Foreign Policy Research Institute

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Foreign Policy Research Institute

tel. +38 (044) 287 52 58

UN as a platform for spreading fakes and misinformation about Ukraine


Even before the start of armed aggression against Ukraine, Russia resorted to information war, laying the foundation for a further military invasion. Having significant informational opportunities inside its state and abroad, the Russian Federation continues to disseminate false information about the events around the occupation of Crimea and part of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, tries to discredit the Ukrainian government and the armed forces, and also manipulates about the nature of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, spreading a narrative about the alleged civil war in Ukraine. In addition to the methods of informational support of military aggression with the help of the media, Russia used and continues to use international platforms to promote its own narratives. The United Nations has become one of such platforms.

Recently, Russia has been trying especially actively to use the Arria format for its propaganda purposes. Arria meetings are very informal, confidential meetings that allow the members of the Security Council to have a private, open exchange of views with persons whom the inviting member or members of the Council believe it would be beneficial to hear. The purpose of this format is to address issues that relate exclusively to international peace and security. However, this does not prevent Russia from holding meetings in this format with representatives of the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk republics, as well as those involved in the government of former pro-Russian President Viktor to disseminate false information about the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

In particular, on December 2, 2020, a discussion was held, in which representatives of the quasi-republics and the Ukrainian political consultant Mikhail Pogrebinsky, who lives and works in Moscow, and, according to Russia, allegedly represented the Ukrainian side, took part. The representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Vasily Nebenzya acted as a moderator in this event. After that, Russia abused the Arria format several times. At first, it was an attempt to speculate on the events that took place in Odesa on May 2. The Russian side attracted «witnesses» and «participants» of the events, most of whom are criminals and are hiding from the law enforcement agencies of Ukraine in the territories controlled by the Russian Federation or in Russia. And then, in June, a discussion was organized under the title «Circumstances of the Maidan and the Consequences in Donbas», to which the Russian Federation invited the former Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov, who is under US sanctions, the former people's deputy, from the Party of Regions Oleg Tsarev, who contributed to the Russian occupation of Donbas in 2014, and the former deputy from the Party of Regions Vladimir Oliynyk. All three persons are at large in Russia.

Thus, the Russian Federation is trying to convince the international community that there is in fact «a civil war» in Donbas, where local «rebels» are conducting armed resistance after a coup d'etat organized in Kyiv by the United States. Instead of constructive actions aimed at a peaceful settlement of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Moscow continues to try to absolve itself of responsibility for military aggression against Ukraine, to legitimize the so-called «LDPR», forcing Kyiv to direct talks with the leaders of quasi-republics, which are in fact completely controlled by the Kremlin. It is worth noting that each such meeting is actively covered by the Russian media inside the Russian Federation and in the occupied territories, which is used to form a misconception among the population that the leaders of the LDPR have subjectivity at the international level.

Ukraine and its international partners, in turn, strongly condemn every attempt to spread Russian disinformation within the United Nations in joint statements. In particular, in May, Great Britain, Estonia, Ireland, Norway, the United States and France, as well as Germany and Belgium, issued a joint statement on the inadmissibility of Russia's actions within the UN, calling it the promotion of a false narrative about Ukraine, and also called on Russia to stop politicizing human tragedies.[1] It can be stated that among the civilized countries there is a certain fatigue from the counter-productive and manipulative actions of Russia in the form of organizing such discussions. Indicative in this regard was the statement of the representative of France, who said in June that he took part in the event only in order to once again emphasize that Russia is abusing its right to initiate these informal meetings and to support Ukraine and its sovereignty. He added that France does not support Russian narratives and calls on Moscow to stop provocations, withdraw its troops from East of Ukraine, and return Crimea.[2]

The United Nations is the platform where Ukraine can be heard and can convey to the international community the truth about the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Given the asymmetry in information capabilities between the two countries, the hybrid war waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine requires significant efforts from Ukrainian diplomacy to counter Kremlin propaganda. An important task is to preserve the unity of international partners around the issue of the occupation of Ukrainian territories and counter the subversive activities of the Russian Federation, which abuses the status of a permanent member of the Security Council and spreads its own narratives, in particular, by attracting its puppets to the Arria format. The Kremlin's actions aimed at legitimizing quasi-formations, distancing itself from the conflict and portraying Ukraine as an aggressor, should be met with decisive joint resistance from the Ukrainian delegation and its international partners.