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Anti-propaganda site finds subtle Russia-leaning messages in mainstream media

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Source: www.president.gov.ua

Anti-disinformation site Propastop has looked at three articles which appeared in serious media publications over the Christmas break and which have embedded within them messages which could aid in perpetuating Russia's narrative in relation to its invasion of Ukraine.

Propastop says the narratives contained the articles in question may reflect an underlying strategy by Russia aimed at shaping international opinions and decisions, particularly on military aid to Ukraine.

In fomenting concerns about possible future conflicts, Russia might be seeking to put off or delay the supply of arms to Ukraine, Propastop says.

The various articles emerged in both the German and US media, Propastop says, which provided insights into Russia's stance on negotiations, hints of any potential NATO attack, along with a clandestine plan to push Ukraine towards negotiations.

One article in German daily Bild appeared to imply caution in sending arms to Ukraine, linked to a posited need to retain resources for some unforeseen future challenge, ie. to prioritize domestic preparedness over international aid.

Meanwhile a separate but related Bild piece also suggested that Washington and Berlin have devised a strategic plan which, the article claimed, pressures Ukraine to negotiate with Russia or at least consider freezing the current conflict, to encourage a diplomatic resolution as opposed to further military aid.

Another article published in the New York Times implies that Russia's leader is already humiliated and seeks a favorable deal, which would also require refraining from sending arms to Ukraine and instead engaging in negotiations with Putin, stressing this could bring a peace which was still amenable to the West.

Entitled "Plant Putin schon bald den nächsten Angriff?" the Bild piece posits a potential attack on a NATO country around the winter of 2024/25,citing an unnamed source.

Bild is, Propastop says, a tabloid newspaper; one of the article's authors, Julian Röpcke, has faced criticism for reporting unverified information in the past.

Meanwhile the New York Times article titled "Putin Quietly Signals He Is Open to a Cease-Fire in Ukraine" was published online on December 23; in it, a former senior Russian official claims that Putin is willing to halt military advancements though would stop short of withdrawal, signaling a desire for normalcy despite setbacks, while President Zelenskyy doubts Russian willingness to negotiate, according to the piece.

This represents a change in Putin's position since it no longer insists on Zelenskyy's government's exit from office, and would retain a sovereign Ukraine with Kyiv as its capital

One of the article's authors, Anton Troianovski, was born in Moscow, moving back there in January 2018. He has traveled to three Russian-controlled disputed territories, from Crimea to the Kuril Islands, and has peddled the narrative of Ukraine as a "fractured country."

Another Bild piece from Christmas eve, "Strategie von Scholz und Biden enthüllt. Neuer Geheimplan für die Ukraine," also by Julian Röpcke, says Chancellor Scholz and President Biden aim to strategically position Ukraine for negotiations with Russia, supplying only enough arms to retain the current front, but not enough to retake occupied territories in Donbas and Crimea.

The claims have been refuted by both Germany and the U.S., Propastop reports.

The original Propastop piece is here.

Propastop is staffed by Defense League (Kaitseliit) volunteers and publishes articles in German and Russian, as well as in Estonian and in English.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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