WHAT KREMLIN PROPAGANDISTS SAY:
Since the full-scale Russian invasion, Ukraine has received military aid from a number of its international allies. In response to this support, Russian state media has promoted a disinformation narrative, suggesting that this ‘military aid is being misused or stolen’
Pro-Kremlin disinformation actors allege that the Western weapons which are being donated to Ukraine are not reaching the front line. Instead, they claim that these are being sold on the black market by corrupt officials.
This disinformation narrative has been largely fuelled by security concerns raised over the supply of advanced weapons to the conflict zone, led by comments made by US congresswoman Victoria Spartz who called for Congress to “establish proper oversight of critical infrastructure and delivery of weapons and aid.”
Kremlin propagandists amplified these comments alongside a controversial and now-updated CBS documentary “Arming Ukraine”, which claimed that ‘only 30% of military aid supplied to Ukraine was reaching the front line.’ Moreover, comments made on Fox News were also used to bolster the rhetoric about theft of Western aid given to Ukraine .
This disinformation narrative is closely linked with other attempts to undermine international support for Ukraine, including the notion that Ukraine is corrupt.
WHAT ARE THE FACTS:
There is no evidence of large-scale weapons theft in Ukraine. This disinformation narrative represents a clear attempt from Russia to undermine international support for Ukraine by portraying it as ‘corrupt’ and stoking fears of a potential threat to international security. It is true that Ukraine was shaken up by corruption scandals amidst the war, the country has made progress in this regard over the years. Transparency International has noted that Ukraine has managed to take real steps toward combating corruption in the country.
To construct this narrative, Kremlin propagandists have amplified selective pieces of information. Most of them are consistent with their argument, presenting the views of outliers as the views of the majority.
Comments of US congresswoman Victoria Spartz, who called for increased auditing of arms supplies to Ukraine, have been featured across numerous pro-Kremlin outlets, even although governments around the world are already closely monitoring the delivery and use of these weapons. These comments were met with harsh criticism, with the spokesperson for Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry stating: “We advise Ms Spartz to stop trying to earn extra political capital on baseless speculation around the topic of war in our country and the grief of Ukrainians.”
The coverage surrounding the CBS documentary followed a similar pattern. Following the release of the documentary, CBS temporarily removed the film until it could be updated. Representatives of the station released a statement acknowledging that the ‘30%’ claim was taken from a months-old quote and that the information was out of date. In many cases, Kremlin propagandists seize on corrections made to reports, claiming that the Western media is trying to ‘cover up the real truth.’ Another critical element at play is the reputability of the source. CBS is an internationally recognised news outlet, which propagandists are hoping to capitalise on to boost the credibility of their inaccurate claims.
In reality, the disinformation narrative raises speculative concerns over an issue which there is little evidence for. The US already has officials in Kyiv dedicated to monitoring the use of military aid  and there is no evidence of large-scale theft. The arrival of shipments of military aid has been welcomed and well-documented in Ukraine. The effectiveness of these weapons in supporting Ukraine to liberate its territory from Russian control likely underpins Russia’s true motivation to spread such a narrative.
Debunker is a series of disinformation-busting articles from Debunk.org which focus on dispelling the harmful lies and propaganda being pushed by pro-Kremlin sources. Check out the rest of the series at debunk.org/debunker.