By EUvsDisinfo

Last week brought some unexpected challenges for the Kremlin’s information manipulators and disinformation launderers. On one hand, they had to keep up the momentum for shamelessly vilifying Ukraine and the West after the Crocus City Hall terrorist attack. On the other hand, they had to pivot their attention to reconciling all the logical contradictions in pro-Kremlin narratives about peace. Ultimately, the Kremlin did what the Kremlin does best – doubling down on its own twisted Orwellian reality where war means peace and occupation is liberation.

Time to show up or shut up

Ever since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago, the Kremlin’s mouthpieces have periodically engaged in pushing all sorts of manipulative and deceitful narratives about peace. However, the Kremlin’s big talk about peace was never anything more than an empty PR stunt because for Russia, engaging in the rhetoric of peace has ultimately served to sustain its war against Ukraine. Then, about a week ago, Switzerland announced a high-level conference on just peace in Ukraine to be held on 15-16 June near Lucerne.

For the last two years the Kremlin’s disinformation outlets have only ever talked about peace to distract the world from what it is doing in Ukraine. In fact, the Kremlin has been merely paying lip service to peace. But while Russia continues to rain bombs on Ukrainian civilians, Ukraine has been working diligently with its international partners and the global community to find a just and sustainable peace based on the ten-point ‘Peace Formula’ proposed by President Zelenskyy in October 2022.

If Russia can’t have nice things, no one can

Now, pro-Kremlin disinformation peddlers have set to work to muddy the waters and discredit any legitimate attempts to find peace, including doubling-down on the mantra that any talking about solutions without Russia present is meaningless. Actually, we’ve seen similar rhetoric about the Jeddah meeting. So, no wonder some Russian officials have been flippant about the possibility to engage on the topic of peace. To further its disinformation narrative, the Kremlin also pulled out another old favourite called ‘blame the West’, pondering about devious Western plots to trick Russia and cried foul alleging that West is getting ready to issue ultimatums to the Kremlin. So, for Moscow, two things can be true at the same time – Russia is open to a dialogue, and Russia will not negotiate about anything.

Of course, it takes at least two to talk, but attitude Russia’s hitherto, including continuous vilification of Ukraine and incessant drone and missile attacks against Ukrainian civilian infrastructure suggest that Russia’s willingness to engage in a meaningful dialogue does not hold up to scrutiny.

Dust off old alternatives

The Kremlin’s top disinformation brass might have realised that this may not be enough, particularly as they seek to build up the image of Russia as a paragon of peace for its global partners. So, the Kremlin’s masterminds of manipulation experienced a rather sudden improvement of memory.

First, they dusted off disinformation claims that the talks between Russia and Ukraine in 2022 could have brought peace if not for those meddling Anglo-Saxons. Once again, this is a cynical attempt to switch the aggressor/victim roles and cast Ukraine as the warmongering party. But more importantly, Putin’s sudden rediscovery of his own imperialist proposals of 2022 for Ukraine to ‘accept new geopolitical reality’ (Kremlin short-hand for accepting that Russia can and will annex the territories of its neighbours) is a devious attempt to distract the world from the proposals for a just and sustainable peace put forth by Ukraine. In fact, the Ukrainian proposals are receiving the ‘Navalny treatment’ in the pro-Kremlin disinformation ecosystem – they are not mentioned, even in passing.

It takes time to consider

In another instance of sudden memory improvement, the Kremlin’s disinformation troubadours also rediscovered China’s position on the political settlement in Ukraine, which has been around since February 2023. Since the recent developments, the pro-Kremlin pundits now laud this document as the only way forward. Oddly enough, the same pro-Kremlin disinformation paid little attention to these Chinese ideas 14 months prior when they were first introduced. Now they try to convince their audiences, that Ukrainian ideas for a just peace are incompatible with the Chinese proposals.

Hunt for terrorists is still on

Finally, on the domestic front, peace is the last thing on pro-Kremlin conspiracy theorists’ minds. Nearly a month has passed since the tragic terrorist attack on Crocus City Hall on the outskirts of Moscow. For pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets, the event still provides fertile ground to push their heinous lies exploiting this tragedy.

This week’s focus was squarely on continuing to falsely link Ukraine to the attacks, particularly in their attempts to deceive Spanish-speaking audiences. Most notably, pro-Kremlin outlets now present alleged Ukrainian involvement as an established and well-known fact and seek to discredit Ukraine as a terrorist lackey mesmerised by the devious West.

And, of course, they still disregard the fact that the Islamic State (ISIS) has both claimed responsibility and provide corroborating evidence. The Kremlin disinformation outlets reconcile this uncomfortable truth by repeatedly claiming that ISIS is merely a tool in Ukrainian hands. But no matter how many forcefully extracted confessions the Kremlin will use as ‘evidence’, we will not be deceived.

Also blinking red on EUvsDisinfo’s radar:

By EUvsDisinfo