Narratives and Rebuttals: Which Arguments for Ending Support for Ukraine Echo Russian Propaganda

Among the most common arguments cited by opponents of continued support for Ukraine in the USA, there are several that completely coincide with narratives of Russian propaganda.

In researching this topic in the American informational and political space, we have identified such arguments and explained what is wrong with them.

Читати українською

Click here to visit the main page of the Texty.org.ua study on supporting Ukraine in the American political and informational environment.

No weapons for Ukraine or fewer weapons for Ukraine

Argument: Providing weapons to Ukraine will intensify the conflict and prolong the war and bloodshed

Russia will completely occupy Ukraine if it stops defending itself. Russians send hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens to concentration camps, torture and kill them. It happened in Bucha and continues in the occupied territories in the South and East of Ukraine. Ukraine, therefore, has no choice but to continue the fight. Russia constantly claims that Ukrainians do not exist as a nation.

Only providing powerful weapons in sufficient quantities will help defeat the Russian army and stop the war.

Russia also receives military assistance from non-democratic regimes, Iran and North Korea, creating, in fact, an anti-Western alliance of dictators.

Argument: Military aid from the West has not provided breakthrough results, Ukraine continues to lose

Western aid arrived later than needed and in insufficient amounts. Even so, Ukraine managed to liberate some of the occupied territories.

In territories liberated by Ukraine, the torture, rape, and executions of civilians by the Russian military and special services ended. People in these towns and villages greeted Ukrainian troops with tears of joy.

Western air defense protects people and saves lives in the rear cities. Thanks to these weapons, the infrastructure allowing Ukrainian towns to exist remains intact and functioning.

Argument: The United States is depleting its own weapons stockpile and reducing its defense capabilities

90% of all support funds do not go to Kyiv but remain in the US economy. The aid finances American companies that produce weapons and ammunition, and the Pentagon's stockpiles are being replenished.

Providing military assistance to Ukraine has enabled the United States to create thousands of jobs in at least 38 states. Leading arms manufacturers have invested billions of dollars in new businesses, contributing to US national security.

Additionally, Ukraine has become a testing ground for the most advanced American weapons.

This project consists of several separate parts. Read the full text of the study, which includes descriptions of individuals and organizations, an infographic with networks, and a database of the mentioned figures: Full Text of the Study

No funding for Ukraine

Argument: The United States should not spend taxpayer money on other countries

Only 5% of the U.S. defense budget and less than 1% of the country's total government spending has been allocated to help Ukraine. Washington spends the same amount annually on software for government agencies, for example.

The cost of Ukraine's loss in the war will be very high. In addition to millions of lives lost, it will lead to further wars in Europe and other parts of the world, as Russia's goal is to rebuild an empire starting with the borders of the former USSR. By destroying Russian military capabilities today, Ukraine reduces the cost to the United States of defending Europe in the future without risking American lives.

Ukraine's victory also guarantees peace and stability in Europe, which will expand trade and investment with the United States' largest trading partners. This will allow the United States to displace Russia as the leading energy supplier in Europe. The financial benefits for Americans will be enormous.

Ukraine's victory will likely prevent China from occupying Taiwan, and the defense of this free island will cost the United States much more than the war in Ukraine. In a war with China, American soldiers will most likely have to fight in Taiwan.

Argument: The United States should spend money on education, health care, and climate change instead of helping countries at war

By helping Ukraine, the United States is defending the rules-based international order. If the dictator Putin wins, he will plunge the world into chaos and war. Issues such as climate change and women's equality will become secondary. Putin denies global warming, and Russian official ideology proclaims that the rights of women and minorities are a Western evil that must be eradicated. The military victory of this ideology will give an impetus to its spread worldwide.

In addition, 90% of all support funds do not go to Kyiv but remain in the US economy.

Argument: Europe, not the United States, should help Ukraine more because the war is on the European continent

In fact, Europe is increasing funding for Ukraine providing weapons and supporting the economy. Last year, the EU's non-military aid exceeded that of the United States. However, Europe does not have the same military-industrial capabilities and military potential as the United States.

Most of the munitions on which Ukraine depends are produced in the United States, from javelins manufactured in Alabama to guided missile launchers (GMLRS) manufactured in West Virginia, Arkansas, and Texas.

The share of European investment in defense has increased significantly. Before Putin invaded Ukraine, only two European countries spent more than 2% of GDP on defense. Now, 11 NATO members spend more than 2% of GDP on defense, and some countries, such as Poland, pay even more as a percentage of GDP than the United States. In 2023, six European countries increased their defense spending by at least 10% and some by 30%.

"Don't provoke Russia. Beware of World War III"

Argument: Active support for Ukraine could lead to World War III

If Russia wins this war, it will shatter the international order established after World War II and will not stop at Ukraine. Putin's targets will probably be Moldova, Georgia, or even NATO member states in the Baltic region. A Russian victory might also encourage China to attack Taiwan. Supporting Ukraine’s victory is crucial to preventing the spread of war.

Argument: NATO could become directly involved, which would likely involve American troops

If Ukraine fails, the United States would almost certainly need to deploy troops to defend Taiwan, facing a potentially more complicated conflict against China than against a weakened Russia.

Argument: Russia could resort to nuclear weapons if not allowed to win in Ukraine

Putin has repeatedly threatened the West with nuclear weapons. However, Ukraine’s use of British and French-made missiles to strike targets in Russian-occupied Crimea or Ukrainian-made drone strikes deep inside Russia have triggered a nuclear response. Despite its bold declarations, Russia operates within limits set by stronger Western countries, using the threat of nuclear attack to try to expand those limits.

A war involving NATO and Russia won’t likely start if Ukraine significantly weakens Russia’s military capability. If victorious, Putin would begin preparations for military confrontations with NATO countries, particularly the United States.

Moreover, non-nuclear states, seeing that nuclear powers can achieve their goals through intimidation, will be motivated to develop their nuclear arsenals, leading to global instability and confrontations between nuclear-armed blocs.

The Ukrainian war is not our business

Argument: The war in Ukraine is not our business

Supporting Ukraine is morally and ethically justified from a Christian and universal standpoint, as Ukraine is a victim of unprovoked aggression. Politically, it represents a triumph of democracy over imperialist dictatorship. Legally, it involves assisting a nation to defend its internationally recognized borders. From a security perspective, it prevents arbitrary actions by nuclear power and the spread of nuclear weapons globally.

The war in Ukraine is a battle to restore a stable world order. If Ukraine fails to restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity a dangerous precedent for international law will be created in which unpunished crimes encourage current and future violators. It could lead not only to numerous wars but also to widespread human rights abuses worldwide.

Following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, European countries have increased funding for their national security. Europe's total defense spending this year will be about $380 billion.

It will be necessary to enlist the support of the United States for some time. Yet, Europe still needs to be ready to produce defense products in the scale and quantity required.

The United States has much more powerful nuclear weapons — 5,000 warheads. In Europe, the nuclear powers are the United Kingdom and France, but they will not cover the American stockpile. Together, these two countries have 500 nuclear warheads while British weapons are assigned to NATO, but America controls their use. By comparison, Russia has 6,000.

As a result, the United States remains essential to European security and the world order. If it withdraws from European affairs, Putin could take advantage of the vacuum and launch an offensive against Europe, forcing enslaved Ukrainians to fight, using their industrial potential and war experience, as is already happening with the population of the Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Note that the Kremlin propagandists occasionally remind their Russian audience that Alaska belongs to the United States illegally, and its rightful owner is Russia. Russians are also told that Russia is not at war with Ukraine but with the West on the territory of Ukraine.

NATO/USA/Ukraine is also guilty in this war

Argument: NATO's expansion to Eastern Europe provoked the war between Russia and Ukraine

Ukraine has always sought to join NATO precisely because of Russia's threat. NATO, on the other hand, has been lukewarm about Ukraine's aspirations since the collapse of the Soviet Union and has constantly delayed the final decision.

Eastern European countries in the 1990s, like Sweden and Finland today, joined the alliance because Russia threatened them, not vice versa. Most importantly, only after NATO refused membership to Ukraine and Georgia, Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014.

Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 revived the Alliance's purpose. Sweden and Finland, which had long held a neutral position, applied to join NATO. Moscow's aggressive behavior changed their course. Russia has given NATO a new impetus, and new members have joined the bloc.

Argument: Ukraine wanted to join NATO, and Russia could not allow it because it would violate its national security system

This relic of an idea comes from a time when empires ruled the world and has nothing to do with the international system established after World War II. Unsurprisingly, Russia wants to revise the age of empire and return to its colonial-imperial era. The dictator of one large country has no right to determine whether its democratic neighbors join one bloc or another. Unlike Russia, which conquered part of Moldova and part of Georgia after the collapse of the Russian Soviet Empire, Ukraine was at peace. Ukraine was not in a conflict with anyone, and was constantly reducing the size of its army and arsenal. Indeed, Ukraine’s special forces conducted joint training with the Russians.

Ukraine's peaceful intentions are also self-evident given that it voluntarily gave up its nuclear weapons.

Before the Russian invasion, most Ukrainians were friendly to Russians, and many Ukrainians had relatives living in Russia. Seeking to protect itself from Putin's aggressive regime, Ukraine, as a NATO member, would not pose any threat to Russia.

Argument: Ukraine should not become a member of NATO because it will cause even more confrontation

Finland's accession to NATO proved this is a fallacious argument. Russia's reaction to NATO's enlargement, which resulted in a member state directly on its border, was not to criticize Finland but to rhetorically downplay the importance of this event.

Support for joining NATO in Ukrainian society has been growing steadily since 2014, when Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and started the war in Ukraine’s Donbas. Today, a majority of Ukrainians support Ukraine's accession to the Alliance.

The best way to guarantee Euro-Atlantic security is to accept Ukraine into NATO.

Nazi in Ukraine

Argument: Ukraine is a neo-Nazi country

Unlike Russia, Ukraine is a democratic country.

Year after year, Ukraine has been one of the most tolerant countries in Europe toward Jews. In 2019, there were 14 acts of anti-Semitic vandalism in the country, 12 in 2018, and only 8 in 2020. Polls show that anti-Semitic sentiment in Ukraine is among the lowest in the world.

There is not a single far-right political force in Ukraine’s parliament. It is a well-known fact that Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who won 73% of the vote in the presidential election, is Jewish. In fact, following Zelenskyy’s election, other than the state of Israel, Ukraine was the only country to have a Jewish president and a Jewish prime minister. All far-right parties in the last parliamentary polls received only about 2% of the vote, not enough to enter parliament.

In 2021, Ukraine adopted a law on preventing and combating anti-Semitism.

Researchers, journalists, and academics do not support Ukraine's accusations of Nazism. Russia's false claims that its invasion of Ukraine is an attempt to "denazify" the country have been criticized by the Anti-Defamation League, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and dozens of Nazi scholars.

The argument: Azov – is a Nazi organization

During Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2014, Azov was a group of volunteers with a far-right ideology. It has however changed a lot from that time.

The Russian media position Azov as an uncontrolled armed formation that significantly influences the formation of state policy in Ukraine. At the beginning of the war in Ukraine’s Donbas, Azov officially joined the Ministry of Internal Affairs as a part of its police patrol service. Later, it was expanded to a regiment of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and transferred to the National Guard of Ukraine as a separate special forces unit, Azov. Today, it is the 12th Special Forces Brigade of the National Guard of Ukraine. Former Azov leaders with right-wing political backgrounds are now serving in other military units, and Azov itself is a purely military unit without ideological background or political influence.

Argument: Ukraine and Russia are brotherly nations, and the Ukrainian government has spoiled relations between them

Ukraine became part of Muscovy in the second half of the seventeenth century due to an agreement between Ukrainian Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich of Moscow. Khmelnytsky agreed to this because he could not win the war against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth alone. The goal of the war with Poland was Ukraine's autonomy and greater rights.

The agreement with Muscovy provided broad autonomy, but after Khmelnytsky's death, Russia gradually curtailed the rights of Ukrainians. Russia finally absorbed Ukraine in 1709 when Ukrainian Hetman Ivan Mazepa allied with Swedish King Charles XII in the Great Northern War and lost. From then on, the rapid elimination of Ukrainian autonomy began.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, when the peoples of Central Europe, including Ukraine, were swept up in a "national revival," Russia began to systematically ban the Ukrainian language.

The prominent Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, born in the early nineteenth century, was arrested and exiled by the Russian authorities three times.

Nevertheless, Ukrainians in those conditions developed their language and created their own national literature. It was a long and exhausting anti-colonial struggle.

Russia's policy in Ukraine was no different from that of European colonizers in overseas colonies. Yet, there are significant differences in perception: Ukraine was not separated from Russia by a sea. Ukrainians and Russians share the same skin color and are Orthodox. Therefore, even if westerners knew about the Ukrainian struggle, it was not perceived as anti-colonial.

Alongside the struggle for language and identity, Ukraine saw popular uprisings against serfdom and harsh living conditions, culminating in the Ukrainian People's Republic (UPR) proclamation of independence in 1918.

The UPR army fought against Russian Bolsheviks, supporters of Czarist Russia (the so-called White Guard toops), and Poles who claimed part of Ukraine. Unfortunately, the UPR fell. To gain the loyalty of Ukrainians, the Bolsheviks created the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. When Moscow consolidated its power, the leaders of the Ukrainian SSR were shot, and an artificial famine was created for Ukrainian peasants, killing about 4 million Ukrainians. Almost all cultural figures were also killed, and only those who adapted and began to praise the Communist Party and the "older Russian brother" in time survived. This phenomenon is now called the "Executed Renaissance."

After the fall of the Ukrainian People's Republic in the interwar period, a new movement for the restoration of Ukrainian independence emerged.

The armed struggle for an independent Ukraine continued during and after World War II against all hostile forces, leading to the repression of about half a million Ukrainians by the Communists in 1944-1954 on suspicion of involvement in this movement. Ukrainians, who had experience in armed struggle underground and organizational work during their imprisonment in the Gulag, organized mass uprisings in Norilsk and Kengir. It led to the Soviet leadership's realization of its inability to control even the camps and caused a "thaw" and condemnation of the "cult of Stalin."

In the 1960s, the Ukrainian dissident movement gained strength. The essence was that those who disagreed with the USSR's colonial policy openly expressed their views despite knowing they would be imprisoned — and they were. Today, they are known as the Sixtiers.

They were inspired by an article distributed underground by the Ukrainian intellectual Ivan Dziuba entitled "Internationalism or Russification." In it, he argued that a deliberate Russification was taking place under the guise of friendship of nations. You could lose your job or even go to jail for reading this article.

Ukraine has always fought against Russian colonialism, but the West did not see this struggle.

Russia is also trying to appropriate the name "Kyivan Rus" and trace its history back to this medieval state. Ukraine, on the other hand, believes that it is the heir to Rus. In his course on Ukrainian history, Yale University Professor Timothy Snyder explained why Kyivan Rus is not well-known in Russia. He calls ancient Russia Mongolian Rus because this state was part of the Golden Horde for about 300 years. The lecture notes on Muscovy in Ukrainian are here.

The "fraternal peoples" and "one people" myths are artificial. The concept of "fraternal peoples" is a product of Soviet propaganda to replace the Russian imperial concept of a "triune people." It is an attempt to forcibly link Ukrainian history to Russian history and deny the right of Ukrainians and Belarusians to exist.

Argument: Putin is defending the Orthodox religion

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine is a recognized institution in the Orthodox world. As of December 2023, 42% of Ukrainians among all respondents consider themselves faithful, according to a sociological study by the Razumkov Center. The OCU supports Ukraine in its fight against Russian occupation.

Ukraine also has the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), part of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). Following Russia’s full-scale invasion, the UOC-MP claimed that it had separated from the ROC, but these statements have not been substantiated. Priests of the UOC-MP often helped soldiers of the occupation army, some of whom repeated Putin's thesis that Ukrainians do not exist. Such individuals are being prosecuted, but the UOC-MP churches are functioning, and the faithful gather without restrictions with their clergy. According to the above survey, only 6% of Ukrainians consider themselves loyal to the UOC-MP.

However, in the territories occupied by Russia, only priests of the UOC-MP have the right to hold services, while other clergy are abducted, tortured, and banned from holding services.

Priests of the OCU and pastors of Protestant churches are being persecuted with particular cruelty. "Let's take them to the Moscow priest first. Let him decide whether to shoot or not." After the debate with the pastor, the Moscow priest said: "Okay, you have a lot of kids. You have 24 hours to get out of here," Hennadiy Mokhnenko, a Pentecostal pastor from Mariupol, recounts the story of his colleague.

It should be emphasized that the Russian Orthodox Church is involved in the deportation of Ukrainians from the temporarily occupied territories and raises funds to help the Russian army. Patriarch Kirill preaches in cermons that the death of a Russian soldier in this war will cleanse him of all his sins.

According to reporting from the BBC's Ukrainian service, participants of the Russian People's Council under the leadership of Moscow Patriarch Kirill issued an "order", in which they described the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a "holy war", where Moscow defends the world from the "demonized West."

Argument: The Orthodox religion is being banned in Ukraine

The OCU, the most popular Orthodox church in Ukraine, has no problems with the Ukrainian state.

The Ukrainian government has not banned any church, including the UOC-MP. What the Ukrainian government is demanding is that the UOC-MP withdraw from the Russian Orthodox Church, which not only supports Russian aggression against Ukraine, but also directly participates in it.

Argument: The Russian military was not involved in massacre of civilians in Bucha

In early April 2022, the Ukrainian military completely liberated the town of Bucha in the Kyiv region from Russian occupation. A large number of dead civilians were found on the streets and in houses. As of April 12, 403 bodies had been found.

Russia denies any involvement in war crimes and launched several disinformation campaigns, including on Facebook. Users of the social network spread different versions of why Russia allegedly bears no responsibility.

Moreover, some versions from the same pro-Russian sources contradict each other. For example, the first version attributes the deaths of civilians to the actions of the Azov regiment, while the second version attributes them to artillery fire from the Ukrainian Armed Forces. In some versions, the people murdered are called "crisis actors."

This is a classic Russian propaganda technique - to put forward different versions of events, often contradictory, but with the same key message, in this case, that it was not Russia.

The New York Times published a detailed map with the locations of the killings, photographs, eyewitness accounts and stories of the victims.

Force Ukraine to negotiate

Argument: Russia wants to negotiate, Ukraine does not want peace, we need to force it to negotiate

Ukraine has always wanted peace. Zelenskyy's election campaign was based on the fact that he would negotiate peace with Putin. And he tried to do so. However, Russia demanded complete surrender, turning Ukraine into its vassal, like today's Belarus. Today, having been motivated by the absence of American aid, Russia hopes to completely destroy Ukraine through military action and is not taking any steps toward a real ceasefire.

Declarations of peace are nothing more than a military ruse. At the beginning of the war in 2014-2015, the then President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko negotiated several ceasefires with the Russians, which resulted only in Russia's accumulation of forces, a new offensive and new Ukrainian losses. The Russians have not changed, and new ceasefires will end the same way, but the scale of new losses will be greater.

The only way to force Russia to comply with any agreement is to have sufficient force. Ukraine needs to be able to defend itself and only then will any agreement have weight.

Attempts to achieve peace by forcing Ukraine to make concessions to Russia are akin to trying to persuade a rape victim to marry her rapist and then claiming that the problem has been solved.

Russia is militarizing its economy, which indicates that it is preparing for a long war. There is no sign of de-escalation of its stated goals in Ukraine, and no one has found a realistic way to get Russia to change its rhetoric that does not imply military defeat.

Argument: Russia, as a superpower, deserves concessions, and it is impossible to defeat Russia

According to this logic, all great powers that want to occupy a smaller country deserve concessions. This is the imperialist world of the past that Russia wants to establish.

According to Ukrainian sociologists conducting telephone surveys among Russians in Russia, about 45% of Russians would painlessly agree to the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine (as of August 2023). The Kremlin's internal propaganda will easily justify any decision made by the dictator.

Argument: Ukraine cannot defeat Russia on the battlefield

Despite the predictions of analysts and intelligence services, Ukraine withstood the first wave of the Russian invasion in 2022. A significant part of the territory was liberated: Kyiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson regions. This proves that the Ukrainian army is capable of inflicting defeats on Russia if it has the right weapons and proper supplies.

And even a temporary delay in the necessary assistance demonstrates that Ukrainians are not inferior to Russia. In particular, despite the lack of its own navy, Kyiv was able to minimize the threats posed by the Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF). A large number of Russian BSF ships have been destroyed.

Argument: Russia wants peace

Since the collapse of the USSR (which was largely due to the invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent protracted war), Russia has occupied parts of Georgia, part of Moldova, has fought in Syria, and is fighting with mercenaries in Sudan and the Central African Republic. And by invading Ukraine, Putin has unleashed the largest war in Europe since World War II.

Ukraine’s Maidan was a coup

Argument: The Maidan was provoked by the West

In 2013, Ukrainians came out in peaceful protests when then-President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement under pressure from Russia. The agreement was a roadmap for Ukraine's European integration that was supported by Ukrainian society. After difficult negotiations with Putin, Yanukovych refused to sign the agreement, despite overwhelming popular support. The protests became truly large-scale after the brutal beating of student protesters by law enforcement on December 1, 2013. Under the pressure of mass protests in the winter of 2013-2014, in which millions of Ukrainians participated, Yanukovych fled the country. These events were called the Revolution of Dignity. The last three days of these events are described in detail here.

Argument: Maidan was an unconstitutional coup

Russia asserts the main goal of the coup d'état was to seize power by conspirators for their own narrow self-interests, yet in reality, Ukraine held free elections after the Maidan and following Yanukovych fleeing Ukraine. Those elections were won by Petro Poroshenko, who, although he was a participant in the Maidan, was not in a leadership position. During the Maidan, no one had any idea who would lead the country, and there were no suggestions that Poroshenko might run for the presidency.

The Revolution of Dignity is on a par with the Prague Spring, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the anti-communist protests in Hong Kong. The common features are the desire to get rid of the dictatorship and join the free, democratic Western world. In Ukraine, as in similar events in Eastern Europe, an important motive was the slogan "Away from Moscow," which is associated with the famous Ukrainian intellectual Mykola Khvylov, who was shot dead by the Russians.

Support for Crimean and Donbas referendum + Donbas War was a civil war

Argument: Kyiv authorities started a civil war in Ukraine to suppress protests in the East of the country

It was not the Revolution of Dignity, but Russian interference that led to the war in eastern Ukraine and the occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. In order to incite hatred, Russian propaganda spread fakes about violent right-wing Euromaidan activists who allegedly wanted to crack down on the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine’s Donbas and the Crimean peninsula. But these fakes were only a backdrop and cover for Russian paramilitary structures, which, taking advantage of the weakness of the authorities in Kyiv, began to seize cities in Donbas.

Later, the so-called and self-proclaimed commander in chief of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) admitted that it was Russia that started and supported the war in Ukraine’s Donbas.

Пізніше колишній так званий головнокомандувач збройних формувань «ДНР» Ігор Гіркін (Стрєлков) розповів, що саме росіяни розпочали воєнні дії.

Argument: In Donbas, Ukraine fought against its own population, not against Russia

The war in Ukraine’s Donbas was waged by Russian proxy forces, commanded by Russian military personnel who received weapons from Russia and were trained there. The combatant backbone of these forces was also Russian. Yes, locals joined them, some under duress, some because they could not find work, as almost all industry had stopped after the occupation, while some for ideological reasons. But before 2014, there was no organized separatist movement in the Donbas, and even Russian propaganda never mentioned the "people of Donbas" anywhere.

The presence of Russia was recognized by OSCE investigators and Bellingcat: thousands of Russian soldiers took part in battles in eastern Ukraine and were awarded medals.

In November 2022, a court hearing in the Netherlands concluded with the verdict in absentia against four defendants accused of involvement in the downing of Boeing flight MH17 over the Donbas in July 2014. Then 298 people died - all passengers and crew. Formally, four Russian puppets, led by Igor Girkin, were charged. The investigation has already proven that Russia is behind this crime. The court recognized the prosecution's version that it was the Russian Federation that controlled the "DPR". In addition, the judges determined on the basis of confirmed evidence that flight MH17 was shot down by a Buk missile system from the temporarily occupied Pervomaisk and that the missile was fired deliberately.

The war in eastern Ukraine, which began in 2014, has never been and is not a civil war.

Argument: In 2014, a referendum was held in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsular, where Crimeans voted in favor of joining Russia.

Russia is known for consistently producing predictable and favorable outcomes in elections and referendums. This is illustrated by Putin's recent reelection and historical elections in the USSR, where the Communists always emerged victorious. Discussing the referendum in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula is seriously challenging; how can there be a genuine expression of will when armed individuals patrol the streets and the FSB (Russia’s security services) detains those who oppose annexation?

Argument: The DPR and LPR were formed by Ukrainian citizens who do not support Nazism as a response to the coup d'état

In March 2014, rallies favoring joining Russia were held in Donetsk and Luhansk. People were brought from the Russian border to participate in pro-Russian rallies.

In April, armed people (locals and Russian citizens) began to seize city authorities in Ukraine’s Donbas. The operation was led by Russian army officers. The separatists proclaimed the "DPR" (Donetsk People’s Republic) on April 7, 2014 and the "LPR" (Luhansk People’s Republic) on April 27, 2014. Even the Russians who took part in those events are openly talking about it.

Argument: Crimea is ethnically Russian territory

Hitler made the same argument when he invaded the Czech Sudetenland, home to ethnic Germans. If borders are changed based on the ethnicity of the population, Eastern Europe will erupt in conflicts.

In Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union pursued a deliberate policy of replacing the indigenous population (ethnic cleansing). In 1944, the Soviet authorities deported Crimean Tatars, the indigenous ethnic group of Crimea, to Uzbekistan.

After the end of World War II, the Soviet authorities forcibly relocated Russians and partially Ukrainians from the central regions of Russia and Ukraine to Crimea.

Those Crimean Tatars who managed to survive were able to return home only after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the establishment of an independent Ukrainian state.

Argument: Crimeans have always wanted to be part of Russia

Chinese propaganda claims that the majority of Taiwanese want to join China. The thesis of great powers about the mood of a province of a neighboring country they claim cannot be considered a serious argument.

The majority of Crimean residents supported Ukraine's independence in a fair referendum in December 1991. At that time, Ukraine had only been independent for a few months, and even if it wanted to, it could not forcefully override the will of its citizens.

Argument: Ukraine bombed the Donbas because it is ethnically Russian territory

The majority of the population of Ukraine’s Donbas, according to the last Ukrainian census of 2001, were ethnic Ukrainians, with ethnic Russians making up a small minority. Orthodox Christians are the most numerous religious group in the Donbas. This largely coincides with the ethnic and religious distribution of the population in other regions of Ukraine.

After the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, Russian paramilitary forces crossed the border into Donbas and started an armed conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Argument: Donbas is historically territory of Russia

Most of the territories that are called Ukraine’s Donbas today (part of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts) have been part of all previous forms of Ukrainian statehood. It was home to the Zaporozhian Sich, and these lands were part of the Ukrainian People's Republic, and after the Soviet occupation, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Donbas was part of the Zaporozhian Sich a hundred years before the United States bought the state of Louisiana from France.

According to the 1897 imperial census, the majority of the Donbas population spoke Ukrainian at the time.

A hundred years ago (1917-1922), Russia also tried to conquer Ukraine. And the modern-day Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts put up armed resistance to Moscow along with other parts of Ukraine. The Russians managed to win, establish their power, and annex Ukraine to the Bolshevik state. After that, the process of Russification began in the Soviet Union.

During the referendum on December 1, 1991, 83.9% of residents of Donetsk and Luhansk regions answered "yes" to the question "Do you confirm the Act of Independence of Ukraine?".

Ukraine is an inaccessible state

Argument: Ukraine is an entirely corrupt country

It is one of the critical statements about Ukraine that Russian propaganda is trying to impose on the West.

Ukraine is no less or more corrupt than other countries with a similar level of development. Nevertheless, as Ukraine seeks to join the EU, it is making significant efforts to overcome corruption. On the other hand, corruption is a common phenomenon in Russia, and no one tries to fight it if the corrupt official is loyal to Putin.

Since 2014, Ukraine has been one of the few countries with good prospects for democracy and, consequently, for reducing corruption. Ukraine's Corruption Perceptions Index, calculated by Transparency International, decreased from 146 in 2014 to 116 in 2021, and Freedom House considers Ukraine almost fully democratic.

In June 2022, the EU granted Ukraine candidate status. The next step for the EU is to formulate a negotiation mandate and start membership talks.

Ukraine's success in fighting corruption and building an anti-corruption infrastructure caused these decisions. Independent observers and EU officials have noted progress in judicial reform.

The argument is that the international aid Ukraine receives is being stolen.

During a March 2023 hearing, representatives of the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the U.S. Department of Defense Inspector General reported to the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee that "there is no evidence that U.S. assistance to Ukraine has been misused."

Argument: A network of secret American biolabs operated on the territory of Ukraine

This is an old Russian fake.

There have never been any American secret laboratories for the development of biological weapons on the territory of Ukraine. In contrast, cooperation with the United States in preventing the spread of technologies, pathogens, and knowledge that could be used in the development of biological weapons was conducted at the official level.

For example, in 2005, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense under which the United States helped modernize Ukrainian laboratories, conduct research, and improve security to prevent outbreaks of dangerous infectious diseases. The Biological Threat Reduction Program clearly states that Ukrainian biological laboratories are owned and controlled by the Ukrainian government alone.

The Soviet Union had its own biological weapons program, and after its collapse, dangerous biological materials remained on the territory of Ukraine. Therefore, the United States initiated a program to prevent the development of biological weapons. It operates in 27 countries worldwide, including those that share borders with Russia: Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan. Moreover, until 2014, this program also worked in Russian laboratories.

Argument: Ukraine is a divided country

The courageous struggle of Ukrainian citizens in the war against Russia demonstrates the unity of Ukraine. For years, Russia has been trying to portray Ukraine as a divided country.

While Ukrainians speak different languages and have different political views, they share common values: they value their freedom and their state. That's why after the Russian attack, they take to the streets when the government violates their rights or laws and defend their land when Russia attacks.

The 2014 parliamentary elections showed that political divisions are over. Most nationwide voters supported the Ukrainian armed forces that professed the slogan "Away from Moscow" and sought European integration. The results of the 2019 presidential election once again demonstrated this trend. The map of voter support for Zelensky in the second round of the presidential election is here.

Argument: Ukraine/Zelensky is a US puppet

Russia calls all Ukrainian presidents puppets of someone: either the United States, Soros, or Ukrainian oligarchs.

Russia rejects the possibility of Ukraine's existence as an independent state (which is why peace is impossible now) and in an attempt to devalue it, calls the president and the country, a puppet.

In fact, articles and books published about the beginning of the war have revealed the United States did not plan to seriously support Ukraine but was preparing to evacuate Zelenskyy and his government and support guerrilla warfare. Ukrainians' desire to defend their country drew public opinion to Ukraine's side, and only after that did Zelenskyy manage to get significant military assistance.

Before the war, the United States’s commitment to Ukraine could be considered weak having not appointed an ambassador to Ukraine for three years (from May 2019 to May 2022).

Russia will not suffer as a result of our sanctions + Sanctions harm ordinary Russian civilians

The argument: Sanctions do not harm Russia. They only harm the West.

The primary rationale for sanctions against Russian exports has always been simple: it is an essential source of revenue for the Russian state, money that is then used to finance the war in Ukraine.

Western countries' belated and cautious imposition of energy sanctions contributed to Russia's record export revenues in 2022. It likely contributed to its ability to finance the war in Ukraine. For example, Babina et al. (2023) argue that although the EU oil embargo only came into effect in December 2022, it already has had a significant impact on Russian export revenues, while an earlier EU oil embargo and/or price caps by the G7 countries immediately after the invasion could have reduced Russia's oil export revenues by up to $50 billion, or about a third.

Every dollar that Russia loses is one dollar less to spend on the war in Ukraine.

The Kremlin does not publicly recognize that economic sanctions are hurting the Russian economy.

The sanctions have not worked as well or as quickly as Western governments had hoped. However, this does not mean that they will not work at all or will not affect the Russian economy in the future. It has not yet been possible to stop the war in this way. Despite not all sanctions having begun to work as intended and as stated, some will indeed be effective in the future. The argument of Russian propaganda about recognizing the defeat of the sanctions policy is another manipulation.

China and India, which have become the primary consumers of Russian energy resources, guarantee the current survival of the Russian economy. Internal injections into the Russian military-industrial complex also guarantee this. It gives the Russian leadership grounds to talk about success today. However, over time, the limit of the infusion will be reached, after which the Russian leadership will have to choose between financing the war and supporting its citizens.