Stop These 15 Russian Lies

A Free Version Of “Deconstructing Russian Propaganda”

11 min readJan 20, 2023
A Russian Propaganda Meme Regularly Shared online

This is a free version of the paid article “Deconstructing Russian Propaganda”. Enjoy!

Wars are fought not only on the ground, but also in the mind. In the form of information, disinformation, and manipulation. Russia has been honing these skills for over a century. It’s a requirement to survive such cultural isolation, both as part of the Soviet Union and now Putinism, which has pushed Russia steadily back away from foreign influence. Putin himself being a master of deceit, having risen out of the ranks of the KGB, the Soviet’s notorious secret police.

Here is a list of typical Russian disinformation that has made its way around the internet. It will continue to be updated with more examples as they come.

1. Western media is lying!

Is western media less trustworthy than media run by an authoritarian regime that criminalizes all forms of criticism of the government? We’re not talking a few whistleblowers releasing issues relating to national security. The Russian government will literally throw people in jail for 15 years for any sort of criticism, even just not supporting this war. That is if you’re lucky enough to not find yourself “coincidently” on the wrong side of a multi-story window.

Meanwhile, in western countries anti-government, anti-war sentiment is not just allowed but is a thriving industry. Half of social media networks are basically people criticizing and making fun of their government. Are they biased? Of course. However, when you don’t have prison or death to scare you from reporting things not favourable to the government, you can afford to be a bit more accurate. Or at least, there is a wider marketplace of information that can get us much closer to the truth.

We must remember it’s not just corporate media conglomerates bringing us information but also intelligence agencies from multiple countries (US, UK, Germany, etc) as well as independent journalists in Ukraine. If you can learn how to properly assess each source based on their biases, you can get a pretty good idea of what’s going on. At least far better than anyone trusting Russian media or those pushing it, wittingly or unwittingly.

2. Ukraine is run by Nazis!

FALSE. In the last legislative election, the far-right “Nazi-ish” party Svoboda received only 2.15% of the vote. A percentage that has been in constant decline over the past decade after the party reached a high of 10% in 2012. So in a sense, Ukraine has been “denazifying” all by itself without need of help from an invading army.

Additionally, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, is not only Jewish but also lost family in the holocaust. Indeed, the most of these accused “Nazis” are less focused on such a “final solution” and more in just protecting their country from another Soviet-like takeover. Perhaps with a bit (or a lot) of racism in the mix, but that’s hardly just a problem with Ukraine’s far-right. Indeed, there is probably not a country in the world that does not have this problem.

In fact, if we go by what the Nazis actually did, invading countries, silencing opponents, mass executions, rapes, and having an iconic symbol of war, then Ukraine holds no candle to Russia.

It is true, however, that videos have surfaced of Ukrainians tying troublemakers to posts in the early days of the war. This can easily be attributed to the breakdown of law in order due to the… wait for it… Russia’s invasion. Though cruel, let’s not pretend it’s on the same level of anything the Nazis did. These stories soon dissipated once Ukrainian Forces became more organized and capable of managing the areas they control.

3. NATO started it!

NATO is a defensive pact, their entire purpose is to deter threats to their member countries. NATO did not invade Ukraine, Russia did. NATO did not pressure Ukraine’s president to stall signing the EU–Ukraine Association Agreement in 2014, sparking the Euromaidan protests. Russia did. NATO did not give the order to kill protesters, Ukraine’s Russian puppet President did. This of course resulted Kyiv’s parliament to justifiably vote to oust him, which Russian frames as some sort of American-led coup. More nonsense propaganda.

While NATO has been selling Ukraine arms for years now, it has largely been in response to Russian aggression. It was Russia who invaded Crimea and organized, armed, rebel groups in the eastern Donbas region (see below) that was the impetus for this involvement. Every nation has the right to buy tools for its own defence, Ukraine is no different.

NATO is Russia’s big bogeyman because it stands in the way of Russia’s true aim, to reclaim former western member/satellite states on its way to reclaim its former “glory”. Since many of these States are now NATO members, it means any attack would result in a war Russia knows it cannot win. The propaganda war is all it really has left.

4. This is the result of the American-led coup in Ukraine!

No. See above.

5. Russia is just protecting Russians in Donbas who’ve been under attack by Ukraine since 2014!

Who started the war in Donbas? Not Ukraine. The truth is, Russia has been financing and arming rebels there since the beginning. In fact, a 2020 investigation by the International Court of Human Rights found members of “pro-Russian separatist forces have generally committed alleged crimes “of a more severe nature and on a significantly larger scale than members of Ukrainian government forces”’.

The reality is, Ukraine has spent the years since 2014 defending itself from what is clearly a Russian attempt to an annex Russian-speaking territories via sham “People’s Republics”. Blaming Ukraine for this is as nonsensical as blaming any of the European nations that bore the brunt of Hitler’s brutality when he tried the same. This is why discrediting Ukrainian plight through calling them Nazis is especially ironic.

For those who really believe Russia’s concern for the people of these so-called separatists is genuine, consider how little they cared for Chechen separatists who attempted the same. To the point of destroying Grozny and killing thousands of civilians to prevent what Russia later claimed they wanted to accomplish in Ukraine. If you try to separate from a Russian neighbor, Putin will defend you. If you try to separate from Russia, Putin will destroy you. How nice of him.

6. Ukraine violated the Minsk agreement!

So did Russia. This article from The Center for European Policy Analysis explains what the Mink agreement(s) actually are and why this is a very uninformed argument.

7. But American-funded bioweapons in Ukraine!

What is true is the US has helped Ukraine in a non-military effort to safely dispose of left over Soviet era materials, including chemical, biological, & nuclear weapons. There is zero evidence it goes anywhere beyond that, despite what Russia wants you to believe.

No, there aren’t any weaponized birds either… unsurprisingly enough.

8. Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a dictator who banned all other political parties!

False. His government only banned political parties with ties to Russia after the full-scale invasion started. Similar to how Nazi affiliated parties were banned across the allied nations in WWII and communist parties were banned during the Cold War.

To permit parties in government who could be dealing with your enemies is a national security risk. Especially while said enemies are killing, raping, and torturing your people.

The majority of political parties, including the largest opposition party, remain unbanned in Ukraine.

9. Zelenskyy is a war criminal!

False. He is a president trying to save his country from a foreign invasion. Does that mean he always makes good decisions and we should defend everything he does? Of course not.

For example, his constant attempts to goad the West into an all out conflict with Russia is dangerous, even if understandable.

Recently, his rushing to blame Russia for an accidental strike in Poland by a rogue Ukrainian air defense missile before facts were known was irresponsible. But it’s worth noting northwestern Ukraine was under a barrage of Russian strikes targeting civilians & infrastructure, so it wasn’t a completely illogical assumption at the time.

It’s important to remember Zelenskyy is a leader of a country that is slowly being reduced to rubble around him. Rash judgements are often a part of war as emotions run high. Even Churchill f’d up, that doesn’t make him a war criminal. Especially compared to Hitler.

Zelenskyy isn’t either, especially compared to Putin.

10. Ukraine staged massacres of their own people to blame Russia!

Beyond the ridiculousness of this nonsensical lie, there is actually plenty of video evidence of Russians firing on civilians ( 1,2,3, to name a few WARNING GRAPHIC)

Beyond that, there is plenty of satellite data, witness testimony, and even Russians themselves bragging about targeting civilians on intercepted phone calls.

This is not to say Ukraine has not been responsible for any civilian casualties, as Russians prevent them from leaving captured areas and essentially turn them into human shields. This was a frequently reported during the siege of Mariupol. Of course, the Russians accused Ukrainian forces of this as well, even staging propaganda videos. But since Russia was the force preforming the siege, and had the upper hand in the invasion at that point, they held the cards, not Ukraine.

Indeed, 100% of all casualties of this invasion, civilian or otherwise, could have been prevented by Russia simply not invading Ukraine. People forget this.

11. *Insert American/NATO war crimes*

While there have certainly been plenty of actions that can be considered criminal by literally every country that has ever existed, including NATO members, this is simply deflection via whataboutism.

It’s not relevant to the genocidal actions the Russian regime has undertaken in Ukraine. The majority of conflicts NATO countries have recently been involved in have had a multitude of parties who did their share of slaughtering. The Taliban, ISIL, local government forces, etc. Yes, it can be argued NATO nations have exacerbated certain existing conflicts, but they have not decided to start one entirely for their own benefit.

NATO also has never invaded to commit cultural genocide and seize territory for themselves. Well… except Turkey in Syria… That’s a whole other can of worms that should perhaps make other NATO members question Turkey’s membership.

One really has to go back to the era of colonialism to find something comparable in the West to what Putin’s doing… or Nazi Germany.

12. Russia is winning despite being up against all of NATO.

Without any NATO boots on the ground, Russia has lost over half of the territory it captured at their high point in March. That includes Kherson city, the only regional capital it managed to capture since February.

Without any NATO boots on the ground, Russia has seen their initial wave of troops decimated. To the point of needing to force hundreds of thousands of conscripts to replenish the front line. Troops that are so poorly trained and equipped that videos of discontent and even full out insubordination are becoming more commonplace. [1,2,3]

It’s true that NATO countries are providing plenty of arms and other resources making a significant difference in the fight but we must remember none of this is free. Ukraine is on the hook for every cent of international assistance provided, just like any country purchasing arms and other materials abroad. It just might take them a bit longer to repay, which is totally understandable given the circumstances.

This does not mean Russia can’t or won’t win but on the ground right now it is blatantly obvious they are struggling. The cracks are even apparent in Russian media, which as previously discussed, is pretty significant given the risk.

13. Ukraine/West must negotiate with Russia for peace!

That was a great idea… back in February. Now hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are dead, villages reduced to rubble, and millions more have fled their homeland. You really expect Ukraine to negotiate more concessions when they’ve already lost so much?

Then there is the small issue of Ukraine kicking Russia’s ass right now, as has already been established. Russia didn’t budge at the negotiating table back when they had the upper hand, why should Ukraine?

Putin succeeded in Chechnya, which emboldened him to invade Georgia. That success emboldened him to invade Ukraine. A victory here will just embolden him to make bigger gambles, perhaps even invade NATO territory, if he’s able to win against NATO weapons. It would be seen in Russia as a victory against NATO, even if it really wasn’t. This would, of course, result in World War III.

Putin must lose. He has carried over the Soviet cult of victory, a loss is the best hope to break it and lead Russia down the path of cultural healing. Additionally, a loss would also cripple Russia’s military capabilities, meaning they wouldn’t be able to launch such an invasion again in a very long time. They are already getting to that point now, as they send countless personnel and equipment into the meat grinder. The longer Russia takes to recover from this the longer the world is safer from Russian aggression.

14. The referendums were legitimate & the people clearly want to join Russia!

Imagine an election completely ran and observed by one side. Where voters were intimidated with men with weapons to vote a certain way. Where demonstrating support for the other side could lead to arrest or disappearance.

You don’t have to imagine, this is literally what happened. These “referendums” were no more legitimate than any election in Russia, where Putin infamously has any legitimate opponents jailed or coincidentally being unable to run (due to death, disqualification, etc). Thus, any vote put on by Russia should be immediately suspect.

Additionally, with all the media coming showing mass jubilation in territories freed from Russian occupation, the claimed referendum results are even harder to believe. Are you really prepared to discount the will of all these people because an authoritarian regime put out some likely made up numbers? We can see these people with our own eyes. Meanwhile, there is zero transparency in any of these Russian referendums.

15. We shouldn’t send money to Ukraine when our own people don’t have healthcare, education, etc!

This is perhaps the only real legitimate argument here, so much so, it can hardly even be considered propaganda. At least in America, where this point is really the only place in the West it stands. Yet it is here because this argument is almost never used in good faith, usually to sow more division in America and deflect away from Russia.

Consider the fact other countries are giving plenty to Ukraine as well while also funding universal healthcare and education systems at home. It shouldn’t be an either or situation. Especially for the richest country in the history of the world.

Also, does anyone actually think the American system will suddenly improve if Ukraine is cut off? It was a mess before, it’s going to be a mess either way. At least this way, America gets to be a part of doing something positive for the world and global democracy. Something that is rare for a nation that is awash in a history of poor foreign policy decisions. Let’s not get caught up in a fallacy whereby because of a string of errors, this automatically becomes one as well. We must be more nuanced than that.

Remember, Russia losing means Russia will still probably exist, but as less of a threat to the world. Ukraine losing means not only will it, and it’s democracy, be gone, but Russia will be empowered to aim even higher.

If Democracy is to survive and thrive into the future, the nations who value it cannot stand by and watch even flawed democracies fall into authoritarianism. Anything that can happen abroad can happen anywhere, January 6th 2021 should have made that abundantly clear…