As I wrote earlier, Russian propaganda on Thursday, Aug. 15, made another attempt to accuse Ukraine of arms deliveries to embargoed countries. It's about a fake spin claiming a Ukrainian armored combat vehicle Varta Novator was at the disposal of Syrian spec-ops forces.
This fake story couldn't stand the simplest fact check since the evidence presented turned out to be nothing but a photo of a cheap wannabe copy of the Ukrainian vehicle. I covered these developments in detail in my piece titled "Fake Varta armored vehicle in Syria, or another hybrid attempt to discredit Ukraine".
However, to see a wider picture, several very important accents should be made regarding how, who, and why, has repeatedly been conducting such info attacks on Ukraine's defense industry.
Speaking about this precise fake, story the initial source of the spin in the Russian media segment was the Diana Mihailova Livejournal blog, whose owner is supervised by a GRU-affiliated military “expert” Ruslan Pukhov. This blog often spits out Ukrainophobic content, often heavily dipped in fakes. Manipulations of facts and other propaganda elements are traditional for this platform's operations.
It should be noted though that the story with Varta isn't fresh, actually. On April 4 this year, Russia's Moskovsky Komsomolets outlet working under the auspices of the country's defense ministry published its own piece on a Varta in Syria, citing photos and videos that this week were used in the report on the Diana Mihailova blog.
That is, someone decided to revive the story that back in April just didn't go down. This time, the spin is launched against the background of a wave of info attacks on Ukraine regarding the Libyan incident with IL-76TD aircraft and an alleged deal between Ukraine and Turkey to exchange Altai tanks for Yuzhmash technology. In both cases, fake stories and manipulations were aimed at discrediting Ukraine in the eyes of its Western partners, especially the United States, with whom Kyiv is currently drafting a deal on weapons supply (not just "lethal aid" as it was before), first time in the history of bilateral relations.
Of course, the story of the Ukrainian Varta in Syria was set to once again remind the West of the "unreliable" Ukraine, especially since Russia wasted a lot of effort and money on this fake piece, and therefore Moscow spooks were just too greedy to just throw it down the drain.
The thing is that the source of the initial spin by Moskovsky Komsomolets was a pro-Assad Twitter account Bosni94, which claimed that the armored vehicle was produced by "Syrian Armored Vehicles". Interestingly, this user's tweet, published on April 3, 2019, had really few engagements but in some strange combination of circumstances (right?) it attracted the attention of the Russian media outlet.
But back to the masterpiece of the “Syrian Armored Vehicles”… It should be noted that the Syrian defense industry is simply incapable of producing hardware of even of such poor quality as shown on picutres. And here's the interesting part.
On MAZ-5434 chassis, which were used for the "Syrian" fake car, someone put a vehicle body resembling that of Varta. And it was obviously made not in some rusty Syrian garage but somewhere where people have experience in producing armored vehicles, that is, Russia. The scarcity of certain parts on the body despite some resemblance is due to the fact that the masterminds behind this "miscarriage" had access to approximately some spare parts and external elements as the actual Varta manufacturers, albeit not all of them.
That is, the Syrian homunculus was assembled in Russia, transported to Syria on one of the ships of the "Syrian Express", where it was "presented to the public", with all the ensuing attempts to discredit Ukraine. Besides, all arms-related information spins one way or the other have GRU's ears sticking out from behind.
Apparently, our hybrid neighbors are biting their nails too hard over certain developments of the Ukrainian defense industry as well as our foreign policy achievements.