How Far-Right Agitators Justify Putin’s War With Disinformation
After Russia launched an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, several far-right media figures and fringe outlets offered subtle support for the invasion, often repeating Russia’s own propaganda justifying the attack.
On Wednesday, February 23, Russian leader Vladimir Putin announced what he called a “special military operation” in Ukraine and proceeded to launch a series of missile attacks near the capital of Kyiv. Over the next two weeks, Russian air and ground forces pummeled Ukrainian civilian and military targets as they pushed further into Ukrainian territory. Ukrainian forces have displayed stiff resistance against the Russian military, which managed to take only the city of Kherson as the invasion force struggled to gain ground.
Following the invasion, an international alliance led by the United States announced targeted sanctions against Russian banks and oligarchs, a growing list of companies stopped operations in Russia, and the U.S. is now set to ban all imports of Russian oil.
Before the war, Putin spent years insisting that allowing Ukraine to join NATO — something the country has pushed for consistently since 2019, and had previously pursued in 2008 — would be a “menacing” and existential threat to Russia. In the days leading up to the invasion, Russian state media promoted false stories of a network of American labs creating biological weapons in Ukraine. And when Putin announced his “special military operation,” he claimed it was to target Nazis in the government and protect Ukrainian citizens from genocide.
These excuses, of course, are baseless. While Ukraine has been angling to join NATO for some time, the country has never threatened Russia with weapons of mass destruction. Ukraine willingly gave up the third-largest nuclear stockpile in the world in 1994 as part of the Budapest Memorandum, in exchange for an explicit security guarantee from the world’s other nuclear powers, including the Russian Federation.
There is also no proof of any U.S.-run biological weapons labs in Ukraine. And Putin’s claims to be protecting Ukrainians from Nazis, and protecting ethnic Russians from genocide, are nonsense. Putin’s argument that far-right nationalists and Nazis control the government of Ukraine ignores the reality that President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish. Meanwhile, Putin’s trumped-up concern for native Russian speakers is based on a January 2022 provision requiring Ukrainian media publications to use the Ukrainian language. There is no proof, however, of any genocide against native Russian speakers in Ukraine.
Those facts have not stopped far-right media figures and fringe outlets from furthering Russia’s disinformation campaign, defending the invasion, and declaring Ukraine to be a “client state of the US.”
- In a March 6 Telegram post, QAnon influencer Jordan Sather shared a tweet from ASB News – an account which claims to share breaking military news and analysis on Russia – which alleged that “Ukraine was working on biological weapons near russian borders” in “US funded labs."
- In a March 6 Gab post, the account OutLawJWshared the ASB News tweet and added, “The truth is coming out of what's REALLY going down in Ukraine, and it sure doesn't mesh with the garbage narrative the fake news media and the DC swamp want everyone to buy into."
- During the March 2 edition of One America News Network’s Real America with Dan Ball, host Dan Ball baselessly claimed that “there’s questions about biolabs being set up in that country by America and other corporations — you’re talking biotech-type weaponry.”
- In a March 6 article, the Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft repeated the claims of “biological testing in Ukraine near the Russian border.” Hoft noted that one of the documents that he says corroborate the existence of these biolabs comes from the Russian outlet RIA Novosti.
- In a March 6 Telegram post, QAnon-associated account The Patriot Voice, run by a conspiracy theorist influencer known as QAnon John, shared a screenshot of Russian state media outlet RT claiming Ukraine was destroying “plague, anthrax and other pathogens” at a U.S.-run lab. The Patriot Voice added the comment, “Whatcha got to hide, Ukraine? I thought the US funded BioLabs were ‘FaKe NeWs’???”
- In a March 6 Telegram post, far-right podcaster Stew Peters said, “There appears to be a LOT of Nazis in Ukraine."
- Also on March 6, Human Events Daily’s Jack Posobiec tweeted “Oops…” in response to unverified photographs supposedly showing NATO equipment in use by a right-wing Ukrainian nationalist group.
- BlazeTV host Elijah Schaffer:
- The Daily Wire’s Candace Owens:
- Far-right conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich:
- American Majority Founder Ned Ryun:
Reprinted with permission from Media Matters