Russian Disinfo Digest, 21/06

Margarita Simonyan 

Victor Litovkin

Alexander Kazakov

Margarita Simonyan, the Head of Russia’s state-funded media outlet RT, promotes the Russian government’s propaganda narrative in the Russian Disinfo Digest of 21/06 by conjuring up assassination stories to convince the Russian people that Putin has a red line, despite these responses being mere fantasies. According to Simonyan, Putin’s remarks about F-16s stationed outside Ukrainian borders indicate that Russia is willing to escalate the conflict beyond Ukraine’s borders and into NATO territory. 

Russian propagandist and military observer Victor Litovkin criticizes Ukraine and NATO for sacrificing lives for personal gain, exaggerates casualty figures, and suggests Ukraine wait for F-16s before launching a counter-offensive. 

Another Russian propagandist, Alexander Kazakov, discusses eliminating leaders within the ‘Kyiv regime’ and expresses concern about Ukraine’s ongoing offensive in Zaporizhzhia

Margarita Simonyan

Editor-in-chief of the Russian state-controlled broadcaster RT

In one of her most recent videos, Simonyan responds to (what she views as) some of her viewers’ most pressing questions. In this digest, we will analyze three of them.

  1. Will the war spread into Europe and turn into a major conflict?

“In short, yes,” Simonyan responds. 

She cuts to a clip of Putin responding to a question about the delivery of F-16s while speaking at the SPIEF. She tells how Putin did not directly answer whether the war would spread, “but if you listen carefully, he says yes.” 

“If the West and Ukraine base F-16s outside Ukrainian borders and use them to strike into Russian territory, we must think about how we can take these out as we must eliminate any threat that is being used in Ukraine against us.” tells Putin.  

Margarita then puts the question to herself – whether Ukraine will be given F-16s. “Of course they will,” she responds. “They will be handed over just like the leopards and all the rest was.” 

However, she describes how, according to experts citing a variety of Western sources, “Ukraine lacks an airfield from which the F-16s can operate, so they will take off from airfields elsewhere rather than in Ukraine.” 

“Yes, if F-16s take off from a different aerodrome in a different country and launch missiles at our country we will respond”

As a result, in her opinion and based on what she takes from Putin’s speech, Russia has no issue in escalating, striking beyond Ukraine’s borders and potentially into NATO territory if F-16s are given to Ukraine. 

  1. The actual aim and scope of the ‘Special Military Operation.’

Simonyan tells:

“The goal and tasks are determined by the possibilities at hand. For example, if you were to ask Stalin in 1941, ‘What are the goals and tasks of the Great Patriotic war?’ I doubt he would say that the goal is to reach Berlin. Because the aim and task of the war at the time was to liberate our homeland.”

“The aims of the special military operation, as pragmatic as it sounds, will depend on the opportunities that arise, as the president stated himself.”

She switched to a clip in which Putin met with Russian military journalists, when one of these journalists posed the exact same question, to which Putin replied,  “It all depends on where we are after the Ukrainians finish their so-called counter-offensive.

Many experts, following Putin’s meeting with military journalists, raised concerns about whether Putin has been accurately informed about the situation on the ground due to his confident optimism. 

This skepticism is not new; since the start of the full-scale invasion, there have been doubts about Putin receiving unbiased information due to his subordinates’ fear of delivering bad news – common in a dictatorship. This therefore shows that much of the Russian population are also questioning the very essence of the ‘SMO’, although Simonyan fails to understand why, telling how everytime this question is posed, she is shocked.

  1. “Why don’t we respond and retaliate when they cross our “red line?’”

“Why not bomb the decision-making center? Why don’t we stage any major strikes that aren’t intended to send a symbolic message?”  – Questions Simonyan receives from her audience.

She starts off by reminding us that this is not quite correct, Russia does in fact respond. She reminds the audience of the  alleged strike  on the (Ukrainian) GUR military intelligence personnel. 

This is a classic Russian disinformation campaign aimed at sowing panic among Ukrainians, and it’s been ongoing for weeks, that is, Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, ‘was injured or even killed in a Russian airstrike.’ 

“This is the same Budanov who coordinates and directs terrorist attacks against our country, such as those on Daria Dugan. Since the strike on May 22nd, he hasn’t even shown himself in public.”

Ukraine has given these claims little interest, just as they did with the allegations of Zalyunzhi’s injury/death weeks before,, which, unsurprisingly, turned out to be false. Both Budanov and Zaluzhny have been seen in public since. Budanov was photographed with foreign politicians (20/6) therefore disproving this propaganda narrative. 

Although imonyan’s telegram response maintained her skepticism, wondering how someone could “stand in two photos with the same finger position and clothing creases.” Instead, she continued the disinformation campaign by comparing the image to a spot-the-difference game, implying that it was fake or AI-generated.

Victor Litovkin

Journalist and Military Observer 


In an interview on Solovievlive, Litovkin attempts to portray Ukraine as a hostage to NATO standards, accusing NATO of ignoring Ukraine’s national interests. He claims that Ukrainian soldiers are being forced to fight, with Ukrainian politicians and military leaders using their own people as pawns for American and NATO gains.

“Ukrainian military leaders threaten men by saying, ‘We know where your family and children are, and if you care about their well-being, you must do what we say.'”

Such claims seek to create a victim narrative and portray Ukraine as a country manipulated by external forces, portraying Ukrainian soldiers as victims of their own government, adding to the narrative of alleged oppression in Ukraine.


Litovkin cites military losses figures, suggesting the actual casualty count among Ukrainians in Ukraine is much higher than reported. According to Litovkin, NATO countries have themselves reported up to 350,000 Ukrainian deaths, claiming that for every reported death, there are 3-4 injured, making his suggested figures much higher.

“There could be approximately one million casualties, specifically young, healthy Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 50.”

It is important to note that such exaggerated figures are not supported by independent sources. In fact, he ignores Russia’s higher death toll, which is said to be three times higher.

3. According to Litovkin, if Ukraine were to follow military principles, it should wait for the delivery of F-16 fighter jets before launching a counter-offensive.

He claims that “Ukraine is under pressure to demonstrate that NATO’s investment was not wasted.” 

While he is correct, air support is critical, Ukraine cannot afford to wait any longer to liberate its territory while Russia is given additional time to fortify its defenses.

Alexander Kazakov

Propagandist and politician


In his remarks in a conversation on Solovievlive, Russian propagandist and politician Alexander Kazakov discusses the implications of eliminating specific leaders from the ‘Kyiv regime’. Kazakov shares his thoughts on Budanov, Zaluzhny, and Syrskyi, highlighting their perceived effectiveness and potential risks and why those he deems ‘inept leaders’ should stay in post.

“We do not benefit from eliminating the bad leaders of the ‘Kyiv regime.’ Budanov, the Director General of Intelligence, is inept. However, Zaluzhny is  dangerous. Syrsky is not competent, and the individuals in charge of the offensive in Zaporizhzhia are even worse. Interestingly, this could work in our favor.”

He also examines the ongoing offensive in Zaporizhzhia, emphasizing the consequences of military mistakes, although the specific mistakes are not specified. 

“I believe Zaluzhny should have halted the offensive long ago, as he possesses the necessary authority and judgment.”

“According to the principle of war, mistakes made at the start of an offensive cannot easily be corrected during the operation. They tend to escalate, so it is crucial to stop and reassess. However, they seem determined to continue and will likely self-destruct right before our eyes.”

It’s worth noting that Kazakov’s viewpoint seems contradictory at best, given that it was Russia that made the catastrophic mistake of invading Ukraine. It would have, therefore, made more sense for Kazakov to critique the failures of the Russian military and its ineffective generals within the first three days, aligning with the military principle he mentioned, which suggests withdrawing if initial mistakes occur.