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Fighting Russian Propaganda

When the war first started, I made a video series on some of the biggest lies that Russia was telling its people. Unfortunately, these stories have crept into American media as well, which is why I am continuing to fight it by spreading the truth. I’ve turned those videos into a blogpost so it’s easier to go through and updated some of the information as we’ve learned more. Please feel free to share.

Lie #1: Ukraine Has Been Oppressing and Killing People Who Speak Russian, Especially in Donetsk and Luhansk.

The official language of Ukraine is Ukrainian, but many people still speak Russian as a result of centuries of oppression against the Ukrainian language. This is especially true the further east you travel, closer to the Russian border. It has been a hot topic and at times controversial issue in the past as to what language you choose to speak and/or learn. But for the most part, people understand the history and know that older generations especially will mostly speak Russian. Back in DTS, my roommate from Kyiv only spoke Russian, so that’s the language we choose to learn. Occasionally we’ve gotten some slack for it, but after explaining the situation most people understand. And certainly, nobody is being killed for speaking Russian. The Ukrainian constitution guarantees the right of its citizens to learn and speak any language they choose. This was important to them since Russians had been killing them for speaking Ukrainian for centuries.

Lie #2: Russia is Liberating Ukraine From Nazis

This is based in a small truth. Ukraine has been called a trouble spot for anti-semitism activities in the past. And the Azov Battalion of Ukraine did have a group of Nazis. But since then, especially since Zelensky was elected, they have worked very hard on clearing this type of ideology from both their ranks and other areas of Ukrainian culture. Many people in Ukraine were shocked when they heard this lie because there really isn’t a huge problem anymore. And it’s not like they’re sending in a force to take out a specific group; they’re bombing the entire country and specifically targeting President Zelensky, who is Jewish. Ukraine is the only country outside of Israel for their two most powerful members of government (president and prime minister) to be Jewish. Once people started pointing out this fact, Russia tried to defend their actions by claiming that even Hitler had Jewish blood. This outlandish declaration caused Israel to increase their aid to Ukraine, and their relationship with Russia is extremely rocky at the moment. Russia has further tried to say that Zelensky is gay, which again is very much not true, nor a valid reason to attack another country.

President Zelensky and his family during happier times.

Lie #3: Russia is Not Firing on Civilian Targets (And if it Does it was Accidental)

Pretty much everyone knows by now that this is false. The Geneva Convention specifically prohibits attacks on civilians, hospitals, nuclear power plants, and more. There are currently over 10,000 individual cases being investigated as war crimes, most of which includes firing on civilians. This isn’t just a bomb dropped from a plane that blew off target either. This is tanks firing directly at civilian apartments, kindergartens, bomb shelters, and blood banks. This is soldiers shooting people and cars trying to escape. This is shelling maternity hospitals across the country, resulting in many deaths of women and newborn babies. This is hundreds of cases from Bucha of people reporting they were raped and tortured, with even more bodies found in mass graves with evidence of the same. Including children and toddlers. There is proof that the Russian soldiers physically blocked and prohibited ambulances from reaching injured and dying civilians. They have repeatedly broken the ceasefire and prevented safe evacuation from Mariupol for weeks now. There are hundreds of video evidence by now that you can find on the internet. If you say you haven’t seen any, you aren’t looking. We have plenty that we can show you if you’re really in denial about this, including some graphic ones that are clearly not photoshopped or deep-faked.

Lie #4: Ukraine is Bombing Itself

First of all, products from Russia look very different from Ukrainian products. This includes the military uniforms, weapons, food, and other supplies. We have found evidence of many products that are only manufactured in Russia. There are several code words the army uses to tell a soldier’s nationality because Russians cannot pronounce certain Ukrainian words with their accents. We know Russian soldiers have entered Ukraine. That’s not really contested by this point. Secondly, Ukraine has only been its own country for about 30 years. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the economy was devastated. And they were just starting to get it rebuilt when their corrupt president stole money from the treasury and fled to Russia. They don’t have a lot of money to waste on bombing their own infrastructure, forcing shops to close for safety, preventing tourists from visiting, and causing millions to be displaced or forced to leave the country altogether. It’s not a ploy to get Russia to pay either; that takes a lot of time and evidence of war crimes to get retribution. And even if they do get a large sum rather quickly, it will still take decades to rebuild and repair the damages done in only a few months.

There are clear differences in how the Ukrainian soldiers act vs the Russian soldiers. The Ukrainians protect and risk their lives, even for pets and animals. In Bucha and Irpin they have found evidence of dogs and chickens senselessly slaughtered for fun. Russian soldiers rape, torture, and murder civilians and captured soldiers. Ukrainian soldiers treat their wounds, let them call home, and treat them with dignity. And then there’s how they treat nuclear power plants. Apparently, some Russian soldiers don’t even know about the Chornobyl disaster, including the ones who actually took over the plant and believed that it was safe. They went to the worst radioactive zones despite warnings from the staff. Many have already died from radiation poisoning, and the rest probably will die shortly if they haven’t already. Not to mention the carelessness of bombs and missiles that fly over the nuclear power plants like Zaporizhzhia across the country, and some skirmishes that have resulted in fires at the plants themselves. Ukraine knows how much of an impact a nuclear disaster can have, and they won’t risk it again.

Sweet baby Sashenko. You didn’t deserve what they did to you.

Lie #5: Ukraine Wants to Be Part of Russia Again (At Least Some Regions)

Like I explained in my Texas Analogy video, there are some people who have conflicted feelings, especially along the border. Especially when you have family on both sides or grew up ethnically Russian but living in Ukrainian territory, it’s bound to be complicated. They didn’t get to choose where the border was drawn. There was a small separatist movement that has been fighting to be reunified with Russia since 2014, but honestly at this point we don’t even know how many are actually from Ukraine and how many are actually Russian agents. For the most part, Ukrainians absolutely do not want to be a part of Russia again. Look at how hard they’re fighting! Even in Russian-speaking cities like Kherson, which are mostly under occupational control at this point, people are continuing to protest. They march with Ukrainian flags and stare down soldiers at gunpoint. They know what it’s like to be under Russian control and they DO. NOT. WANT. THAT. AGAIN.

A small snapshot of a much larger protest. The sign reads “Kherson is Ukraine. Ukraine United! Glory to Ukraine!”

Lie#6: Ukraine Attacked and Provoked Russia (Russia was Just Defending Itself)

This is only true if you believe that Donetsk, Luhansk, Crimea, and other contested areas belong equivocally to Russia and Russia alone. While it is hard to draw the lines of countries and make everyone happy (ok, that’s impossible), those regions were assigned to Ukrainian territory. They belonged to Ukraine. Putin had no right to declare Donetsk and Luhansk as independent territories, and even then, it didn’t make it Russian land. Ukraine defended its territory. We also know that there were some false flag operations staged by Russia to make it look like Ukraine had attacked them. But Ukraine did not attack Russian land prior to February 24th, 2022. What Ukrainians have always wanted is to just live a normal, peaceful life without war and oppression. That is why they wanted to join NATO and the EU. They wanted protection from Russia, because all throughout their history Russia has attacked them. Putin claims that their wanting to join NATO is what provoked the attack, but the truth is, if he hadn’t been bullying Ukraine for over 8 years now, they wouldn’t have needed to seek out protection. Ukraine is only a threat to Russia because they are living and thriving freely outside of Putin’s control.

Lie #7: This is All the United States/the West’s Fault (Thanks Biden)

Did the United States, especially the media, make the situation worse in the beginning, when everyone was speculating on when Putin would attack? Possibly. But I think this is exactly what Putin wanted them to do. I think he wanted them to “provoke” so he could have a good excuse. He also knew that he could probably get away with a good bit with Biden as president. Biden was VP during the 2014 invasion, and he didn’t handle the situation very well. But ultimately, the U.S. didn’t hold a gun to Putin’s head and force him to give the order to attack. This war is based in a very long history of oppression against Ukraine. The United States is not to blame for this. Neither is NATO. And certainly not Ukraine. Russia is the only one responsible for this.

Lie #8: Ukraine is Corrupt and Therefore is Not Worth Saving

Of course, Ukraine struggles with corruption. I am not denying that fact. So does pretty much every other country in the world. And especially post-Soviet countries who are still trying to get out of decades of Soviet-era ideals and behaviors. But Ukraine has been really, really trying to change this. Even we have seen improvements since we first went there in 2017. Either way, this is not a reason to invade another country. Russia has just as much if not more corruption within their own land. They should maybe think about removing the stick from their own eye before removing the log from their brother’s.

Tulsi Gabbard also released a video early on in the war days talking about President Zelensky. I won’t do her the satisfaction of linking her video here, but basically, she claimed that Zelensky threw his political opponent in jail in order to win the election and also shut down 3 news stations that were against him politically. Every time I bring this up to a Ukrainian friend, they look at me like I’m crazy, because these statements are absolutely ludicrous…but they are rooted in some truth, which is why they’re so confusing and damaging. Zelensky’s political opponent was Poroshenko, who had already served one term in office. They were the 2 candidates with the most votes after the first round of the election, so they went head-to-head for round 2. Zelensky won with an astonishing and unheard of 73.22% of the vote! People in Ukraine were thrilled, and it was very clear they supported him. They were tired of politicians and thought comedian and actor Zelensky would be the best chance at fighting corruption. After he won the election and got into office, he hammered down hard on investigations trying to weed out the corruption. And in the process, people discovered that Poroshenko had done some illegal deals with none other than Russia. So, he was placed on house arrest and was awaiting trial when the war broke out. And as for the TV stations, they were all spouting pro-Russian propaganda and wanting one of the old presidents (you know, the one who stole money from the treasury) to return to power. Zelensky considered it to be dangerous wartime propaganda (since Russia had attacked in 2014) and shut them down. It was more than “we don’t like you,” it was a security risk. You can’t be angry at the corruption in a country and then also be angry when people are held accountable for that.

These are some of the biggest lies that have come from Russia. Check out my list of reliable sources for news. Let me know if you’d like to learn more about these or if you’ve heard of other things that you would like addressed. And please share. Ukraine needs it. The truth deserves to be told.

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