Russian propagandists are now putting into life yet another psyop aimed to tar Ukraine’s Armed Forces operating in Donbas, to create a pretext for escalation.
Russian propaganda has never hesitated to use human suffering for own purposes. Since 2014, after the invasion of Ukraine, the occupation of Crimea and parts of Donbas, Moscow has been systematically putting blame on Ukraine for the suffering of the local population, while also from time to time resorting to bloody provocations bringing civilian casualties.
On April 3, another such provocation unfolded, which fit perfectly into Russia’s latest attempts to go for an escalation of the Donbas conflict, this time engaging a limited ground contingent of its regular armed forces.
This is about the tragedy that occurred in the village of Oleksandrivske, close to the occupied town of Horlivka, where a child, 5, was reportedly killed. The incident requires a detailed investigation, but Russian propagandists have immediately put it to their service in order to blame Ukrainian troops.
Now let’s take a closer look at the spin.
The primary source of the report was the so-called People’s Militia of the internationally unrecognized “DPR”, which immediately accused Ukraine’s Armed Forces, while providing no details of what’s happened or the evidence of Ukrainian military involvement, which was a red flag right away.
After all, usually, if such an incident occurs, pro-Kremlin propagandists are all over the place covering the event, posting images of the destruction and victims, slapping accusations on Ukrainian military.
Almost a day into the initial report, however, the so-called People’s Militiaa provided no images to back their report, not even a name of the child in question or the exact site of the tragic event. So far, all information available is in plain text.
Nevertheless, this didn’t stop Russian propagandists from circulating the fake news in a very peculiar way, involving persons who have long been exposed on similar tricks.
The initial spin came through a network of Telegram channels managed by the Russian GRU military intelligence, as well as social platforms of Russian journalists and so-called “war correspondents” directly affiliated with the who have direct affiliation with the agency.
In particular, it’s about Alexander Kots, Dmitry Steshin, Semyon Pegov, and others. Alexander Kots, and Dmitry Steshin are notorious for their Donbas deployments as journalists with the Komsomolskaya Pravda where they also performed functions of gunners and provocateurs. Usually, shortly after their arrival to a certain settlement, it came under shelling from the occupied territory and these pseudo-journalists immediately proceeded to “document” the aftermath, accusing the Ukrainian Army.
Alexander Kots and Semyon Pegov applied similar tactics during the latest conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
These men have long discredited themselves as journalists, being nothing but gears in the Kremlin’s propaganda machine, ready to blatantly lie and manipulate — just as they did in the latest case in Donbas.
Besides, not only did Russian “journalists” immediately rush to accuse Ukrainian troops of murdering a child, they also deliberately misreported the location of the village where the incident occurred.
So, the village of Oleksandrivske was referred to as a settlement near Donetsk. In a repost, Alexander Kots said it was located to the west of Donetsk. But, the fact, there’s no Oleksandrivske to the west of Donetsk. There’s Oleksandrivka there, right on the front line. Oleksandrivske, however, is located to the east of the occupied Horlivka, in the deep rear of the Russian proxy forces.
That is, according to the logic pursued by propagandists, Ukrainian troops launched a drone that flew dozens kilometers unnoticed, deep into the occupied territory, just to bomb a civilian household in order to purposefully kill a child…
Not a single Russian jingoist, even those long swimming in propaganda cesspools, would buy into such a weak and ridiculous fake. It’s for this reason that the settlement of Oleksandrivske in Russian reports abruptly changed its name to the front-line village of Oleksandrivka, west of Donetsk.
Once the fake story got the initial spin across Runet’s gray segment, it was immediately picked up by the Russian federal media. Izvestia, Gazeta.ru, Lenta.ru and many other pro-Kremlin outlets have joined the propaganda effort, going even further with the disinformation plot by claiming that the “child was killed in Donetsk.”
So in a matter of hours, the initial fake posted by the so-called People’s Militia of the self-styled “DPR”, surged through a number of fringe platforms to a nationwide media space in Russia, with no facts verified and no video or photo evidence whatsoever.
Spins like this are extremely rare, being always coordinated at the highest level.
This was needed to colorize and highlight the already pale narrative about the atrocities by Ukraine forces, of which most have long grown weary. The easiest way is to cultivate the myth of Ukrainian Army hunting children. This draws parallel lines with the fake story massively spun at the onset of Russian aggression against Ukraine to raise public tensions when, in an outrageous disinformation act, Russia accused Ukrainian soldiers of “crucifying a child”.
In turn, the fake, as I said, was originally sewn with white threads. In the Ukrainian media environment, they promptly reacted to it and, in fact, denied it even before it was spread at the federal level.
Besides, the very participation in the fake report’s circulation effort of such hardened and long-exposed propagandists as Alexander Kots, Semyon Pegov, Dmitry Steshin and many has compromised the story from the start, making it clear that the audiences are being targeted in yet another psyop designed by Russia’s GRU military intelligence.
At the same time, this doesn’t negate the fact that in the near future, more of such fake stories will be emerging. Moreover, based on the latest trends prevailing the propaganda circles, it is possible that the Russian special services could provoke a bloody terrorist act within Russia, only to blame Ukraine and its “subversive groups” or “radical pro-Ukrainian organizations” operating on Russian soil, of which I wrote earlier in my piece “Neo-Nazi Russia is once again cultivating fake stories about ‘Ukrainian fascism’. “
So, in fact, more developments are yet to come.