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Debunker: The 'Ukraine Nazi' disinformation narrative


The 'Nazism' claim is frequently employed to target Ukraine with false accusations that the country and its leadership hold far-right and fascist ideologies. Kremlin propagandists have been using this narrative since the 2013-14 Euromaidan protest which was falsely portrayed as a ‘coup’ by pro-Kremlin outlets.[1]

A collage of headline excepts from Russian media outlets promoting the 'Ukraine Nazi' disinformation narrative

Such claims helped to lay the groundwork for Russia’s full-scale invasion of their European neighbour.[2] Vladimir Putin claims that Kyiv has been carrying out a “genocide” against the Russian-speaking population of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, collectively known as the Donbas, where the Ukrainian army has been fighting Russia-backed separatists since 2014.[3]

TASS article: Need to demilitarize Ukraine driven by threat its arms pose to Russian, CSTO

Since the commencement of the so-called ‘special military operation,’ the 'Nazi' narrative has been increasingly pushed by Russian state media and Kremlin officials. Vladimir Putin has relentlessly cited the 'denazification' of Ukraine as his justification for war.[4] By baselessly labelling Ukraine as a 'Nazi state,' the Kremlin has sought to justify their illegal invasion and diminish the groundswell of support which Ukraine has received from its allies.

Orosz Hirek article: Medvedev compares the Kyiv government to the fascist regime and portrays Zelensky
Headline translated automatically from Hungarian

The 'Ukraine Nazi' narrative can be found in several variations, with some publications casting all Ukrainians as 'Nazis,' while others focus their attack more heavily on the President of Ukraine and his government. These attacks are often woven through articles which make accusations of 'genocide' in eastern Ukraine to baseless comparisons between the Russia-Ukraine war and the fight against Nazism in World War II.



  • Ukraine is not a Nazi state. Such claims to the contrary are baseless and not grounded in reality. In contrast, Nazi and Communist ideologies were banned in Ukraine in 2015, prohibiting the use of associated symbols.[5]

  • The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish and holds a personal connection to the Holocaust after losing three of his uncles.[6] A group of over 300 historians of genocide, Nazism and World War II have condemned the remarks of Vladimir Putin when he called for the 'denazification' of Ukraine, branding the term “propaganda.”[7]

  • Although this disinformation narrative was spawned out of the 2013-14 Euromaidan protests, the reality is that far-right groups had a very limited presence in the demonstrations.[8] Whilst Ukraine is not immune from the existence of far-right groups, which have a presence in every country, it is clear from recent Ukrainian elections that far-right ideology has been overwhelmingly rejected in the country.[9]

  • Russia's aggression against Ukraine was unprovoked and unjustified. Contrary to Russian claims, the Russian language is not banned in Ukraine, nor did Ukraine commit genocide in the non-government controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.[10] None of the multiple reports on the human rights situation in Ukraine, which are regularly published by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights[11], or the reports of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission[12] come even close to referencing genocide in Ukraine.

  • Russia is not protecting ethnic Russians or Ukrainians speaking Russian in Ukraine. Such claims have been unequivocally debunked by independent Russian media[13], among others.

  • The 'Ukraine Nazi' narrative is designed to provoke a strong emotional response and is particularly powerful with a domestic Russian audience. The Soviet Union’s defeat over Nazi Germany in World War II remains at the forefront of the Russian psyche and ingrained into their national identity, offering a compelling symbol for propagandists to exploit.[14] By associating Ukraine and its people with a historical enemy, alongside the heinous crimes committed by the Nazis, the Kremlin seeks to fabricate a modern equivalent for the Russian people to rally against. In turn, Putin is able to distract from the weakness of his own regime.

  • The narrative also seeks to promote black and white thinking through the use of stereotypes and generalisations, which seek to simplify and obscure factual evidence. By portraying all Ukrainians as 'remorseless' and 'evil,' any moral searching in relation to the war becomes redundant. Instead of waging an illegal war, costing thousands of lives and committing a series of alleged war crimes, Putin can present himself as a 'liberator' who is on the right side of history.



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Debunker is a series of disinformation-busting articles from which focus on dispelling the harmful lies and propaganda being pushed by pro-Kremlin sources. Check out the rest of the series at

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