Russian Politics in the Post-Soviet Space

Review of Russia’s Policy in the Post-Soviet Space/Russian Aggression in Ukraine: Key Messages of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Author: Mamuka Komakhia, Analyst

Review period:  February 24 – June 30, 2022

 

See also the 50th publication which reviews the developments from February 21 to March 3, the 51st publication  which recounts Moldova’s response, the 52nd publication which covers the response of the Central Asian countries and the 53rd publication – about the response of Azerbaijan and Armenia to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

Introduction

Maria Zakharova, the Director of the Information and Press Department and an official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, conducts weekly briefings for journalists on behalf of the Ministry. She also answers journalists’ questions on various foreign policy issues. Ms. Zakharova, being the face of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, regularly voices Russia's foreign policy messages. After Russia's military aggression in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, one of the main topics of her speeches is the issues related to the military aggression. This publication recounts the issues upon which Maria Zakharova focused in her speeches. Her deputy, Alexey Zaitsev, also conducted briefings several times.

Key Messages

  • The briefings of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia are characterized by the spread of the Kremlin’s propaganda narratives, extreme cynicism, the falsification of facts and blaming the Ukrainian authorities and the West through the dissemination of these fake facts.
  • During the briefings, representatives of the Ministry often use historical facts where the opponents (Ukraine, Western countries) represent the dark side of history and Russia - the bright side and the liberator. Russia often uses the terms neo-Nazis and fascists to refer to the opposing side.
  • In statements of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Russia's military aggression in Ukraine is referred to as a “special military operation” whose main goals are: protection of people who have suffered abuse and genocide for eight years, holding the puppet regime accountable and the demilitarization and the denazification of Ukraine.
  • The legitimate government of Ukraine is referred to as the Kyiv regime and as a Western puppet government which came to power in 2014 as a result of the West supported anti-constitutional coup d'état.
  • Russia's main accusations against the Ukrainian government refer to the developments after 2014 when after the pro-Russian President, Viktor Yanukovych, fled the country and Russia annexed Crimea as well as openly supported the separatist movement in the Donetsk and the Luhansk regions and became involved in the war against Ukraine. The Kremlin accuses Kyiv of the genocide of civilians in Donbas for the last eight years.
  • Weekly briefings by the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are dedicated to the assertation that the Russian Armed Forces are not conducting missile, air or artillery strikes on Ukrainian cities and civilian infrastructure. On the contrary, they constantly emphasize the fact that the Russian military forces are trying to provide humanitarian corridors while Ukrainian military groups are impeding these efforts.
  • The briefings also emphasize military-biological activities in biolaboratories on the territory of Ukraine which are carried out with the support of the USA. The topic of biolaboratories is part of the Kremlin's anti-Western propaganda and is often used against Georgia as well.
  • Russia accuses the West of arming Ukraine and escalating the conflict which aims at prolonging the conflict according to the Kremlin.
  • Russia accuses the West of sending volunteers and mercenaries to Ukraine. Russia also mentions fighters from Georgia when referring to the number of volunteers.

Weekly Briefings of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Note:  The text of the briefings given below cites the terms and the vocabulary used by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia.

Briefing of February 25, 2022

On February 25, Maria Zakharova held the first briefing after the start of the war in Ukraine and spoke about the reasons and the objectives for launching the so-called special military operation.

  • The President of Russia, in accordance with Article 51 of  Chapter VII of the UN Charter, with a sanction of the Council of the Russian Federation and an agreement which was ratified on February 22 on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance with the so-called People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, made a decision to conduct a special military operation.
  • The goals of the operation are:
    • The protection of people who have been subject of abuse and genocide for eight years by the Kyiv regime which came to power in 2014 as a result of an anti-constitutional coup d'état.
    • Hold the puppet regime accountable for crimes committed against civilians, including citizens of the Russian Federation, over a period of eight years.
    • Demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine.
  • For eight years, we have made maximum efforts to stop the Kyiv regime’s punitive operations against its own people and resolve the conflict in Donbas by peaceful and political-diplomatic methods. However, unfortunately, we were ignored. Kyiv, with the support of the West, avoided fulfilling its obligations under the Minsk agreements by all means. Ukrainian authorities violated their own constitution and legislation, and passed discriminatory laws regarding language, education and the local indigenous population.
  • The USA and certain Western countries are running a large-scale anti-Russian disinformation campaign. They actively supplied Ukraine with weapons, sent their military instructors and conducted large-scale military exercises.
  • The Russian Armed Forces does not carry out missile, aviation or artillery strikes on Ukrainian cities. We only damage the military infrastructure, anti-aircraft defense systems, military airfields and the aviation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. We do not specifically pose any threat to the civilian population.
  • On February 24, we received a notification from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine about the severance of diplomatic relations. It is not our choice. The severing of diplomatic relations is a logical consequence of the deliberate Russophobic policy of Kyiv’s authorities which began with the bloody coup in 2014.
  • All of this confirms our old conclusions that the current government, the Kyiv regime, human puppets who have declared themselves the rulers of this land, are deprived of real sovereignty. The only thing that the Kyiv regime can do is to follow the instructions coming from the other side of the ocean. However, at the same time, it cannot always do this successfully and in favor of the interests of the Ukrainian people. We sincerely believe that the Ukrainian people will be freed from the oppression of a nationalist government which exploits the country for the benefits of foreign players.
  • At the first briefing held after the war, Maria Zakharova spoke extensively about the prerequisites for the Ukrainian side to break diplomatic relations with Russia for which she fully blamed the Ukrainian government. Ms. Zakharova also spoke at length about an attack of some Western countries on the Russian media. According to her, some Western countries are using anti-Russian hysteria to destroy the Russian media once and for all and, ultimately, block alternative sources of mainstream information. She especially blamed Washington and London for this.

Briefing of March 3, 2022

  • “We face an unprecedented information attack and information terrorism. This applies not only to the media but also to the cyber environment. This attack comes from the West and is carried out using, among other things, Ukrainian resources and capabilities. The attack is aimed at disseminating disinformation among the international community and discrediting Russia's actions. Due to this, we have to explain again the true essence of the current processes,” Maria Zakharova said. This time as well, she cited the opinions expressed during the February 25 briefing and named the eight-year anti-people and anti-Russian policy of the Kyiv regime as the reason for the special military operation. Ms. Zakharova again stated that this Kyiv regime came to power as a result of a series of unconstitutional actions organized by the West on the territory of Ukraine.
  • Maria Zakharova accused the West of supplying Ukraine with a large number of weapons.
  • It is necessary to study archival documents. We will publish these documents so that everyone knows what the Ukrainian authorities did during this eight-year period. We should know that bandits using Western weapons are actually representatives of punitive battalions (Azov, Donbas, Right Sector) using Nazi symbols.
  • The Ukrainian Armed Forces and neo-Nazis use civilians as human shields, placing weapons in residential areas which the Western media does not broadcast. They do not evacuate the civilian population and try their best to keep them in “hot spots.” Such tactics are used by terrorists.
  • Unlike neo-Nazi battalions which deliberately destroy and disable critical infrastructure, the Russian military does everything to ensure the safety of such facilities. Maria Zakharova cited the smooth operation of the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia NPPs as an example.
  • People are discriminated against on racial grounds in Ukraine, including people who are from African and Asian countries. In Ukraine, students from these countries are beaten, citizens of those countries which refused to reprimand Russia are attacked and Africans who want to leave Ukraine are treated rudely. Anti-Semitism, xenophobia and racial discrimination flourish in Ukraine. These are the events that we have been talking about constantly for the past eight years and that have not been noticed by the West.
  • Maria Zakharova singled out US military-biological activities in Ukraine. She, based on information published in the Western media resources, said that the spread of various diseases in the region may be connected with the military-biological activities of the USA in Ukraine.
  • Ms. Zakharova also evaluated a resolution of the UN General Assembly, entitled Aggression against Ukraine. According to her, Western countries, under the leadership of the USA, did everything to gain a lot of support for the resolution. For this, they used methods of pressure on delegations of other countries, including extortion, attempted bribery and threats of sanctions.

Briefing of March 9, 2022

  • The special military operation of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine continues as planned. The operation has a coercive nature and is the result of the eight-year aggression of the Kyiv regime against Donbas.
  • The lion's share in the creation of the crisis belongs to NATO member states which encourage and support the Russophobic policy of Kyiv and not only recognized the Kyiv regime but also participated in the anti-constitutional coup of 2014.
  • These days, our suspicions about the production of biological materials for military purposes by the USA on the territory of Ukraine, which are supervised by the relevant American special services, have been confirmed. This was not only confirmed by operational information but also announced by the US Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland.
  • The goals of the special military operation do not include either the occupation of Ukraine, the destruction of its statehood or the overthrow of the current government. It is not directed against civilians. We have to repeat this because of the scale of disinformation that the Western special services are working on in the relevant media.
  • National battalions and mercenaries from some countries of the Middle East and Western Europe who are fighting in these battalions use civilians as “human shields,” place combat positions in residential houses and civilian sites. Such tactics are used by “Islamic State” terrorists. Information about humanitarian corridors is deliberately not communicated to the population.
  • Ms. Zakharova explained the establishment of control over the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia NPPs by the Russian military with the need to prevent Ukrainian nationalists or other terrorist groups from organizing nuclear provocations.
  • We condemn the anti-Russian campaign stirred up in the West. The openly Russophobic propaganda of the mainstream media and the principles far from tolerance and humanism expressed by Western politicians have the most destructive consequences for them.

Briefing of March 17, 2022  

  • Maria Zakharova started the briefing by talking about the day of the annexation of Crimea by Russia (March 18, 2014).
  • Ms. Zakharova again accused the West of disinformation and emphasized that the special operation is not directed against the population of Ukraine and it is not aimed at occupying the territory of the country or destroying its statehood and overthrowing the current president.
  • Maria Zakharova expressed concern about the methods of the Ukrainian side of conducting hostilities and called the strikes in the center of Donetsk a barbaric terrorist act and the information about the bombing of the Mariupol theater by the Russian side - a lie.
  • Ukrainian nationalists continue to deny civilians the opportunity to use humanitarian corridors, forbidding them to evacuate in the direction of Russia and directing them to evacuate only toward Western Ukraine as well as shooting them in the back in the case of resistance.
  • Ukraine will ultimately realize the need for a peaceful solution to the tasks of demilitarization and denazification and turn Ukraine into a neutral state for the benefit of its own and the European populations.
  • This time, Maria Zakharova also touched on the facts of military-biological activities in biolaboratories on the territory of Ukraine. The main culprit was named to be the USA.
  • Maria Zakharova spoke about documents left by members of right-wing extremist groups in settlements in Donbas recently occupied by Russians which she believes highlight their ties to NATO and neo-Nazism.
  • Regarding the Chernobyl NPP, Ms. Zakharova said that the Russian military controls the plant in such a way that it does not harm its safety. In this, they cooperate with the Ukrainian military and relevant international organizations.

Briefing of March 24, 2022  

Maria Zakharova’s statements one month after the start of the war:

  • The objectives of the special military operation have not changed, the operation is going according to the plan and all the declared objectives will be achieved.
  • The Russian military is wary of civilians and provides humanitarian corridors which is obstructed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the nationalist battalions in their composition.
  • Ukrainian embassies invite volunteers and mercenaries from abroad to participate in combat operations which is unprecedented in history. NATO member states are actively supplying Ukraine with weapons which will not only prolong the hostilities but also lead to unpredictable results.
  • Ukrainian fighters have created serious risks for navigation in the Black and other seas. About 60 ships are unable to leave Ukrainian ports due to 400 mines installed near Ukrainian port cities.
  • Maria Zakharova did not leave the topic of biolaboratories unattended this time either. She focused on a briefing of Igor Kirilov, the Head of the Radiation, Chemical and Biological Protection Forces of the Russian Armed Forces. Ms. Zakharova spoke about the facts cited by Mr. Kirilov which, in her opinion, reveal the USA’s connections with the Ukrainian bio-objects.

Briefing of March 29, 2022  

This briefing, unlike the post-war briefings, did not include extensive explanations on the Ukrainian issue.

  • This time, Maria Zakharova succinctly stated that the special military operation continues according to the plan and all the declared goals will be achieved as stated by the Russian president.
  • It was emphasized again that the Russian Armed Forces are doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties. According to Ms. Zakharova, no strikes are carried out on civilian infrastructure and humanitarian corridors are opened daily.
  • Despite the fact that the citizens of Ukraine urgently need humanitarian aid, Western countries are not supplying Ukraine with humanitarian or medical products but with all kinds of weapons instead.

Briefing of April 6, 2022

  • The main message of the briefing is that the special military operation continues and its goals remain unchanged. Russian peacekeepers are doing everything to avoid civilian casualties. They do not carry out strikes on civilian infrastructure and open humanitarian corridors every day. Against this background, the Kyiv regime, with the support of American and European associates who are increasing the supply of lethal weapons, shell populated areas, destroy its own population and lead the country to a humanitarian disaster.
  • Maria Zakharova said that the mass murders of civilians by the Russian military in Bucha was staged by the Ukrainian side. Ms. Zakharova detailed the facts which, in her opinion, prove that Russia has nothing to do with the killing of people in Bucha. She accused the Western and, especially, the American media of disseminating fake information and of being complicit in the crime. Ms. Zakharova cited similar examples from history when they tried to defame the name of Soviet soldiers. At the briefing, Maria Zakharova spent a lot of time asserting the innocence of the Russian military in the Bucha events.

Briefing of April 13, 2022

  • Maria Zakharova began the briefing with an assessment of a decision taken by the National Defense and Security Council of Ukraine on April 13, 2014 - On emergency measures to preserve the territorial integrity of Ukraine and prevent territorial threats, which she called a criminal decision. According to her, in the name of “anti-terrorist operation,” the civil war of the Kyiv regime against the civilians of Donbas, who refused to accept the anti-constitutional coup of the neo-Nazi forces, started.
  • Russia was forced to launch the special military operation after diplomatic means to protect Donbas ran out.
  • Maria Zakharova emphasized the barbaric methods of conducting the battle of the Ukrainian armed formations about which, in her estimation, the Western media is silent and fake news is being circulated about the harsh treatment of the Russian military towards the civilian population.
  • Maria Zakharova called the USA “the main donor of death” which has helped Ukraine with USD 1.7 billion in weapons since the beginning of the war.
  • During the briefing, Maria Zakharova also recalled April 19, 1783 when the Russian Empress Catherine II signed the manifesto on the annexation of Crimea, Taman and Kuban to the Russian Empire. According to her, this step was dictated by the motive of ensuring the security of Russia's southern approaches. Ms. Zakharova also recalled the liberation of the right bank of the Dnieper by the Red Army, the so-called Dnieper-Carpathian offensive, which took place from December 23, 1943 to April 17, 1944.

Briefing of April 20, 2022

  • According to Maria Zakharova, contrary to widespread statements that hostilities in Ukraine should end as soon as possible, NATO member countries are doing everything to continue the active phase of the operation.
  • Ukraine has become a gathering place for mercenary fighters, including Georgian citizens. As a result of the actions of the Russian Armed Forces, the number of foreign fighters is decreasing. The Russian military has already destroyed over a thousand mercenaries.
  • Special emphasis was placed on the role of Western countries in the training of the Ukrainian military; more specifically, the Azov battalion.

Briefing of April 28, 2022

  • Maria Zakharova started talking about Ukraine with a tragedy that happened in Odesa on May 2, 2014. According to Ms. Zakharova, Ukrainian nationalists demonstratively brutalized their fellow citizens who were protesting against the national-radical forces. According to her, “the ‘civilized’ West demonstrated uncivilized silence and despite the fact that we have been informing the public about this tragedy for eight years, all international structures remained silent.” In this case Maria Zakharova also cited historical analogies and recalled the crimes committed against the Jews by supporters of Symon Petliura (Head of the Ukrainian People's Republic in 1919-1920) in the 1920s and the crimes committed by supporters of Stepan Bandera (leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement) in the middle of last year.
  • Maria Zakharova also spoke about mercenaries combating in Ukraine. According to her, these people represent 63 countries, among them the majority are from Poland, the USA, Canada, Romania, Great Britain and Georgia.
  • Maria Zakharova emphasized once again that they announce the opening of the humanitarian corridor for civilians every day while the Ukrainian side prevents the evacuation of civilians in the direction of Russia. According to her, over 2.75 million Ukrainians applied to them with a request to move to Russia. As of April 28, more than a million Ukrainians were evacuated to Russia.

Briefing of May 18, 2022

After April 28, the weekly traditional briefing of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was held on May 18.

  • According to Maria Zakharova, the special military operation is going according to the plan and new territories are being liberated from the neo-Nazis every day. This week, the capture of the Ukrainian military and fighters of the Azov nationalist group will begin in Mariupol. All of the wounded have qualified medical care. However, the Ukrainian and the world media show it differently.
  • Nationalists, who have been using the tactics of terrorists of the Islamic State for a long time, do not hesitate to use kindergartens, schools and hospitals as ammunition depots and combat points. They do not even try to hide it.
  • Military aid amounts to USD billions, the scale of which corresponds to the amount of the military budget of large countries.
  • The information war of the West is overtly based on lies. Russia is accused of creating global food shortages. At the same time, the West is trying to take everything that might be of some value out of Ukraine. This is also a repetition of the history of 80 years ago.
  • Russia received materials confirming that biological laboratories are operating on the territory of Ukraine with the support of American governmental and private organizations. The study of dangerous and especially dangerous pathogens is being conducted with the participation of research organizations in Ukraine.

Briefing of May 25, 2022

  • On May 24, three months have passed since the start of the special military operation. During this period, the Russian military liberated the territory of the so-called Luhansk People's Republic almost completely, the entire Kherson region and a substantial part of the Kharkiv and the Zaporizhzhia regions. A peaceful life, the economy and industry were restored in the territories freed from the neo-Nazis and  infrastructure is being built, enterprises are starting to work and schools, kindergartens and hospitals are opening.
  • Russia continues to attach significant importance to the distribution of humanitarian aid to the liberated territories of Ukraine where 22,000 tons of humanitarian cargo has already been delivered.
  • A total of 1.4 million people left for Russia despite Ukraine's obstruction to the evacuation of the population in the direction of Russia.
  • The US and its NATO allies are trying to make the confrontation as bloody as possible. More than 30 states, mainly NATO members, fearing the complete destruction of Ukraine's Armed Forces, provide Ukraine with tens of billions of USD in military aid. The encouragement of Ukrainian nationalism by Western “sponsors” contributes to the radicalization of fighters in Ukraine, many of whom are foreign mercenaries.

Briefing of June 3, 2022

  • On June 1, International Children's Day was celebrated all over the world. The Armed Forces of Ukraine also “marked” this day in their own way - they again conducted massive artillery strikes on populated areas in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic. Fragments of a large-caliber weapon with American markings were found at the site.
  • We can observe the work of artillery supplied by different countries at the positions of Ukrainian nationalists. Such actions of the West turned Ukraine into a military training ground against Russia and became one of the reasons for the launch of the special military operation. I emphasize once again that this will continue until all of the goals, including the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, are achieved. Much has been done in this direction: fighters of the Azov nationalist group surrendered in Mariupol and the liberation of Donbas is going on as planned.
  • In order to divert attention from their own war crimes, the Kyiv regime continues its disinformation campaign against Russia and spreads fake news.

Briefing of June 8, 2022

  • A special military operation continues in Ukraine for the demilitarization and denazification of the country, the liberation of Donbas and the elimination of future threats from the territory of Ukraine. More and more towns and villages liberated from the Ukrainian neo-Nazis and the foreign mercenaries are returning to a peaceful life.
  • New evidence of war crimes committed by the Armed Forces of Ukraine are revealed every day as a part of the operation. Ukrainian nationalists continue to set up firing positions in residential buildings which is their “business card.”
  • Ukraine's military supply leads to the development of the “black market” of weapons, including in Western Europe.
  • Kyiv authorities and their Western patrons continue to concoct and spread false reports about the special military operation as if Russia’s Armed Forces are preparing to attack chemical facilities in Ukraine.

Briefing of June 15, 2022

  • Each new day brings another piece of tragic evidence of war crimes and the violations of international humanitarian law committed by the neo-Nazi regime and the foreign mercenaries. They use terrorist and extremist tactics by intimidating the civilian population and using the local population as “human shields.” It seems that the fighters of the Ukrainian Armed Forces were trained by NATO instructors. Ukrainian military formations fire daily against the peaceful quarters of Donetsk.
  • The Armed Forces of Ukraine use prohibited cluster munitions and artillery installations received from Western countries.

Briefing of June 22, 2022

  • After 81 years, the Russian military is still fighting against Nazism, neo-Nazism, outright fascism, liberating Ukraine from the neo-Nazi violence that has been fed by the Western “partners” for decades. We are still being killed with weapons that are now produced in NATO countries. We will remind you of the motto of the Third Reich (Drang nach Osten - Attack to the East). This has now, in fact, become the motto of the alliance.
  • At the same time, the Ukrainian armed formations, which are retreating from the battlefield, are causing real terror to the civilian population. Even now, Western partners do not notice their nationalistic and misanthropic essence.
  • It is clear that the Zelensky regime has no plans to stop its criminal activities which completely suits the Western countries.
  • Forced Ukrainization and persecution of everything Russian continues. On June 19, the Verkhovna Rada voted in favor of bills which actually ban the performance of Russian music on the streets, in concert halls, stadiums and on the radio and television of Ukrainian cities.
  • Maria Zakharova also spoke about global food security and called the accusations against Russia for the deficit of grain and fertilizer false claims.

Briefing of June 29, 2022

  • The entire territory of the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic, a significant part of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, the entire Kherson region, and a significant part of the Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia regions and the ports of Mariupol and Berdiansk on the Sea of ​​Azov were completely freed from neo-Nazis during the special military operation. Peaceful life is being regulated in the territory freed from the neo-Nazi groups and the economy, industry and infrastructure are being restored, enterprises are starting to work and schools, kindergartens and hospitals are opening. The Zelensky regime is intensifying an aggressive disinformation campaign against Russia against this background.
  • Passions about the artificially created myth of a global food apocalypse, allegedly provoked by Russia's blockade of Ukrainian grain, do not subside. The most surprising thing is that neither the figures, the facts nor the data of international organizations confirm this. We repeat once again that Russia does not hinder the exports of grain from the territory of Ukraine. What actually hinders the export of Ukrainian grain? This is Ukraine itself which is responsible for providing security guarantees for merchant ships in its territorial waters.
  • The USA and its allies do not stop supplying Ukraine with weapons. Western experts estimate that the total promised military, financial and humanitarian aid in the last four months amounts to USD 80 billion, 45% of which is military support.
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