Over the past few years, I have closely monitored massive efforts by Russian propaganda media, as well as their minions in Ukraine, to portray our country as a sponsor and supporter of ISIS. At one period they claimed Ukraine was supplying ISIS with new fighters, then came the allegations of Ukraine being a transshipment and training base for ISIS terrorists, and then as a safe haven for the escaped terrorists dreaming of making it to Europe thanks to an EU-Ukraine visa-free travel.
As I said, not only Russia-based propagandists, but also those deployed and operating in Ukraine, took part in these tarring campaigns. That's including Katerina Sergatskova, a Russian journalist with a Ukrainian passport, and an "opposition" journo from Russia Anna Nemtsova, who has been regularly visiting Ukraine, totally unhindered.
You might have read about the activity of these pseudo-journalists in detail in my piece "ISIS will 'live on' in Ukraine as long as it benefits supervisors of puppet 'journalists'"
However, the attempts by the hybrid aggressor and its media henchmen turned out to be inefficient as they failed to discredit Ukraine in the eyes of the international community. That's largely because as much as they try to mess with the minds of mediocre audiences, they would see neither success nor profit from operating factual data at disposal of foreign intelligence and coalition governments. The thing is the facts put it pretty clear: it's impossible to brand Ukraine a terrorist supplier, a transshipment or training base, or a hub for escaped militants. At the same time, all said characteristics can well be applied to Sergatskova and Nemtsova's homeland, that is, Russia.
Perhaps, Russian propaganda masterminds have finally figured out that the ISIS plot is too thick for Ukraine and decided to switch to a story involving representatives of the Libyan Government of National Accord, allegedly "fleeing" to Ukraine.
Since yesterday afternoon, a short report has been spun in Russia's "gray" information space, pretty much consisting of a single sentence, which hasn't even been edited or rewritten: "One of the field commanders of the GNA forces (Tripoli) had been selling weapons received from Turkey and ... fled to Ukraine."
No name, no details – just an allegation with an attached photograph of the man in question.
In fact, we are observing an initial launch of the spin, which is yet to be followed by more voluminous and elaborate reports. Moreover, I won't be surprised if certain "journalists" will soon emerge at the forefront of coverage on the issues of Ukraine "sending militants and weapons to Libya", "hosting GNA fighters at training bases and treating them in hospitals", and other narratives alike. After all, why build the entire career on the ISIS topic alone, especially if it never led to anything, really.
However, the Libya case also has a number of pitfalls for Russian propaganda.
The fact that Ukraine is now Turkey's closest partner on a number of issues, while Ankara supports the GNA, allows Russian propagandists to assert that Ukraine may be taking part in the Ottomans' Libyan project. But, the key point here is that the Government of National Accord, which Russia has branded as "illegitimate", while seeing its fighters as "terrorists", has been internationally recognized by the UN. At the same time, the Russia-supported Libyan National Assembly, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, and his Libyan National Army, consisting entirely of mercenaries from Egypt, PMC Wagner, and other sorts of junk – were never recognized, so it's they who are, in fact, "illegitimate".
And therefore, if Russian propagandists embark on this path, which they most likely will do as the ISIS topic is becoming less and less relevant, they'll find themselves struggling to engage in discrediting Ukraine in issues where, in fact, "everything plays against them." Not the best choice, really, but it seems they simply don't have any other.
Let's see how further developments will unfold!