by appearing objective and reasonable. Typically it’s a collective effort, since the comments all echo the author’s view.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago

John Mearsheimer and some of the other foreign policy realists or outright apologists for Putin’s regime are increasingly looking pretty ridiculous, not to say in a few cases, sinister. There is after all, as we all ought to know from everyday life, a world of difference between ‘reasons’ and ‘excuses’. Adolf Hitler had a host of such ‘reasons’ for invading Poland in 1939.
This point seems to be lost by most of those arguing that the ‘West’ and Ukraine are somehow responsible for the latter’s brutal invasion by Russia. (Did Ukraine perhaps attempt to reconquer Crimea, which was in itself invaded 8 years ago? No it did not). The Ukrainians don’t have the power to ensure such opinions are censored, but they have every right to call out these falsehoods out.

Last edited 2 months ago by Andrew Fisher
David Giles
David Giles
2 months ago

Any journalist who can describe a clear and blatant untruth such as “The United States and NATO provoked Putin” as contested is incontestably a Russian propagandist, for for nothing but, perhaps, Unheard.

martin logan
martin logan
3 months ago

This is simply free speech.
The govt of Ukraine has the right to their opinion, and we have the right to ours.
Most seem pretty reasonable. This isn’t a “proxy war.”
Once Putin invaded Ukraine in 2014, the only military support Ukraine could obtain was from the West. Putin’s incompetent handling of Ukraine from start to finish drove them into the arms of the West.
He’s betrayed Russia’s true interests at every turn.
And now he’s about to lose much of the Russian Army there.
The person who should have read this most carefully was Vova himself.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
3 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

All far too simplistic and well off the core point. When the clear, stated objective of the USA is to weaken Russia (to the last Ukranian: possibly to the last European as well if it goes nuclear?) THAT by any definition is a “Proxy war”.
Do you think Ayatollah Khomeini’s list (of one) imposing a fatwah on Salman Rushdi was also free just speech?

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

This isn’t as kill list. It’s a list of people whose ideas are contrary to observable facts.