Written by Volodymyr Solovian, Head of HWAG/UCMC
Propaganda Digest: This is our weekly analysis that exposes the most exaggerated, misleading, and outrageous rhetoric from recent Russian media sources. The digest is aimed at promoting critical thinking to better debunk the dangerous manipulation of Russian propaganda.
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On January 12, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak. During the meeting, the leaders signed a Security Cooperation Agreement between Ukraine and the United Kingdom — the first bilateral agreement within the Joint Declaration to support Ukraine among the countries of the “Group of Seven”.
Russian Narrative 1:
London seizes control of the “Ukrainian project”
Two Majors (527,000 subscribers), Telegram Channel:
The ever-present ‘Englishwoman’ will actively stir the pot for Ukrainian natives. They will offer beads, spears, and perform in the leader’s wigwam. The British have one objective for Ukrainians: the death of Ukrainians and to cause harm to Russia. They will provide the means specifically for this task
PANCHENKO (237,000), a pro-Russian defector journalist:
The British Empire, operating on a shoestring budget, has exited the European Union and is seeking new spheres of influence. Their goal is to construct Pilsudski’s Intermarium—a union of states from sea to sea. And to isolate Russia from Europe.
Another Ukraine (103,000), Telegram Channel:
The British aim to entirely take control of Ukraine and profit from the country’s riches while disposing of surplus individuals.”
Skabeeva (227,000), a political talk show host:
Members of the Verkhovna Rada are welcoming their English master, Sunak”.
Indeed, among Western governments, London is one of Kyiv’s most principled and consistent allies. However, as evidenced by the public positions of the EU leadership and the vast majority of European national governments, supporting Ukraine during wartime is a matter of continental security. UCMC experts believe that the London-Kyiv Agreement is only the first piece of the puzzle of Ukraine’s future system of defense cooperation agreements with its Western partners. Bilateral agreements should serve as the foundation for Ukraine’s collective security architecture until the country joins NATO.
Thus, Russian propaganda’s thesis about the UK’s “supervision” of Ukraine is null and void. Despite significant support (£4.6 billion in military aid in 2022–23 and £2.5 billion in 2024), London, in fact, lacks the ambition and capacity to meet the majority of Ukraine’s needs in the war.
Russian Narrative 2:
Efforts to downplay the significance of the trip through fabrications about deceased British servicemen in Ukraine, coupled with labeling the UK’s trip as a mere ‘PR ploy.’
This is not the end yet (127,500), Telegram Channel:
The reason R. Sunak came to Kyiv is not to support V. Zelensky at all. Today, Sunak skipped a cabinet meeting to hold a memorial service and receive the bodies of deceased British officers in Odesa and Kharkiv. The prime minister will depart with a cargo of 14 bodies.
Military analyst Gennady Alekhin, Sladkov + (940,000), Telegram Channel:
Among other things, he (Sunak) was retrieving the bodies of twenty high-ranking NATO officers destroyed by our missiles in Kharkiv.
War correspondent Kotenok (347,000), Telegram Channel:
Sunak’s trip, especially against the backdrop of strikes in Yemen, is a typical PR story. London is very eager to demonstrate its readiness to escalate on multiple fronts simultaneously.
Verified : In order to divert attention away from the Agreement’s content, Russian propaganda has spread a ridiculous allegation that Sunak’s goal is to come to Kyiv to retrieve the bodies of British officers allegedly killed in Ukraine. In this way, the Russians are attempting to justify strikes on Kharkiv’s civilian infrastructure (hotels), despite the fact that there is no evidence of military (let alone NATO) personnel on the grounds of the affected facilities. In fact, Russia is employing the basic propaganda formula attributed to Third Reich ideologue Joseph Goebbels: the more incredible the lie, the easier it is to accept.
The motive created by Russian propaganda to “divert public attention from Yemen” is less obvious, but it is also fake. Just compare the number of headlines in the Western media about the coalition’s operation against the Houthis and Rishi Sunak’s visit to Kyiv. Obviously, the level of attention of the Western audience to the topic of the Allied operation in the Red Sea is much higher. Strikes on Yemeni targets continued throughout the next day of the British prime minister’s visit. As a result, the Kyiv-London agreement could not overshadow developments in the Middle East.
Russian Narrative 3:
Russia possesses the capability to effortlessly neutralize the British
President of the Russian Federation (2008 – 2012), Dmitry Medvedev (1,150,000):
“I hope our perennial audacious enemies, the British, understand that deploying their official military contingent in Ukraine will be tantamount to declaring war on our country.”
Older Edda (573,000), Telegram Channel:
“Regarding the English, and this question has already become commonplace, the more deceased English soldiers in various regions of the world, the better. Specifically, deceased English soldiers, not threats on Telegram. To eliminate them, if necessary, with a nuclear bomb or some other domestic wonder weapon.”
Verified : The nervous reaction of Russian authorities and propagandists demonstrates that the signing of the Kyiv-London Agreement has become a thorn in Putin’s ideology. The Russians’ hysteria is understandable, given Ukraine’s successes in the maritime theater of operations in 2023, which were largely made possible by the UK’s assistance. Support for Ukraine’s maritime capabilities will only grow in the future, as evidenced by the Agreement’s text: “The United Kingdom will jointly lead the Maritime Security Capability Coalition and contribute significantly to the development of Ukraine’s maritime fleet.” The Maritime Capability Coalition aims to help Ukraine become a full-fledged contributor to maritime security in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov by 2035 and beyond.
Instead, hate speech and threats for the physical destruction of British soldiers reveal the Kremlin regime’s fascist nature. This should serve as yet another reminder to Western audiences that if Ukraine is defeated, Russia will launch a hybrid aggression campaign against Kyiv’s European partners.
Russian Narrative 4:
Another fanciful set of Russian conditions for achieving peace?
Sergey Markov, a pro-government political analyst, (64,500), Telegram Channel:
“As a condition for peace in the future, all agreements between Ukraine and NATO countries should be nullified”.
Verified : An important aspect of Ukraine’s bilateral security cooperation agreements with its Western partners effectively puts an end to the Kremlin’s conciliatory goals of “demilitarising” Ukraine. It should be noted that this requirement remains one of Moscow’s primary demands in hypothetical negotiations. Thus, London is sending multiple clear signals. Kyiv and the rest of the world are receiving a clear message: regardless of the outcome of the war, thanks to joint defense industry projects, Ukraine will have enough weapons to resolutely repel new attempts to occupy its territory. Moscow has received another slap in the face: the UK has finally levelled one of the war’s key “motives” – to deprive Ukraine of the ability to defend itself effectively.
As a result, a Kremlin-controlled ‘political scientist’ (Markov) formulated a demand from the Russian leadership for Kyiv to abandon the contractual framework with Western security partners. However, such a reaction demonstrates Russia’s inability to prevent the rearmament of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Russia may continue to launch missiles at Ukraine’s military industry for the foreseeable future, however, the British Prime Minister’s recent visit to Kyiv sealed Moscow’s final defeat in the battle for the future of Ukrainian weapons.