One of the main targets of Russian propaganda is Ukrainian national unity, which the Kremlin is trying to level, undermine, and deny in every possible way. For this purpose, Putin’s propaganda uses not only the latest, but also centuries-old arguments created by the propagandists of Tsarist Russia and the communist USSR.
Every year, Russia allocates 1.4 billion dollars to ensure the operation of this propaganda at home and around the world. This system covers 600 million people in 130 countries in 30 languages. No other autocratic regime has ever had the kind of budgets and production capacity that Russian propaganda has.
Information and psychological attacks on Ukrainian national and territorial unity can be summarized in several main myths.
Myth 1. Ukraine is a “split state”.
Since the first year of the Kremlin dwarf’s rule, Russian propagandists have been promoting the linguistic, ethnic, religious, confessional, mental, and historical “splits” of Ukraine, which are supposed to indicate the impossibility of the existence of a Ukrainian state. The thesis that “Ukraine is divided into East and West, into Russian-speaking and Ukrainian-speaking, etc.” has become one of Moscow’s main information weapons against Ukraine.
It is noteworthy that the author of the “map of the division of Ukraine into varieties,” Russian political strategist Timofey Sergeev, is also the author of the plan for the genocide of Ukrainians, published in the article “What Russia Should Do with Ukraine” after the discovery of the crimes in Bucha.
The truth is that Ukraine today is more united and unified than Russia or a number of other countries. And the war against the Russian invaders became a national war and united all denominations and ethnic groups, regardless of the language of communication. A political Ukrainian nation has been formed in Ukraine, which places Ukrainian civic identity above national origin.
Myth 2. Ukraine is a “multinational mix”.
Fans of the “Russian world” like to say that more than 130 nationalities live in Ukraine, including Vietnamese students and Norwegian tourists. The purpose of these digital manipulations is to spread the idea that Ukrainians do not have their own state and must reckon with minorities in everything – that is, only Russians, and only those in the Kremlin.
In fact, Ukraine is predominantly populated by Ukrainians, and their share prevails over that of other peoples in all regions.. Ukrainians in Ukraine make up 77.8% (in 2001). 68% of Ukrainians call Ukrainian their native language.
According to an all-Ukrainian survey conducted by the Razumkov Center in spring 2017, 92% of Ukrainian citizens (excluding the occupied territories) consider themselves ethnic Ukrainians, 6% ethnic Russians, and 1.5% representatives of other nationalities. But the modern Russian Federation is indeed home to more than 130 nationalities, whose language, culture, and representatives are being destroyed by Russians in the senseless war in Ukraine.
Myth 3. Ukraine has never been united. Stalin first gathered its lands in 1939, annexing the western Ukrainian territory to the Ukrainian SSR.
This Russian historical fake is broken down by elementary dates and facts of historical science. Rebuttal: The first unification of Ukrainian lands took place on January 22, 1919, when the Universal of the UPR Directorate on unification was proclaimed on St. Sophia Square in Kyiv. Long before Stalin. Prior to that, Ukrainians had their own Cossack state, the Hetmanate, which also united a large part of ethnic Ukrainian lands. And even earlier – Kievan Rus.
Myth #4: “Ukraine is a failed state”
Kremlin propaganda portrays Ukraine as a failed country, plagued by corruption, disorder, emigration, and poverty. Moscow is constantly trying to prove to the world that Ukraine is a failed state. This thesis was actively promoted as one of the Kremlin’s justifications for the annexation of Crimea. Russian propaganda is constantly trying to portray Ukraine as a country consumed by corruption, chaos and lawlessness. “Therefore, Ukraine should be given to Russia for “re-education” as an island of “security and stability” in the region,” Russian fascists say.
However, the reality is different. The Fragile States Index has been developed by the Peace Foundation. According to 2017 research, Russia ranks 67th in the FSI, and Ukraine ranks 90th. And this is despite the war, the annexation of part of the territory and, as a result, considerable problems with the economy. Despite its internal problems, Ukraine is more stable and united than the Russian dictatorship.
5. “Khrushchev’s mistake”. Myths surrounding Crimea’s accession to Ukraine.
The Russian myth of the “gift” of Crimea to Ukraine and the decisive role of M. С. Khrushchev crossed the Atlantic and gained followers even in the person of businessman Elon Musk. This Russian fiction was used in the spring of 2014 as a justification for the Russian occupation of Crimea.
It is true that in 1954, at a meeting of the Presidium of the CPSU Central Committee chaired by Georgy Malenkov, a draft decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR was approved to transfer the Crimean region from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR. Moscow has proposed that the Ukrainian leadership take over the Crimean issues. Crimea was transferred based on “common economy, territorial proximity and close economic and cultural ties between the Crimean region and the Ukrainian SSR”.
Even as part of the RSFSR, the Crimean region remained in the economic space of Ukraine. The fuel and energy complex, metallurgy, machine building and light industry, and railroad transport in Ukraine and Crimea were virtually united.
In 1954, Ukraine received Crimea, which had been destroyed by the World War, deportations, and mismanagement. But she turned it into an “all-Union health resort.”
The majority of Crimeans (54.2%) voted in favor of Ukraine’s independence in a referendum on December 1, 1991.
Distortion of history, propaganda and lies have become the main weapon of Russian propaganda and part of the essence of the rotten Putin regime. However, debunking Russian historical myths and fakes is one of the key factors in defeating the Russian invaders.
Author: Valeriy Maydanyuk, political scientist, expert at the Foundation for the Promotion of Democracy