Russian Disinformation Digest: Ukraine’s Peace Summit in the Scope of Fire

Written by Matt Wickham, UCMC/HWAG analyst

Last week (10–16 of June), the global community and key figures gathered to discuss global security. The focal point was Ukraine.

Despite the emergence of new conflicts in the Middle East, which could have shifted attention entirely from Ukraine, and the fact that the year has been dubbed “the year of elections”, with many of the world’s most GDP-rich countries holding national, presidential, and parliamentary elections, support for Ukraine is seen to remain firmly on the agenda. This is, for sure, a notable success.

The week began with the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Germany (11-12) and the G7 summit (13-14) and concluded with the Ukraine Peace Summit in Switzerland (15–16), cementing an international consensus and overwhelming majority support for Ukraine’s defence.

In response, the Kremlin mobilised its propaganda apparatus to discredit, downplay, and distort the results long before the week even began. The aim – to portray these achievements as failures, disappointing, and a joke.

 Russian Narrative  : “The summit was a failure. Where’s Biden?! Where’s the UN GenSec?”

Verified: In the weeks leading up to the summit, Russian Telegram channels and Kremlin propagandists devoted considerable attention to the event, preemptively attempting to frame it as a failure. The summit was designed to demonstrate to the world that the overwhelming majority of the international community stands with Ukraine in its defense and aims to reclaim its territories occupied by Russia. This narrative was undermined through several tactics.

Firstly, propaganda highlighted President Biden’s and the UN Secretary-General’s absence, portrayed as yet another deafening blow to Zelensky. Secondly, they focused on the refusal of several countries’ participation, influenced and under-pressure by the Chinese government not to participate, thereby attempting to undermine the summit’s legitimacy and objectives. 

The word “failure” was thrown about in propaganda channels, weeks before the commencement of the summit, in order to assure  the Russian people that Ukraine and the West have failed in their confrontation with Russia and that international support around Ukraine has been broken.

These portrayals were somewhat easy for the Kremlin to spin considering Zelensky, prior to the summit, told reporters how he believed Biden’s attendance is crucial. Vitali Portnikov, a Ukrainian journalist, downplayed the significance of Biden’s absence in an interview on Radio Liberty, suggesting that the media has exaggerated the issue. He explained that despite Biden being in Europe during the week, it was not a snub… 

“Is this a refusal? I don’t think so, and I’ll repeat that Ukraine is not at the center of all these election campaigns. The central goal is for Biden to successfully develop a campaign that can compete with Trump’s. If there is a legitimate opportunity to take money from somewhere, he will go there. Biden will meet Zelensky in Berlin and then in France [before the summit as part of the G7 meeting and rebuilding Ukraine Summit]; how many more times in one week does he need to meet with the president of the United States to demonstrate his support to Ukraine?”

Sergei Markov (69,000 followers):

“There were as many as 4 failures: 1) There is no ultimatum to Russia. 2) China and dozens of other countries didn’t come at all. 3) Almost all southern countries didn’t vote for the absolutely stupid resolution. 4) Realizing it was a failure, almost no real country leaders attended. Even the organizer, Biden, refused. Only the losers Macron, Scholz, Sunak, and some minor puppets were made to come… A total failure. An embarrassment.”

Legitimacy (1,044,000 followers):

“The conference in Switzerland is Zelensky’s fiasco. It’s like a ‘grand farewell/send-off’ before his ‘retirement/exit,’ whichever happens.”

Zakhar Prilepin (294,000 followers):

“And the most interesting thing: the online attention to the summit was also at rock bottom. The Western public is sick of the Ukrainian issue, and people are starting to avoid it—views on YouTube rarely exceeded a couple of thousand.”

Golos Mordora (166,000 followers):

“By the way, a decent number of participants in the ‘peace summit’ in Switzerland don’t even know where Ukraine is or what’s actually going on. So Joe Biden would have looked quite appropriate there.”

Golos Mordora (166,000 followers):

“Some Ukrainian sources are writing that Volodymyr Zelensky is very pleased with the ‘peace summit’ in Switzerland. They say many countries were gathered, and it was quite large-scale and representative. It seems that for Mr. Hetman, the sports principle applies here—it’s not about winning, but participating, and the results of this summit don’t matter at all.”

Mardan (244,000 followers):

“In general, there is no global majority, no matter how you look at it. From the perspective of corporate management, the project is a complete failure. No self-sufficiency, no market share, no prospects. Zelensky is a loser. HR has already posted the ‘president of Ukraine’ vacancy on”

Sergei Markov (69,000 followers):

“The leaders who came to the summit […] They look like fools. A huge humiliation. No wonder Biden refused to come.”

 Russian Narrative  : “A failure in the votes – Proof Ukraine is Alone.”

Verified: With participation from 101 countries and international organizations, including representation from all continents (and three BRICS members) the summit could most certainly be considered a success. The primary aim was to unite the international community and demonstrate that Ukraine remains a priority on the global agenda 2.5 years into the war. 

The later message that Iraq, Jordan, and Rwanda had withdrawn their signatures after being mistakenly added to the “For” list served as propaganda to further discredit the resolution as “falling apart”. 

However, contrary to what propaganda would have you believe, this summit was not about attempting to position itself as the architecture of peace in Europe, given that the summit’s participants lack the current means to put pressure on Russia. Vitaly Portnikov confirmed this assumption, telling Radio Liberty prior to the summits commence- “Either you want the summit to consider the 10-point peace plan, or you want a bigger number of participants to express their support for Ukraine….The summit will be defined by the number of countries that participate. The presence is what gives this summit meaning. Everything else holds no significance.”

Golos Mordora (166,100 followers):

“Iraq and Jordan have withdrawn their signatures from the final declaration of the ‘peace summit’ in Switzerland. They read it carefully and realized what nonsense they had signed.”

Sergei Markov (69,000 followers):

Following Iraq and Jordan, Rwanda has also withdrawn its signature from the conference declarations in Switzerland. As I’ve been saying, this is supposed to be a “world summit,” but in reality, this conference against Russia is a failure of the West. Signing this disgraceful declaration is a discredit to the country.

Vityazeva (72,000 followers):

“Funny. The villagers [Ukrainians] are keeping track of who didn’t support their ‘sham document’ and are trying to put on a scary face.”

Oleg Tsarev (309,000 followers):

“It is interesting that among the participants of the conference in Bürgenstock, only three countries had not previously supported the mentioned UN General Assembly resolutions — Armenia, India, and South Africa. Now, an additional nine countries (the Vatican is not a UN member) that had voted for the UN resolutions decided not to vote for the document with milder wording towards Russia.”

  Russian Narrative  : Italian PM and her mistranslation

Verified: A consecutive translator’s job is considered one of the most high-pressure intellectual professions. With the summit stretching over two days and an incredibly saturated agenda, errors are inevitable. Unfortunately, this error came at quite a critical moment and concerned the Ukrainian translator.

It was first thought that Giorgia Meloni, known for her direct-speaking politics and support for Ukraine, made a rather powerful statement regarding the importance of supporting Ukraine… “If Russia doesn’t agree to our terms for a peace settlement, we will force it to surrender.”

However, this was unfortunately mistranslated by the Ukrainian translator with her actual speech citing  – “If Ukraine couldn’t count on its partners’ support, then it would have had to surrender.”

This mistranslation quickly spread across fast-paced and many fact-checking-lacking Ukrainian Telegram channels. Given Meloni’s typically strong rhetoric, the idea that she would make such a forceful declaration did not seem entirely implausible, adding to the lack of fact checking around the event. 

Russian propagandist, closely following the Ukrainian translations (with Russia being absent) and chatter on Ukrainian Telegram channels, quickly picked up on the mistranslated statement. Kremlin-backed Telegram channels and propagandists launched an immediate campaign to counteract and comment, aiming to discredit the Italian Prime Minister as foolish and too emotional. 

Hours later, it was revealed that the translation was incorrect, but this did not stop the dissemination of the incorrectly translated statement or the subsequent smear campaigns against the leader in its tracks. In fact, many telegram channels continued its spread into the next day. After all, the misinterpreted comment played perfectly into the Kremlin’s propaganda narrative, declaring that NATO has “in essence” declared war on Russia.

Paragraph (132,000 followers):

“The clownish assembly won’t calm down. The Italian Prime Minister, emboldened on the second day of the Ukraine conference in Switzerland, said: “If Russia doesn’t agree to our terms for a peace settlement, we will force it to surrender.”

Mardan (244,000 followers):

“The woman is certainly striking, but foolish. By the way, this is the European right-wing. To understand what the rhetoric of someone like Marine Le Pen would look like if she were to win the elections in France.”

Oleysa Loseva (32,000 followers):

“Giorgia, do you even realize that you’ve declared war on Russia? Are the Italians aware? Did you get something wrong, or did you have too much Italian wine at lunch?”

 Russian Narrative : Harris got bored, more important work elsewhere…

Verified: Harris, the VP of the United States, has faced numerous discrediting campaigns from both domestic opponents and foreign actors, such as Russia, which have intensified attacks against her over the course of her vice presidency to the point where her “uselessness” is often accepted as the status quo by the American people, and now, much of the world. 

However, Harris is the Vice President of the United States, the second-highest official, ready to step in if anything were to happen to the President. Despite the perception of a weakening global role, the US is still regarded as the hegemon of the international order, and thus, her position is among the most influential in global politics.

In 2023, Forbes ranked her as the third most influential woman in the world, ahead of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and just two spots behind the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Thus, the facts speak for themselves – her presence is significant and necessary.

The fact that Harris left after day one, although seemingly a snub and intensified by Russian propaganda’s efforts to portray it as such, actually underscores Biden’s seriousness toward the event. Harris attended on Saturday and then left President Biden’s right-hand man, Jake Sullivan, in charge. It’s important to remember that this is an election year, and with Harris seeking to secure her second term as VP, the current agenda does not revolve solely around Ukraine.

Valentin Bogdanov (34,000 followers)

Joe Biden sends Kamala Harris to the Ukraine conference in his place. If anyone forgot, it was Biden who once threw illegal migrants under the bus. Want to mess something up? Delegate it to Harris. Or leak it. Symbolically, she’s now been assigned Ukraine.

Colonelcassad (865,000 followers)

The success of the “world summit” in Switzerland was so great that some participants began to drop out before its formal conclusion. First Harris left, then Scholz.

Olesya Loseva (32,000 followers)

Vice President Kamala Harris quietly left the Ukraine summit in Switzerland ahead of schedule. Yesterday, Kamala conveyed to Zelensky the main message: the USA supports Ukraine not out of charity, but for its own benefit and strategic interests. She waved and flew away. And you stay if you want, you can chat some more.

PASHA TODAY (29,900 followers)

“There’s not enough cocaine and coke here, and Grandpa shit his pants and needs to fly to wash them,” said Kamala.