Last week's events concerning the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign


Opening remarks

  1. Help us crush the Russian propaganda machine
  2. Joke of the week

Policy & Research  

  1. Mercenaries and far-right extremism
  2. The hypersonic weapons race

U.S. Developments  

  1. The US not optimistic about Ukraine talks
  2. ‘Revolutionary’ intel sharing between US and Ukraine

Kremlin’s Current Narrative 

  1. Analyst Yushkov commented on the consequences of a possible EU refusal from Russia’s oil.
  2. Peskov noted an unprecedented level of hatred for everything Russian in different countries.

Taipei news

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Joke of this week

Russian tank equipped with latest AI technology plays dead when detects approaching tractor.

Source: Twitter: @Sputnik_Not

Policy & Research

Mercenaries and far-right extremism

Despite the Kremlin's plans for a quick “in-and-out” campaign to get Kyiv, the war is not going particularly well for the Russians, as they apparently were not prepared for conventional war and had little information about the capabilities of the Ukrainian army and resistance. For this reason, Russia needs to employ new sources of manpower such as "Chechen fighters, private military contractors from the infamous Wagner Group, and Syrian mercenaries." The first two apparently have already been used shortly after the invasion with the mission, according to reports, of assassinating Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, trying to get the Ukrainian military to concede defeat. As for the pro-Assad Syrian mercenaries, the Kremlin justified their intervention as a response to the number of foreign fighters deployed on Ukraine's side.


The pro-Russian mercenaries have been linked by an investigation to right-wing violent extremism, with much of the content spread on Telegram and VKontakte by far-right units within the Wagner group, funded by Putin's close associate Yevgeny Prigozhin. This is further evidence that the Kremlin has been particularly invested in supporting both financially and vocally far-right movements globally. In addition, the investigation also suggests the involvement of the white-supremacist paramilitary organization Russian Imperial Movement (RIM), flagged as terrorist by the United States, and Russian National Unit in recruitment posts for the war in Ukraine on private messaging platforms, in an attempt by the Kremlin to keep the Russian military's death toll down.

The hypersonic weapons race

The Kremlin proudly claims to have already deployed hypersonic missiles twice in Ukraine, constituting the first use of this weapon in combat, according to Western analysts, allegedly hitting an underground military storage site and a fuel depot. Several other countries are working on this new weapon, described by Vladimir Putin as "the ideal weapon" because it can be used not only for conventional warheads with greater speed and accuracy but also for nuclear weapons. 


However, despite being more difficult to track and intercept by air defence systems, the estimated impact on the war in Ukraine is not expected to be great, aside from "giving a certain psychological and propaganda effect" and indicating that Russia may be running out of other weapons. In addition, the announcement regarding the use of Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, a series of weapons unveiled in 2018, was made by Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov but has not been confirmed by either the Ukrainian government or independent sources. In addition, Konashenkov also claims that Russian forces used the Bastion coastal missile system near Odessa to target military radio and reconnaissance centres.

U.S. Developments

The US not optimistic about Ukraine talks

The US is sceptical about the negotiations as a tool for bringing the war in Ukraine to an end. The US high officials oppose the idea backed up by Volodymyr Zelenskyy that only talks with Russia can halt the war in Ukraine. According to the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas Greenfield, the breakthrough in the negotiations is unlikely as Russia does not show any interest in putting an end to the war in Ukraine using diplomatic negotiations. The US mostly relies on the Ukrainian side’s effort to end the war with the help of negotiations. As Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated recently, the peace talks with Russia started sounding “more realistic”, but more time was needed. According to him, the talks should end up with results that are in the interests of Ukraine. 


But, the process of negotiation was assessed as “very difficult and vicious” by Zelenskyy’s adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak. Despite the “fundamental contradictions” between the two sides, the room for a comprises certainly exists. This positive approach was not shared by the Russian side. According to Kremlin spokesperson, it is too early to speak about any progress in the negotiations. The compromise that might be done by Ukraine is about the status of two breakaway pro-Russian regions, Donetsk and Luhansk. Besides, as Zelenskyy said, the concession might deal with Ukraine’s aspiration to NATO membership in exchange for security guarantees. Even though, the West remains sceptical about Putin's willingness to end the war. The US will be careful about Putin's intentions until he shows readiness to start de-escalation. But, in case of an agreement, it must be "clear, binding and monitorable." 

‘Revolutionary’ intel sharing between US and Ukraine

The cooperation between the US and Ukraine in terms of intelligence sharing was assessed as “revolutionary” by the director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency. In particular, the word “revolutionary” refers to the provision of “accurate, timely, and actionable” intelligence information to Ukraine. The cooperation between the US and Ukraine comprises diverse aspects of intelligence sharing. One of the crucial elements of this cooperation is countering the dissemination of Russian propaganda during the war in Ukraine. The US, that accumulated important knowledge regarding Russian disinformation campaigns since 2014, contributes a lot to fighting Russian disinformation now in the Russia-Ukraine war. In particular, it deals with carrying out preemptive selective declassification which means disclosing Russia’s next possible moves. 


Other aspects deal with providing Ukraine with information regarding Russian force movements, locations, and their military plans. It is noteworthy that the intelligence information is provided to Ukraine within 30 minutes to an hour with the help of secure communications equipment. The intelligence sharing aims at helping the Ukrainians to develop their response to the Russian invasion and defend themselves. But, it is noteworthy that there are some restrictions in terms of intelligence sharing with Ukraine. Precisely, the US is not sharing the most sensitive intelligence information with Ukraine that might be used for lethal strikes against the Russian military. Such kind of information is called “real-time targeting” and it would help the Ukrainians to carry out deadly attacks directly on the Russian forces. The reason why the US avoids providing Ukraine with “real-time targeting" intelligence information is to protect itself from becoming a participant in the Russia-Ukraine war.

Kremlin's Current Narrative

Analyst Yushkov commented on the consequences of a possible EU refusal from Russia’s oil.

Igor Yushkov, an expert at the Financial University of Russia and a leading analyst at the National Energy Security Fund, commented in an interview with RT on a statement by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who expects US President Joe Biden to put pressure on "too slow" EU leaders on the issue of anti-Russian sanctions and refusal from Russian oil. Yushkov claimed that the stakes for Europeans in this matter are much higher than for the United States. Yushkov explained that after the decision of the Americans to abandon Russian oil, there was an exchange of sales markets. 


In the case of Europe, the risks that there will be interruptions during the transition period are much bigger, the interlocutor of RT emphasized. “If these interruptions take place, then there will be a shortage of fuel, high prices on the European fuel market (...) This will be a shock to the global economy,” concluded Yushkov. However, Russia’s fuel market is as dependent on export as on imports. Moreover, Andrey Movchan, financier and expert of the Economic Policy Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center asserted that “globally speaking, the Russian economy as a whole is about one per cent of the world, interruptions in the supply of anything from Russia are therefore not significant.” Thus, even though Europe’s economy is affected by the sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas, Russia’s contribution to the global GDP is modest which means the world’s economic crisis will pass. 

Peskov noted an unprecedented level of hatred for everything Russian in different countries.

The press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov claimed that the world is faced with an unprecedented imposition of hatred for everything Russian. “The situation we are facing is an unprecedented point of view, placing absolute responsibility on everything Russian, Russian representatives, Russian citizens, foreign citizens, Russian by origin or Russian by language. Everyone now arises with hatred, with harassment and situations that sometimes manifest danger to health and life,” stressed Peskov. Earlier, the artistic director of the Tauride International Symphony Orchestra, Mikhail Golikov, spoke about Russophobia in the West in the RT stream “Flyer”. Furthermore, the Kremlin claims that the Russian Embassy in Prague reported that Russophobia is becoming dangerous in the Czech Republic, and the number of offences on this ground against Russian-speaking citizens is increasing.  


However, considering that the Russian embassy in the Czech Republic has been operating in a limited manner and recognizing disinformation tools of Russia, there is a doubt that the reports are provided by the embassy. The Kremlin continues its accusations and exaggerates the situation about how Russian people are treated abroad. The deputy director of the department for work with compatriots abroad of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Vladimir Andreev, said that the situation with the protection of the rights of Russians abroad has now become more complicated. However, the Kremlin’s speculations about presupposed hate towards Russians and threats to Russian people abroad do not provide any proven evidence. It is bizarre how the Kremlin blames everyone for everything, not recognizing Russia's role in the catastrophe that is created for Ukraine, European security, and even for the Russian people around the world, and most importantly for the international order.

Taipei News

David Kabua, President of the Marshall Islands, one of fourteen official diplomatic allies of the Republic of China, is leading a five-day delegation to Taipei. Beyond its official ties with Taiwan, the Micronesian nation is also one of four countries that underwrote Compacts of Free Association (COFA) with the United States. Cooperation between Taiwan and the Marshall Islands—belonging to the second island chain—consists of numerous initiatives related to addressing non-traditional security threats, including food insecurity and maritime threats. New agreements concluded during this visit, including an agriculture deal, will allow Taipei and Majuro to deepen their cooperation in these areas. Importantly, the delegation led by Kabua coincided with US President Joe Biden’s decision to name Joseph Yun, former US special envoy for North Korea, to lead languishing COFA negotiations amid China’s persistent attempts to make inroads into the small but strategically important Pacific Island countries. 


In light of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, Taiwan continues the debate about its defence strategy and the future of the nation's armed forces. During the March 23 session of the Foreign and National Defense Committee of the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan's defence minister Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正announced that his ministry will carry out a study on the feasibility of extending the duration of compulsory military service from the current four months, and publish the results by the end of the year. The idea of extending the mandatory service period is largely embraced across the party lines. Dr Lo Chih-Cheng (羅致政), Member of the Legislative Yuan and Head of the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) International Affairs Department asserted, “moderately extending the mandatory service period is necessary.” Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿), Taiwan People’s Party caucus whip, and Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智), convener of the New Power Party, were both “happy to see" the initiative to extend service time. Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary-General of the Kuomintang (KMT) Lee De-wei (李德維called on the DPP to “take on full responsibility” for the consequences of potential changes to the conscription system in which young people will face, but also stated KMT would "respect" such amendments.

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Kremlin Watch is a strategic program of the European Values Center for Security Policy, which aims to expose and confront instruments of Russian influence and disinformation operations focused against the liberal-democratic system.

For comments. suggestions or media inquiries, please contact the Head of the Kremlin Watch Program Veronika Víchová at 

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