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These #7 myths about the Ukraine War debunked

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

February 24th, 2023 marks the one year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A year later, the war is still going on and the desinformation spread by both countries to justify their narratives keeps increasing. Here are seven of the most frequently heard myths, so you can separate it from reality. 

#1 The existence of United States biolabs in Ukraine

One of the first theories spread by Russia about Ukraine started back in 2016, when news regarding the alleged clandestine biological weapons laboratories financed by the US in Eastern Europe countries started to appear in the media. Despite being disseminated for years, including in a well-know hashtag (#USBiolabs) used by Pro-Russian individuals, this information is nothing more than a myth.

According to the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, the UN isn’t aware of any US biological weapons programs being used for military purposes in Ukraine. Actually, since 2005, the Pentagon, supported by the World Health Organization, has collaborated with Ukrainian laboratories in order to limit the threat of bioterrorism in the country.

#2 Media Freedom is safe in Ukraine despite the war 

False. In February of 2022, the same month the war started, Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, imposed sanctions on several opposition-supporting media companies his government accuses of being financed by pro-Russia politicians. In a presidential decree, the Ukrainian leader said the decision was necessary to counter “propaganda financed by the aggressor State”.

Nine months later, in November, Zelensky signed a legislation that subordinated all media outlets to a single state body, the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting. In addition to its existing authority over TV and Radio, the group now has the power to regulate and shut down any newspaper and online platforms that provide media services in the country.

The decisions were seen by Gulnoza Said, member of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), as “an attempt to establish an even stricter control of the government over the free flow of information” 

#3 Russia only has military targets 

The theory that Russia’s weapons are only intended for military targets is widely disseminated by the state agencies TASS and RIA Novosti. However, considering the hundreds of cases of war crimes committed since the beginning of the conflict that are under investigation, it’s almost certain that both Russia and Ukraine hit civilian targets in this one year of war. 

In fact, several attacks by the Russian army against civilians in Ukraine were recorded by Amnesty International, a global movement that campaigns to end abuses of human rights. The most known cases happened in the Ukrainian cities of Kramatorsk and Vinnytsia, where dozens of civilians were killed in attacks that hit residential neighborhoods and public transport stations. 

#4 Putin sick or even dying 

Since the beginning of the war, Putin’s supposed deteriorating health has been a subject of speculation. The first theory started in March of 2022, when the leader traveled to the training center of Aeroflat, the Russian State aviation company. In the hours following his visit, images shared by the Ukrainian side suggested that Putin had not been at the event and that his appearance was merely photoshopped. 

Although it wouldn’t be the first time Russia manipulated images for its own advantage, according to NewsGuard, a journalism tool that rates the credibility of news, the video in question is really real. The allegation was also confirmed by BBC journalist Shayan Sardarizahe, who is specialized in identifying false content.

#5 A NATO’s base in Ukrainian territory

One of the main pretexts Russia uses to have begun the war is that Ukraine would be preparing to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. To confirm this theory, pro-Russian websites reported, back in 2021, that NATO had a naval base in Odessa, an important port city on the Black Sea, located northwest of Crimean Peninsula. When confronted, the organization reported a bigger presence of ships in that area, but denied that this strategy included a naval base.

In a note that is available on the Atlantic Alliance’s website, it can be read that NATO ships operate daily in the Black Sea following the international law and normally patrols the waters for two-thirds of the year. According to the constitution of the alliance, the organization’s military bases are not allowed in Ukraine. Therefore,  it was not found any evidence of allied bases in that region.

#6 There is no political repression in Ukraine

Also wrong. One month after the war started, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ordered the banning of the country’s 11 remaining left-wing opposition parties, citing their alleged “Pro-Russian” behavior. Even though the parties were really seen by Ukrainian as “linked with Russia”, in the current context, these labels are used to describe almost anyone who criticizes or raises questions about pro-Western discourses.

Moreover, the suspended parties have very different relations with Russia, some may have links to the Kremlin, but others actually are even under Russian sanctions. So, while the banning could have been an attempt of Zelensky to consolidate a political imaginary based on Ukrainian ultranationalism, it only highlighted the lack of political freedom in the country. 

#7 Eastern Ukraine wants to be part of Russia

Despite the countless reasons Putin gave to justify the war, the formal pretext was that Russia needed to save the Ukraine population who lived in the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. In his speech announcing the invasion, the leader claimed genocide was being committed against ethnic Russians in the Donbas region and that the Kremlin was seeking the “denazification” of Ukraine.

Despite the undeniable ties between the Eastern region of Ukraine and Russia, there is no evidence that these regions want to be part of Russia. Actually, if the decisive element were ethnicity, Putin’s pretension would be frustrated as well. That’s because, according to a population survey conducted in Donetsk and Luhansk, 57% of the citizens identify themselves as ethnically Ukrainian and 38% as Russian.


The article above was edited by Fernanda Miki.

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Yasmin Logrado

Casper Libero '25

Journalism student in love with learning new stories and willing to share them with others.