The vast international network in charge of Ukrainian war propaganda

The key to the propaganda work lies in an international legion of public relations firms working directly with the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. Photo: Military Times

29 March 2022
Translated by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.

Since the Russian offensive inside Ukraine began on February 24, the Ukrainian military has cultivated an image of a small brave army facing the Russian Goliath. To bolster the perception of Ukraine’s military mettle, Kyiv has produced a steady stream of sophisticated propaganda aimed at stirring up public and official support from Western countries.

The campaign includes language guides, key messages and hundreds of propaganda posters, some of which contain fascist images and even praise neo-Nazi leaders.

Behind Ukraine’s public relations efforts is an army of foreign policy strategists, Washington, D.C., lobbyists and a network of intelligence-linked news outlets.

Ukraine’s propaganda strategy earned praise from a NATO commander who told the Washington Post: “They are really excellent at strategic communication: media, information operations and also psychological operations.” The Post finally admitted that “Western authorities say that while they cannot independently verify much of the information that Kyiv publishes about the evolving situation on the battlefield, including casualty figures on both sides, it nonetheless represents a strategy very effective communication.

The key to the propaganda work is an international legion of public relations firms working directly with the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry to wage an information war.

According to industry news site PRWeek, the initiative was launched by an anonymous figure who allegedly founded a public relations firm based in Ukraine.

“From the first moment of the war, we decided to join the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help them distribute the official sources to show the truth,” the unnamed character told PRWeek. “This is a hybrid war: the mixture of bloody fighting with a huge campaign of disinformation and falsification led by Russia [sic].”

According to the anonymous, more than 150 public relations companies have joined the propaganda blitz (bombing).

The international initiative is spearheaded by the co-founder of the public relations company PR Network, Nicky Regazzoni, and Francis Ingham, a leading public relations consultant with close ties to the UK government. Ingham previously worked with the British Conservative Party, sits on the UK Government’s Communication Service Strategy and Evaluation Council, is the chief executive of the International Organization for Communication Consulting, and heads the body of communicators affiliated with local governments. of the UK, LG Comms.

“We have had the privilege of helping to coordinate support efforts for the Ukrainian government in recent days,” Ingham told PRovoke Media. “The agencies have offered entire teams to support Kyiv in the communication war. Our support for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry is unwavering and will continue as long as necessary.”

With an anonymous Ukrainian figure joining two major PR figures in the Kyiv government’s propaganda blitz, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry distributed an (archived) dossier of materials instructing PR agencies on “key messages,” language approved, the content of discredited propaganda constructs, far-right and neo-Nazi propaganda.

The portfolio is managed by Yaroslav Turbil, described on his LinkedIn page as “Director of, Ukraine’s digital ecosystem for global communications. Strategic communication and promotion of the country brand. Turbil has worked in multiple “civil society” organizations closely linked to the US government and was an intern at Internews, an organization linked to US intelligence that operates under the guise of promoting press freedom.

Among the propaganda constructs distributed in the dossier is a video of the Snake Island incident, which was quickly proven to be false, in which it was reported that border guards stationed on a small island had been killed after telling a ship Russian warfighter “F***se” as he approached and asked them to surrender. President Zelensky held a press conference announcing that he would award the men the Hero of Ukraine medal as the story spread through the mainstream media. However, the supposedly dead soldiers quickly turned up alive and well, proving their heroic stance to be a farce.

Although the story was proven false, the dossier contains a propaganda video promoting it.

Another folder in the dossier is by Ukrainian graphic artist Dasha Podoltseva, with an MFA, and contains hundreds of propaganda graphics submitted by artists in Europe and the United States.

Some contain generic “no war” messages, while dozens of other images celebrate the “Ghost of kyiv,” a heroic Ukrainian pilot who turned out to be non-existent, and the fake “Snake Island 13” incident.

Many use xenophobic and racist language, and others are explicit in their praise of prominent Ukrainian neo-Nazi figures, including C14 leader Yevhen Karas, the fascist Right Sector paramilitary, and the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion. Several images call for “flag shakes”, a reference to the Molotov cocktails named after the late commander of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists Stepán Bandera, who collaborated with Nazi Germany in the mass slaughter of ethnic Jews and Poles during World War II. . Another image shows a book titled Encyclopedia of Incurable Diseases, mentioning Russia, Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Eritrea.

It says: “Ritual services.”

It says: “Flag shake for Putin’s friends.”

Foreign extremists flock to Ukraine

The dossier also contains a link to a Foreign Ministry page called “Fight for Ukraine,” which provides instructions to foreigners who want to join Ukraine’s neo-Nazi-infested armed forces, dubbed the “Ukrainian International Defense Legion.”

Following Zelensky’s call for foreign fighters to form a brigade, fighters from around the world, including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Spain, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, among others, have traveled to confront Russian forces. . Others with no combat training or experience have come for “war tourism,” referred to by one British soldier as “bullet hunters.”

Recruitment charts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine extracted from the dossier.

Recruitment graph of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine extracted from the dossier.

While the Ukrainian government says tens of thousands have responded to the call, some analysts have cast doubt on those numbers, calling them a “public relations exercise.”

However, foreigners who have traveled to Ukraine have found a much more serious reality than anticipated.

The Russian air force bombs military installations are adjacent to where foreign fighters sleep. Having fled to neighboring Poland, a Spanish fighter described the bombardment as a “message” that may have killed thousands.

Similarly, an American fighter who hid in an ambulance to escape from the front line warned that Ukrainian authorities were killing foreigners who chose not to fight, calling it a trap.

Correct terms

A document within the dossier defines the accepted language on the conflict with Russia determined by the Ukrainian government.

“Such Russian clichés as ‘Crimean referendum’ or ‘the will of the Crimean people’ are absolutely unacceptable,” the document states, referring to the overwhelmingly successful 2014 referendum to secede from Ukraine.

The document considers unacceptable the terms “civil war in Donbas”, “internal conflict”, “conflict in Ukraine” and “Ukrainian crisis” to describe the war of the Ukrainian army with the secessionist republics of the Donbas region. This is despite the fact that the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that 14,200 people, including 3,404 civilians, have been killed in combat in Ukraine since 2014.

Instead of these phrases, the document asks to use the terms “armed aggression of the Russian Federation in Donbas, international armed conflict, Russian war against Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict”.

Key messages

Another document titled “Key Messages” contains specific propaganda claims that were widely reported in the mainstream Western media, but have since been debunked. One section states that “The whole of Europe was on the verge of nuclear disaster, when Russian troops began to bomb the largest nuclear plant in Zaporizhia.”

However, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said that the building hit by a Russian “projectile” at the Zaporizhia plant “was not part of the reactor” but was a training center. Russian troops also let Ukrainian workers continue to operate the plant.

Another section thanks Turkey for the decision to “block the access of Russian warships to the Black Sea.”

However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan closed the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to all military vessels, preventing NATO and Russian ships from accessing the Black Sea.

Among the document’s key messages is a statement of appreciation for the “anti-war demonstrations held by citizens of many nations throughout the world who show strong support for Ukraine in its defense against Russia.”

He is referring to large pro-Ukrainian demonstrations in Europe that have exposed calls for no-fly zones over Ukraine and shooting down Russian military aircraft, potentially transforming the conflict into a global war between nuclear powers.

“Despite Russia’s propaganda, there is no discrimination based on race or nationality, even when it comes to crossing the state border by foreign citizens,” the document states.

However, numerous videos and news reports have documented the Ukrainian authorities preventing Africans from escaping the conflict. Even the New York Times, hardly a bastion of Kremlin propaganda, ran a report documenting these racist practices.

One message says that “on March 16, Russian forces dropped a bomb on a theater where 1,300 civilians were sheltered. The number of victims is still unknown.”

But, as Max Blumenthal denounced, the explosion appears to be the result of a false flag operation engineered by the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion that sought to trigger a NATO intervention.

NATO-backed troll farms

Another anonymous investigation shows how Ukrainian PR firms have used ads to astroturf Russian internet and social media with messages calling to economically isolate Moscow and “stop the war.”

This work is led by Bezlepkin Evgeny Vitalievich, who uses the alias Evgeny Korolev, together with Pavel Antonov from the Targetorium organization. Under the pseudonym of him Korolev, the Ukrainian information warrior wrote a post on his (now private) Facebook page boasting that his company’s Facebook ads reached 30 million views in three days.

At the same time, Facebook has blocked efforts by Russian state media channels to run ads and monetize their content. Several fake media accounts like Russia 24 have sprung up, burying the real accounts under a series of imposters. Facebook has also called statements by Russian officials, including the Defense Ministry, “false.”

This campaign has been denounced as being carried out under the recommendation of StopFake, a self-described “fact-checking” outlet that is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Atlantic Council, government ministries. UK and Czech Foreign Ministry and the International Renaissance Foundation, which is funded by billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.

StopFake was hired by Facebook in March 2020 to “stop the flow of Russian propaganda” but was founded to employ multiple characters closely linked to violent neo-Nazis. The journalist who co-wrote his exposé received death threats and eventually fled Ukraine.

These revelations have apparently not prevented Facebook from weaning itself from the organization’s censorship guidance.

Meanwhile, Russian hackers located a public Google document (since private, uploaded here) detailing the propaganda operation, which has been distributed on Telegram “creative farms” channels.

“Here you can find links to Ukrainian media outlets that need promotion, bot accounts with logins and passwords from which they sent users anti-war messages and messages with fakes about the Ministry of Defense, theses, and specific instructions on which posts and audiences embroider”, reads the investigation.

Another campaign is run by Nataliya Popovych, the founder of the One Philosophy public relations agency, in kyiv. Popovych’s LinkedIn profile shows that she has worked with the US State Department and was an adviser to former President Petro Poroshenko. She is also a co-founder and board member of the Ukraine Media Crisis Center, a propaganda arm funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the NED, the US Embassy and NATO. among many others.

A Campaign Asia article describes several public relations firms involved in the work. Among them is Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman PR. Edelman is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Atlantic Council and the World Economic Forum (or Davos Forum).

“Geopolitics has become the new test of trust. We saw it with the allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang and the war between Ukraine and Russia has only reinforced it,” he said, linking the US propaganda campaign around China’s campaign for the deradicalization of Uyghur Muslims. .

Public relations approved media

An article in PRWeek describes several personalities involved in what they describe as a “public relations army” that is “fighting on the frontlines” against Russia’s “savage genocide of Ukrainians.”

“Propaganda is the same as actual lethal weapons,” says Marta Dzhumaha, a public relations manager at the BetterMe healthcare company.

Julia Petryk, head of public relations for MacPaw, offers a list of approved outlets, written by her colleague Tetiana Bronistka, a former employee of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office. The list includes Russian and English language sources, as well as Telegram channels. However, these “verified sources objectively covering what is happening in Ukraine” are anything but independent. Most of them are connected to the US government, European governments and billionaire foundations.

She also lists several Russian-language websites:

  • Novaya Gazeta: Linked to and reportedly funded by the NED.
  • Meduza: Funded by Latvia, the OAK Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorovsky, and Sweden.
  • Dozhd: the SREDA foundation, the European Commission.
  • Holod Media: Meduza affiliate and lauded on PBS and CNN as “independent media.”
  • He argued that Leningrad should have been handed over to the Nazis in World War II and has complained that they are called “fifth columns” because they were financed by Western powers.
  • BBC Russia: British government outlet.
  • Current Time TV: Created by the CIA-funded propaganda outlet Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in collaboration with Voice of America.
  • Censor: Financed by its editor-in-chief Yuri Butusov, a former adviser to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.
  • 200RF – A Ukrainian Foreign Ministry website that claims to publish photos and documents released from Russian soldiers captured and killed in action.

Among the Telegram channels included:

  • Radio Svoboda: propaganda organ founded by the CIA Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
  • Espresso TV – Largely owned by the wife of former Ukrainian parliament member Mykola Knyazhytsky.
  • Formerly the largest media site in Ukraine, whose motto is “Bring down Russia” and whose owner runs an “international troll parade”.

Intelligence operations

While PR firms distribute content, CIA cutouts and billionaire foundations run the media outlets from which they are derived. At the center of this operation is a project called Russian Language News Exchange which was a product of a network of opposition media outlets founded in 2016 operating in post-Soviet countries, as revealed by an investigation by the Russian media agency RIA FAN.

In July 2021, a group of journalists flew to Warsaw for media training after being exempted from coronavirus-related restrictions and quarantine orders by Poland’s top medical authorities.

Among the six journalists were Andrey Lipsky, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Novaya Gazeta, and Yuliia Fediv, CEO of Hromadske TV Media, one of the most-watched networks in Ukraine.

Hromadske’s financial reports show that it is funded by numerous governments and foundations, including the US Embassy in Ukraine, the Danish Foreign Ministry, the Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency, the European Fund for Democracy, and Free Press Unlimited. . Silicon Valley billionaire Pierre Omidary was also involved in the creation of the medium.

Hromadske recently featured a commentator calling for the genocide of ethnic Russians in the Donbass, saying it was populated by 1.5 million “superfluous” people who “must be exterminated.”

The training, held behind closed doors from July 19-21, was titled “Media Network 2021+” and was closely linked to Mediaset, also known as the Russian Language News Exchange, a network founded in 2015. The Russian Language News website Exchange is miserable, with little information available on its activities, apparently carried out in private since the publication of the RIA FAN investigation.

While claiming to be independent, Russian Language News Exchange is a project of Free Press Unlimited, funded by the Dutch government and the European Commission.

It currently includes 14 media outlets that act as “nodes”, republishing each other’s articles on their platforms in various countries.

The website’s introductory video is hosted by Maxim Eristavi, a former Radio Free Europe reporter and founder of Hromadske. He today directs the Millennium Leadership Program at the NATO think tank and is supported by the arms industry, the Atlantic Council.

Since its creation, Mediaset has coordinated between media outlets in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. In March 2021, Mediaset expanded with the Colab Media Project, created through Free Press Unlimited’s Viable Media for Empowered Societies (VIMES) program. This program created a training program for journalists and sought articles from the Salvadoran outlet El Faro published in Euroradio (Belarus), Coda (Georgia) and Ziarul de Garda (Moldova).

On March 4, several days after Russia launched its military offensive, a new project called Media Lifeline Ukraine was created.

The next day, Free Press Unlimited held an emergency conference for Ukraine hosted by co-founders Maxim Eristavi and Nataliya Gumenyuk. The meeting asked to raise 2 million euros for the project. “Only with continued external support, local media entities will be able to continue doing their job,” states its introductory page.

Days later, Free Press Unlimited announced a partnership to support a new joint project by Reporters Without Borders and its Ukrainian partner, the Institute for Mass Information, called The Lviv Press Freedom Center. ). The Institute for Mass Information is headed by USAID Communications Officer Oksana Romaniuk and funded by USAID and the UK government.

Washington, D.C., lobbyists distract attention

While public relations firms and intelligence-related propaganda operations target society, Washington DC lobbyists are agitating in Congress to prolong the war in Ukraine.

Daniel Vajdich, a registered foreign agent and lobbyist for the Ukrainian Federation of Oil and Gas Industry Entrepreneurs, the largest in Ukraine, is working on behalf of Volodymyr Zelensky to lobby members of Congress to approve sending more weapons to Ukraine. He is now the director of Yorktown Solutions, previously advised the Ted Cruz and Scott Walker campaigns, and is a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

“Stingers, Javelins [U.S.-made missiles], and we solve the issue of fighter jets,” he told Politico, alleging that Russia is trying to carry out “genocide” and “depopulate certain areas of Ukraine.”

Vajdich also wrote Zelensky’s March 16 speech to the US Congress, in which he quoted Martin Luther King Jr.’s expression “I Have a Dream” to call for a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

Ukrainian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya’s February 23 speech at the UN General Assembly was written by the general director of the capital’s lobbying company SKDKnickerbocker, Stephen Krupin, a prominent former speechwriter of the President Barack Obama who worked hard on the 2020 Biden campaign.

Foremost among registered lobbyists promoting Ukrainian government and business interests is Andrew Mac, who also helped write Zelensky’s speech to Congress. Mac registered as a lobbyist for Zelensky in 2019 and runs the Washington DC office of the Ukrainian law firm Asters Law.

The lobbying firm Your Global Strategy, founded by Shai Franklin, which has been affiliated with numerous Zionist organizations including the World Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League, is also using its influence with local officials in the United States. Franklin has arranged meetings between Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov and US mayors, including Eric Adams in New York, Michelle Wu in Boston and Lori Lightfoot in Chicago. She is also trying to organize a meeting between US officials and the mayors of Odessa and Kyiv. A media outlet owned by the wife of the mayor of kyiv recently linked a presenter calling for genocide against Russians, starting with children.

Franklin said he is working with the administration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to help organize virtual meetings between the mayors of Odessa and Kyiv and their American counterparts.

Maryland-based attorney Lukas Jan Kaczmarek is also working on behalf of the Ukrainian Defense Minister to increase US arms shipments, specifically trying to arrange arms shipments from Cocoa, Florida-based Kel-Tec CNC Industries to the city of Odessa, Ukraine.

Former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul described the network of PR professionals and lobbyists surrounding Zelensky. “These are people who surround Mr. Zelensky, who are like intermediaries and interlocutors. They have been interacting with American elites and media for a long time,” he said.

McFaul and John E. Herbst, a former US ambassador to Ukraine and director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, act as informal advisers to Zelensky. McFaul told Politico that he speaks with Ukrainian government officials “probably every day” and that he “has helped them establish contacts with producers on NBC or MSNBC.”

McFaul recently told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that “Hitler did not kill German-speaking people,” facing accusations of being a Holocaust denier.

Zelensky also had a “strategic video call” with McFaul before speaking to House Democrats.

With a powerful Russian army fighting alongside forces from the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, defeat for the Ukrainian military appears imminent unless the US and NATO confront Russian forces directly, a scenario President Biden has already ruled out. . Still, lobbyists persist in their campaign to portray the Ukrainian military as helpless, dealing blow after blow against the Russian hordes. By doing so, they help prolong the war and continue the carnage.

Graphic calling Tsar Nicholas, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Putin incarnations of the same “Moskovian Mental Dragon”

“The Encyclopedia of Incurable Diseases”: Russia, Belarus, North Korea, Syria, Eritrea

It says: “Democracy is a weapon”

“I love NLAW” – Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon, provided by Western governments to the Ukrainian military.

(Taken from Mission Verdad)

Source: CubaDebate 


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