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Countering disinformation with facts - Russian invasion of Ukraine

The Kremlin has long spread disinformation and propaganda to achieve its objectives. It continues to disseminate lies to justify its unprovoked, unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine. Below, you will find a sample of the many lies by the Russian regime about its invasion of Ukraine, along with the truth. This information is based on Government of Canada intelligence.

You can limit the spread of disinformation by knowing how to identify it and being critical about what you read.

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Publication date
DateDepartmentFacts versus Russia’s false claims (YYYY-MM-DD)
2022-08-08Global Affairs Canada

Posted on: 2022-08-08 - Global Affairs Canada

The facts:

  • The sanctions that are in place target Russian leaders and other supporters of President Putin’s regime and his war against Ukraine.
  • The sanctions are not aimed at hurting the Russian population, and there are no sanctions in place that would prevent ordinary Russian citizens from obtaining the necessities of life.
  • The sanctions are meant to reduce President Putin’s capacity to wage war.

Russia’s false claim:

  • The Kremlin claims that sanctions against Russia are hostile and anti-Russian.
2022-08-05National Defence

Posted on: 2022-08-05 - National Defence

The facts:

  • Russia and its proxy forces are preventing the International Committee of the Red Cross from visiting the Olenivka facility to see or speak with the surviving POWs who are held there.
  • Russia first circulated images of High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) rocket components that it claims were used in the strike on August 3, five days after the explosion. There is no evidence that the material displayed by Russia is linked to the events of July 29.
  • Russia has a track record of blocking independent investigation into events in Ukraine, most notably it tried and failed to obscure the circumstances surrounding its downing of a civilian airliner over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Russia’s false claim:

  • Russia claims that the July 29 explosion at the Olenivka penal facility in occupied Ukraine, which killed at least 50 Ukrainian POWs, was the result of a strike conducted by the Ukrainian Armed Forces using Western-supplied weapons systems.
2022-07-28National Defence

Posted on: 2022-07-28 - National Defence

The facts:

  • We expect this year’s Vostok exercise to be far smaller than previous ones, largely due to Russia’s considerable troop shortages caused by high losses in Ukraine. During the last Vostok exercise in 2018, Moscow reportedly sent 300,000 Russian troops to participate.
  • Almost all Russian Army units have been involved in combat in Ukraine. Russia has seen such high casualties across most of its Army units that it is struggling to even find untrained recruits to backfill deployed units.
  • Currently, Russia’s deployed forces in Ukraine are insufficient for it to achieve its stated objective of replacing the government in Kyiv, and Russia will continue to struggle to make even modest tactical progress on the eastern and southern fronts.

Russia’s false claim:

  • Russia claims that it is holding all of its annual military exercises as usual this year, including Vostok, which is typically a large strategic exercise in eastern Russia.
  • Moscow has also indicated that it is using only a part of its available forces in Ukraine, which it claims is sufficient to attain its military objectives.
2022-07-22National Defence

Posted on: 2022-07-22 - National Defence

The facts:

  • Russia has always had maximalist geographic ambitions in Ukraine. Moscow’s failed efforts to capture Kyiv, and the northeastern cities of Chernihiv, Sumy, and Kharkiv at the outset of the invasion demonstrate these significant territorial ambitions far beyond the Donbas.
  • Russian forces have also occupied parts of southern Ukraine since February, which precedes the delivery of recent Western aid to Ukraine that Moscow is using as pretext for expanding military objectives.
  • Due to considerable losses of personnel and equipment, Russia likely no longer has the military capability to achieve its ambitions in Ukraine. It is now being forced to scale down its strategic objectives while providing a new public rationale for the piecemeal territorial control it has achieved.

Russia’s false claim:

  • Russia has claimed that, in response to Western military aid being provided to Ukraine, it has been “forced” to expand its goals beyond the “liberation” of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine to include other major portions of the country.
2022-07-14National Defence

Posted on: 2022-07-14 - National Defence

The facts:

  • In fact, the Ukrainian strikes in Nova Khakova hit a Russian ammunition depot. The depot was part of the military logistics system sustaining Russian forces operating in southern Ukraine.
  • Russia continues to rely primarily on its artillery for its campaign against Ukraine. This is a resource-intensive approach which has led Russia to centralize munitions storage.
  • The concentrated storage of munitions makes such depots vulnerable to catastrophic detonations if hit, and Ukrainian strikes against similar targets will likely challenge Russia’s re-supply capacity.

Russia’s false claim:

  • Russia claims that a recent strike at Nova Khakova in southern Ukraine was a Ukrainian attack against civilian infrastructure, which caused industrial saltpeter (potassium nitrate) stored in a warehouse to detonate.
2022-07-07Communications Security Establishment

Posted on: 2022-07-07 - Communications Security Establishment

The facts:

  • Kremlin officials continue to be directly involved in guiding and coordinating Russia-backed disinformation efforts.
  • Russian disinformation campaigns have falsely blamed Ukrainian radicals for the destruction of chemical and nuclear sites in Ukraine.

Russia’s false claim:

  • Russian disinformation campaigns have made false claims that Ukrainian radicals have planned attacks on chemical and nuclear sites to support accusations that Russia was using these weapons against the Ukrainian population.
2022-07-07National Defence

Posted on: 2022-07-07 - National Defence

The facts:

  • Russia has relied heavily on large-scale artillery bombardment during its recent offensive in eastern Ukraine. This has resulted in widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure and littered large areas with unexploded ordnance, including in Severodonetsk.
  • Ukrainians have had to flee from their homes, businesses, and communities, heavily de-populating areas which Russia has managed to capture.
  • Occupied areas suffer not only from widespread physical damage, but also from economic isolation from the rest of Ukraine and the imposition of Russian-installed authorities.
  • Ukrainians in occupied areas are subjected to arbitrary killings, detention, torture, and forced displacement, as well as other restrictions and human rights violations. There is no prospect of a return to normal life under Russian occupation.

Russia’s false claim:

  • Russian messaging emphasizes the supposed return to normal life and economic activity in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine. A recent example is the claim that a major factory in Severodonetsk, the site of intense fighting last month, will return to work next week.
2022-06-30National Defence

Posted on: 2022-06-30 - National Defence

The facts:

  • The shopping mall was directly hit by a Russian AS-4 cruise missile, which carries a 1000-kilogram warhead.
  • Russia is routinely using these older-model missiles—which are inaccurate by current standards—against built-up areas, resulting in heightened civilian casualties and the destruction of civilian buildings.
  • The strike occurred during daytime hours, and the mall had been open for business in the days leading up to the attack.
  • This mall strike suggests that Russia’s target selection process is likely driven by poor intelligence, limited awareness of activity surrounding target locations, and little or no concern for avoiding civilian casualties and other collateral damage.

Russia’s false claim:

  • Russia has made several false claims about the June 27 strike on a shopping centre in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk, including that the damage was the result of a secondary explosion and that the mall was not in use by civilians.
2022-06-23National Defence

Posted on: 2022-06-23 - National Defence

The facts:

  • Ukraine continues to control the city of Lysychansk. Ukrainian forces south of the city continue to contest the area and degrade Russian elements trying to advance.
  • Russia failed to achieve its initial objective of a broad encirclement of Ukrainian forces in the Donbas. The poor performance of Russian ground formations throughout the war has forced Russia to seek ever-smaller tactical gains that it can claim as battlefield victories.
  • Russian-controlled separatist elements in eastern Ukraine have forcibly mobilized recruits and sent them into combat unprepared and poorly equipped, resulting in very high casualty rates.

Russia’s false claim:

  • Russia claims to have achieved an “operational encirclement” of Ukrainian forces defending Lysychansk, a key city in the battle for control of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
2022-06-17National Defence

Posted on: 2022-06-17 - National Defence

The facts:

  • Most of Russia’s long-range strikes have been against Ukrainian infrastructure. Russia is likely having difficulty targeting the Ukrainian military logistics network and is resorting to easier static targets, including civilian facilities.
  • Russia has also resorted to using older, less-accurate missiles as its strike campaign has significantly depleted its stockpile of more modern munitions while failing to achieve a decisive strategic effect.
  • Now facing unprecedented sanctions, Russian industry and supply chains will have significant difficulty replenishing stocks of advanced munitions and the other large-scale losses of Russian military equipment.

Russia’s false claim:

  • Russia claims that it is successfully targeting shipments of Western-supplied military equipment being provided to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
2022-06-09National Defence

Posted on: 2022-06-09 - National Defence

The facts:

  • Ukraine is actively contesting control of these areas, and it has conducted counterattacks, which have prompted some Russian withdrawals.
  • Russia continues to impose heavy-handed measures on local Ukrainians, including media control, arbitrary arrests, and forced economic integration with Russia, including the seizure of agricultural produce for re-sale.
  • Russia’s invasion has exposed Ukraine’s civilian population to an elevated risk from mines and other unexploded ordinance that will take years to clear.

Russia’s false claim:

  • Russia claims that it is establishing a permanent presence in the southern Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, and that life in these areas is returning to normal.
2022-06-02National Defence

Posted on: 2022-06-02 - National Defence

The facts:

  • Russia has repeatedly attacked civilian infrastructure in and around Odesa with long-range missiles.
  • Elements of the Russian Black Sea Fleet have repeatedly sailed threateningly towards Odesa, forcing Ukraine to maintain defences along the shore and in coastal waters.
  • Russia has occupied and stationed military assets on Ukraine’s Snake (Zmiinyi) Island south of Odesa, raising the collateral threat to merchant shipping in the area.
  • Russia has linked the issue of allowing the safe transit of grain from Odesa to sanctions relief for Russia, showing that it treats its blockade of critical food supplies as a bargaining chip.

Russia’s false claim:

  • Russia claims that it is not blocking export of grain from the Ukrainian port of Odesa, and that a “humanitarian corridor” is available to allow much-needed food supplies to reach global markets.
2022-05-27National Defence

Posted on: 2022-05-27 - National Defence

The facts:

  • Russia routinely trains and deploys mercenary forces, and it has again done so in its invasion of Ukraine.
  • Russian mercenaries are currently attacking Ukrainian forces defending towns in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
  • Leaders and fighters for private Russian military companies typically include right-wing extremists and convicted criminals.
  • Russian mercenaries have a track record of indiscriminate violence and looting in locations around the world, which will only compound the suffering Ukraine has already endured.

Russia’s false claim:

  • Russian law outlaws mercenary forces and a new draft law is set to increase the prison terms for Russians found guilty of mercenary activity.
2022-05-19National Defence

Posted on: 2022-05-19 - National Defence

The facts:

  • Russian troops continue to occupy Kherson and the surrounding region, and have indiscriminately shelled urban areas throughout the invasion.
  • The people of Kherson have strongly and publicly rejected Russia’s occupation, and they clearly do not support the illegitimate local authorities installed by Moscow.
  • Fierce local opposition has forced Russia to cancel plans to hold a quick referendum on separation from Ukraine.
  • Significantly, Russia has resorted to a “Russianization” campaign in Kherson, which includes internet censorship, forced use of Russian currency, and ongoing military occupation to try to suppress dissent.

Russia’s false claim:

  • Russia claims that it has no troops in the city of Kherson, and that Ukrainian forces have attacked the civilian population in retaliation for supporting Russia’s occupation.
2022-05-12National Defence

Posted on: 2022-05-12 - National Defence

The facts:

  • Russia’s war has damaged this season’s crop and is preventing Ukrainian grain from reaching global distribution chains and, therefore, foreign markets.
  • We’ve see evidence that Russian forces have been seizing grain stocks and destroying grain storage facilities in occupied areas.
  • Russia’s invasion has had profound impacts on global food security, constricting Ukraine’s domestic access to grain and leading to a spike in prices internationally, resulting in food insecurity across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Russia’s false claim:

  • Russian officials claim that Ukraine’s western allies want to forcibly export Ukraine’s grain supply to recoup their investments in the country.
2022-05-04National Defence

Posted on: 2022-05-04 - National Defence

The facts:

  • Russia’s air force has failed to establish air supremacy over Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian forces continue to effectively engage Russian aircraft along the frontline with ground-based air defence systems.
  • The contested airspace environment has forced Russia to rely on a dwindling stock of expensive long-range missiles to attack Ukrainian targets rather than further risk its air assets.

Russia’s false claim:

  • Russia routinely claims its air assets have successfully targeted dozens of Ukrainian command posts, fighting positions, and supply depots near the frontlines in the battle for the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
2022-04-28National Defence

Posted on: 2022-04-28 - National Defence

The facts:

  • All of these regions continue to see major fighting as a result of Russia’s invasion.
  • “Peaceful life” has not returned to occupied territory, as Russian forces continue to destroy infrastructure, loot, and suppress dissent in many occupied agricultural areas, in addition to suburban and urban zones.
  • Russia’s invasion has forced millions of Ukrainians to flee their homes in agricultural communities, causing a major disruption to this year’s planting season. This poses a severe risk to regional and global food security, and is causing a spike in global grain prices.

Russia’s false claim:

  • Russia’s National Defence Control Centre claims that “peaceful life” is resuming and that an agricultural push has begun in “liberated” areas of Ukraine, including the Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kherson regions, and parts of the Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, and Mykolaiv regions.
2022-04-14National Defence

Posted on: 2022-04-14 - National Defence

The facts:

  • Russian forces attacked the train station using a “Tochka-U” close range ballistic missile, killing over 50 civilians waiting to evacuate.
  • Russian social media channels initially bragged about the strike, claiming to have hit Ukrainian “militants,” though these posts were later deleted.
  • Russia’s claims that it no longer employs the “Tochka-U” system are false. This strike originated from Russian-occupied territory inside Ukraine.

Russia’s false claim:

  • Ukrainian forces attacked the train station at Kramatorsk on 8 April to force civilians to remain in the conflict zone and use them as human shields.
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