Russian War Report: Russia Wrongly Accuses Ukraine of Provoking Conflict Even Though It Knew War Was Coming

Story Tracking

Distorted statements by Ukrainian officials in pro-Kremlin media, used as evidence that Ukraine is provoking war

Russia presents new ‘evidence’ of ‘activity’ of Ukrainian biolabs

International response

Head of separatist Georgia region announces referendum to join Russia

Distorted statements by Ukrainian officials in pro-Kremlin media, used as evidence that Ukraine is provoking war

Telegram channel MediaKiller, which was part of a larger set that posted doctored BBC video on April 13, deliberately twisted a Ukrainian official’s comments in order to blame Ukraine for the Russian invasion.

In an April 13 interview with BBC Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said the country expected Russia to begin its invasion on February 22. “To accuse us of not preparing is completely incorrect. We couldn’t go out and publicly say to the people, “Friends, February 22, the war begins. These are unacceptable things from the point of view of public administration. But we were preparing,” he said. However, Danilov said Ukraine did not expect Russian forces to attack from Belarusian territory.

In the interview, Danilov also said that Ukraine did not expect Russia to attack civilian targets. “We couldn’t even imagine in a nightmare that they would kill our wives and children, pregnant women, old people… If you are an army, you have to fight the army, not the civilians.”

Following the interview, MediaKiller quoted Danilov’s comments in an article that blamed the Ukrainian government for the war. The channel said Ukraine knew war was coming but continued to provoke Russia by allowing protests and insulting it in the media. After MediaKiller published his message, the Kremlin-linked Telegram channel Rezident forwarded it and added an allegation that Ukraine had received a war warning from the United States and the United Kingdom, allowing authorities to evacuate their loved ones before the invasion.

In another attempt to discredit the Ukrainian government, several pro-Kremlin outlets quoted an April 14 BBC Russia interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. During the interview, Zelenskyy said that the war between Ukraine and Russia started in 2014. “That’s why we wanted to join NATO…. We started this war even earlier,” he said. As noted by fact-checking organization StopFake, quotes from Zelenskyy’s interview were taken out of context by pro-Kremlin media, which cited the quotes as evidence that Ukraine had prepared an offensive. against the separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, Crimea and Belarus. Another pro-Russian Telegram channel cited quotes from Zelenskyy while blaming Ukrainian authorities for “not evacuating civilians and using them as a living shield”.

—Roman Osadchuk, Research Associate

Russia presents new ‘evidence’ of ‘activity’ of Ukrainian biolabs

A Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) official presented for the first time a list of names of people involved in laboratories in Ukraine that would be used to develop biological weapons. Along with the list, the Department of Defense also claimed – without any evidence to support its claims – that the United States planned to infect Russia, Belarus, Poland and Moldova with typhus and l ‘hepatitis.

During a press briefing, Igor Kirillov, head of the Radiation, Chemical and Biological Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, said that the Science and Technology Center of Ukraine (STCU) is one elements of the[US] system of coordination of activities of biological laboratories and research institutes in Ukraine. It appears, however, that Kirillov used transparent and public information found on the organization’s website as the basis for launching new, unsubstantiated allegations in support of the Kremlin’s broader claim regarding US bioweapons research. on the borders of Russia.

According to Kirillov, the STCU presents itself publicly as a non-profit organization with no connection to the Pentagon, but “it turned out to be an international intergovernmental organization created to prevent the dissemination of knowledge and experience related to weapons of mass destruction” . For its part, the STCU also makes no secret of its affiliation with the United States, the European Union or Ukraine: its website lists US, European Commission and Ukrainian officials as part of its advisory council. administration, and board minutes indicate the involvement of many different departments and ministries within the partner governments.

Kirillov added that the STCU offices are located in Baku, Azerbaijan; Chisinau, Moldova; Tbilisi, Georgia; as well as in Kharkiv and Lviv, Ukraine, implying that each location is complicit. The STCU website lists offices in Baku, Chisinau, Tbilisi and Kyiv.

Screenshot of the STCU website showing its transparent list of field offices in Baku, Azerbaijan;  Kyiv, Ukraine;  Chisinau, Moldova;  and Tbilisi, Georgia.  (Source: CSTU/archives)
Screenshot of the STCU website showing its transparent list of field offices in Baku, Azerbaijan; Kyiv, Ukraine; Chisinau, Moldova; and Tbilisi, Georgia. (Source: CSTU/archives)

Kirillov also presented new “findings”, again without proof, that American and European scientists were taking water samples from major rivers in Ukraine in order to find pathogens of cholera, typhoid fever, Hepatitis A and E, and “spread the infection through water not only on the territory of Russia, but also to infect the entire aquatic area of ​​​​the Black and Azov seas and even Belarus, Moldova and Poland .

In his unsubstantiated claims, Kirillov said the United States had spent more than $350 million on STCU projects in recent years and that the United States Departments of State and Defense, in particular, were sponsors. . This numerical value, however, was possibly an inflation of that found on the STCU website, whose landing page includes an animated graphic that at one point claims to have received “over US$300 million”. in total, without acknowledgment of source, throughout its lifetime.

Screenshot of the STCU website indicating, in part, that he coordinated over US$300 million in research in his lifetime.  The website, however, does not specify the source of this funding.  (Source: CSTU/archives)
Screenshot of the STCU website indicating, in part, that he coordinated over US$300 million in research in his lifetime. The website, however, does not specify the source of this funding. (Source: CSTU/archives)

In a reading of the Kremlin-owned RIA media briefing, the outlet mentions that the identities of those involved in “experiments” have been discovered following what the Kremlin still calls a “special military operation in Ukraine”. The article named people who are all listed on the STCU website in one way or another but whom the DFRLab will not name, as the organization appears to function primarily as a coordinator of scientific research funding between researchers and governments.

There is no evidence that the STCU aids in biological warfare research, as both Kirillov and RIA imply. As such, this represents only the latest statement from the Russian Defense Ministry attempting to justify Russia’s war on Ukraine using false flag narratives that the latter planned to use biological research labs. to produce biological weapons.

—Eto Buziashvili, Research Associate, Washington DC, and Iain Robertson, Associate Editor, Washington DC

Head of separatist Georgia region announces referendum to join Russia

On April 17, Anatoly Bibilov, the “president” of the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia – the leader of the separatists is elected “president” of the region, but the elections take place outside the limits of the official constitution of the Georgia – announced its intention to hold a referendum to approve the region’s incorporation into Russia. According to Bibilov, more than 3,000 signatures supporting the referendum have already been collected. “When many turn their backs, we head [toward Russia] because it is our world. Russia is our historic homeland, and we must never forget that,” Bibilov said.

The group seeking to organize the referendum includes twenty-six people, all of whom registered with South Ossetian election officials on April 6. The group includes Bibilov and former presidents Ludvig Chivirov, Eduard Kokoity and Leonid Tibilov, Civil.ge reported.

The process for organizing a referendum was described by Civil.ge: the group has three months to collect signatures; election officials review signatures before sending them to the “president”; the “president” sends the documents to the highest court in South Ossetia to determine whether the request complies with the region’s extralegal “constitution”; and, if the referendum is approved, the “president” sets a date for the referendum within ten days.

Bibilov voiced his support for South Ossetia joining Russia on March 30, ten days before the election of the region’s “president”; many saw this as a strategic pre-election tactic. After the first round of elections on April 10, opposition candidate Alan Gagloev won 38.55% of the vote, while Bibilov won 34.95%. The second round of voting is set for April 28.

—Sopo Gelava, Research Associate, Tbilisi, Georgia

Associate specialists:
Eto Buziashvili,
Iain Robertson,
Sopo Gelavaand
Roman Osadchuk

Image: Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksiy Danilov speaks to the media in kyiv, Ukraine February 23, 2022. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Amanda J. Marsh