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Since February 24, 2022, Detector Media has been monitoring the Ukrainian segment of social media as well as the Kremlin’s media and documenting the chronicle of Russian disinformation about Russia’s war against Ukraine daily. Over time, we started making regular reviews. Check out the latest ones here: July 31 – August 5, August 7-12, August 14-19, August 21-27, August 28 — September 2, September 4 -10, September 11-17, and September 18-24. You can also get an overview of the most ridiculous fakes of the year of the full-scale Russian invasion and the final text for ten months after the Russian invasion.
Between September 25 and 30, 2023, Detector Media analysts recorded 26 disinformation attacks. During this time, fake news makers claimed that the European Union was allegedly sending NATO troops to Ukraine to fight against Russia. The propagandists also slandered Western institutions, calling the International Court of Justice a “biased proxy of the West.”
“Let’s Talk About Ukraine”
In the initial days of the last week of September, anonymous Telegram channels were abuzz with a particular fake claim. They spread a rumor that the German fast-food chain Burgermeister, in their advertisement, supposedly encouraged discussions “about something more significant than Ukraine” — specifically, their “new range of delicious and juicy burgers.” Accompanying these posts was a screenshot allegedly taken from the commercial.
However, the video was fabricated. Propagandists stitched together various news clips about Ukraine and inserted an authentic Burgermeister advertisement, which is featured on the company’s official website’s homepage. Representatives from Burgermeister clarified that they did not release any advertisement concerning Ukraine and had no involvement in the creation of this “commercial.”
“As Always, the Incompetent West”
On September 18, 2023, The International Court of Justice in the Hague (ICJ) began hearings on Ukraine’s lawsuit against Russia for violating the Genocide Convention. In response, Russian media spread a message claiming that the ICJ was “biased” and that its judgment would be highly “politicized” and not in Moscow’s favor, as “everything had already been decided upon.”
Such tactics primarily aim at relieving Russia of its accountability for the crimes it committed and conveying the impression that “everyone is against Russia.” In the ICJ, Ukrainian human rights defenders are trying to prove that the Russian narrative of a “genocide in the Donbas” is false and cannot justify aggression. Russia, still seeking justification for the full-scale invasion, initiated war on the pretext of the fabled “genocide,” hence trying to deny the act of genocide against the Ukrainian people, having launched an unprovoked war, and, as usual, is trying to redeem itself using propagandistic tactics.
The ICJ is an independent institution that makes decisions without interference from third parties. The United Nations Joint Commission is responsible for investigating and documenting Russian crimes. The Commission has previously presented a report detailing Russians’ crimes against Ukrainians, including murder, illegal detention, torture, rape, other forms of sexual violence, and the illegal transfer and deportation of children. So, the claim that there is no evidence of the Russian army’s crimes is false. Although Erik Møse, head of the UN’s international commission investigating violations in Ukraine, stated that there isn’t sufficient proof at the moment to acknowledge the act of genocide in Ukraine, the investigation continues. He mentioned earlier that “some of the rhetoric transmitted in Russian state and other media may constitute incitement to genocide.”
Labeling various institutions as “incompetent” or “biased,” authors of Russian propaganda strive to showcase that the West is making utterly incorrect decisions about Russia, which allegedly is innocent. The Kremlin behaved similarly when it protested against the imposition of an arrest on Putin by the International Criminal Court.
“Waffen-SS Galicia Division on a Postage Stamp”
Disinformation peddlers spread a fake claim that Ukrposhta, the national postal service of Ukraine, supposedly released a stamp featuring an image of Yaroslav Hunko, a veteran of the Waffen-SS Galicia Division. Alleged images of such a stamp were attached to the messages.
However, the image of the stamp with Yaroslav Hunko was fabricated using photo editing software. The Ukrposhta never issued a postage stamp like this, a fact that can be verified on their official website under the Postage Stamps section. The CEO of the postal service, Ihor Smiliansky, stated that the latest stamp announced by Ukrposhta in September features images of the Challenger 2, Leopard 2, Patriot, CAESAR, and M2 Bradley military vehicles. Named “Weapons of Victory. The World with Ukraine,” this stamp is already available for pre-order. There has been no information published by the national postal service about a stamp featuring Yaroslav Hunko.
By the way, you can find out more about Hunko’s appearance in the Canadian parliament and how he caused the speaker’s resignation here.
“NATO Troops Already in Ukraine”
We have documented a fake story claiming that Russians on the battlefield had destroyed a Leopard tank with a German crew, implying the presence of German soldiers in Ukraine. The publications referenced the words of a Russian invader.
However, the propagandists provided no evidence to support this information, aside from the words of the Russian invader, which also lacked substantiation. The German Defense Ministry also denied the presence of German tank crews in Ukraine.
Propagandists intentionally exaggerate the number of “destroyed” equipment, insinuating the supposed low combat readiness of the Ukrainian army.
In our “Newspeak” column, we described the Russian phenomenon of “invincible equipment.” In short, this is how Russians attempt to convince the domestic audience of constant “victories” and emphasize the “technological superiority” of their equipment.
“The Satanic Azov”
Disinformers also spread a fake story claiming that fighters of the Azov Brigade indulge in satanic rituals. As proof, the authors included supposed photos of the “satanic act.”
However, the photos depict a memorial ceremony for fallen warriors — a tradition of the Azov fighters, commemorated every year on September 22. On their social media pages, they wrote that they “celebrate the Day of the Dead, remembering all the fallen Azov fighters who gave their lives for the freedom of the Homeland.” Essentially, nothing prohibited occurred during these events. Days of remembrance for the fallen are observed in most of the world’s religions. Many of the unit’s customs are associated with ancient Slavic holidays, hence the choice of the equinox day for commemoration.
“Nazism in the Blood”
Stories circulated on Russian social media claiming Ukrainian refugees in Europe exhibit “Nazi tendencies.” To substantiate this claim, they alleged a Ukrainian barista offers Europeans coffee with a latte art swastika design. All this supposedly happens in a German town, with alleged video proof added to the publications.
In reality, the video is an advertisement for online latte art courses in Bolivia, and it contains no references to Ukrainians. The propagandists simply used a video clip from the Instagram page of a coffee shop. In the comments, users joke and make references to Nazism. Neither the Instagram page nor the video has any connection to Ukrainians.
Screenshot from the Bolivian coffee shop’s Instagram page
“More Destruction of Headquarters of NATO and Other Enemies”
Another fake has been circulated on social media, especially on anonymous Telegram channels that broadcast pro-Kremlin rhetoric, claiming that the Russians had allegedly destroyed the Ukrainian Navy’s headquarters located in the Odesa Kempinski Hotel during the attack on the Odesa region on September 25, 2023.
On that day, Russia attacked Odesa with nineteen Shahed loitering munitions. According to the investigation, significant damage was inflicted on the Odesa seaport and a nearby hotel. However, the propagandists failed to provide any evidence to support their claim that security forces were stationed within these civilian infrastructure facilities. They employed the typical rhetoric about “NATO/Ukrainian military headquarters” to justify themselves.
“Nothing Can Help Ukraine Now”
By the week’s end, propagandists circulated manipulative statements allegedly made by Kyrylo Budanov, the Chief of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine. They claimed he “admitted” that the presence of foreign weapons “does not change the situation on the front.” He specifically mentioned Abrams tanks and the future delivery of long-range ATACMS missiles and was quoted with references to his interview with The War Zone portal.
However, in reality, Budanov stated, “If there are a hundred missiles, it won’t change the situation.” He implied that Ukraine needed more weapons. This was his response to a question about the number of missiles the USA could supply to Ukraine.
The propagandists distorted the context, presenting it as if Ukraine was “losing,” so there was no need for weapons that would supposedly make no difference.
Collage by Detector Media