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. The shadow of war crimes
  2. Kremlin’s ties in European elections

U.S. Developments  

  1. Biden calls for war crimes trial after Bucha reports surface
  2. The US targets the Russian technology sector in fresh sanctions

Kremlin’s Current Narrative 

  1. Kremlin: What should Russia do with Ukraine?
  2. Kremlin claims that sanctions against Russia threaten the world with economic catastrophe.

Taipei news

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Joke of this week

Source: Twitter @Ukraine

Policy & Research

The shadow of war crimes

As Russian troops are withdrawing from Kyiv and northern Ukraine, Ukrainian officials have begun to uncover evidence of the invasion's brutality against civilians. Haunting images of bodies abandoned in the streets, reports of summary executions, and the discovery of mass graves have sparked international outrage. The town of Bucha, in particular, was occupied in early March and its residents now report systematic killings perpetrated by Russian troops who indiscriminately shot anyone within their sight. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is demanding accountability for what he has openly called genocide, asking the International Criminal Court to visit the sites to gather evidence of war crimes committed by Russian forces. Reports of similar atrocities have come from other occupied areas such as Chernihiv and Kharkiv, according to Human Rights Watch.


Meanwhile, the troop withdrawal in the north comes at the price of the Kremlin's army redistributing to the south and east of Ukraine, where Odesa is hit by missiles and civilians in Mariupol are still under siege and cut off from humanitarian aid. In response to these atrocities, European officials such as Charles Michel and Paolo Gentiloni, President of the European Council and EU economic commissioner respectively, have announced a plan to toughen economic sanctions against the Kremlin. However, European dependence on Russian energy supplies remains the Kremlin's financial parachute in the sanctions war. The words and promises of the old continent's leaders will not stop Putin's war machine, which continues to deny and spread disinformation narratives going so far as to call for a UN Security Council meeting to discuss Russian claims of "blatant provocation by Ukrainian radicals."

Kremlin’s ties in European elections

On Sunday, April 3, Hungarian populist leader Viktor Orbán won his fourth round of elections, despite the opposition forming an eight-party alliance, "United for Hungary," led by Péter Márki-Zay. This detail made the victory memorable in Orbán's speech addressed to his opponents, represented not only by the defeated opposition, the national and international left, and the EU but also by the Ukrainian president. In fact, the reappointed president, blamed several times by Volodymyr Zelensky for the lack of support and condemnation of the invasion, has never shied away from manifesting his close relationship with the Kremlin. On the contrary, the Hungarian leader seems to have benefited from it electorally: at a time characterized by rising energy prices, Orbán has signed advantageous long-term contracts with Gazprom, aiming at the Hungarian citizens' desire for financial stability.


On the other hand, Fidesz has control of the media, has access to large resources, and has changed the structure of the electoral system over the years to his advantage, undermining the fairness of the elections according to critics. The Hungarian leader is not the only one to benefit from the Ukrainian war: on the same day, pro-Kremlin populist President Aleksandar Vučić claimed election victory in Serbia, after condemning the invasion at the United Nations but refusing to sanction Russia to maintain a "friendly" relationship. Mirroring some of Fidesz's tactics since gaining power in 2012, the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and Vučić have been accused of "autocratic tendencies and corruption"; in addition, the country is almost entirely dependent on Russian gas and has close ties to China as well, straining Serbia's aspirations to join the EU.

U.S. Developments

Biden calls for war crimes trial after Bucha reports surface

On Monday US President Joe Biden accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of war crimes and called for a trial after images depicting civilian killings in the town of Bucha spread on the internet. Joe Biden called Putin a “war criminal”. The discovery of mass graves and civilian dead bodies, some with their hands tied behind their back, in Bucha near Kyiv caused international outrage. The scale of the killings is still unclear. The mayor of Bucha, Anatoly Fedoruk, said the town had buried 280 people in mass graves because its cemeteries were under fire. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the killings a “genocide”. But the Biden administration refrained from assessing the massacre as "genocide" and conversely labelled it as a war crime. As National security adviser, Jake Sullivan stated based on what they have seen so far, they are atrocities and war crimes. The massacre would be qualified as "genocide" if there were systematic deprivation of the life of the Ukrainian people. 


According to Joe Biden, the US will continue gathering information from the following sources: the US and its allies, Ukrainian observations on the ground international organizations, and interviews from international media outlets. As he stated, all this is needed for building a case at the International Criminal Court. Moreover, the US envisions imposing new sanctions on Russia and at the same time continuing to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to go on fighting. The US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas Greenfield has called on the UN to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council. As Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the State Department would help Ukraine to document any attacks carried out by Russian troops against Ukrainian Civilians.

The US targets the Russian technology sector in fresh sanctions

The US imposed additional sanctions on Russia to shut down Kremlin's sanctions evasion network which enables Russia to continue the war against Ukraine. The sanctions deal with individuals and companies in Russia's defence-industrial sector that support Putin's war. Overall, the US designated 21 entities and 13 individuals procuring Russia with Western technologies with the help of sanctions evasion networks. Besides, three individuals were targeted by the sanctions who are involved in malicious cyber activities. In particular, the sanction package comprises powerful technology companies such as Mikron, Serniya Engineering, and Sertal. Mikron is Russia’s largest chipmaker company which is producing debit card chips for Russia’s domestic payment system. Serniya Engineering is a Moscow-based company that operates under the direction of Russian intelligence services and Sertal is an equipment maker company. 


In addition, the list includes companies such as AO NII-Vektor, T-Platforms, and MERI. AO NII-Vektor represents Russian-based software and communications technology company. T-Platforms is also a Moscow-based company working in the computer hardware sector. MERI is another powerful company that manufactures computers, searches and navigation equipment, and conducts research. The technology companies targeted by the sanctions export more than 50 % of Russian microelectronics. All of them are blamed for the illicit procurement of equipment and technology to Russia's defence sector. The US also identified three more sectors of the Russian economy: aerospace, marine, and electronics as potential targets of sanctions. Furthermore, the sanctions targeted the Russian government agency responsible for developing and deploying Triton cyber-attack malware.

Kremlin's Current Narrative

Kremlin: What should Russia do with Ukraine?

Ria Novosti reports that back in April last year, Russia wrote about the inevitability of the denazification of Ukraine. Kremlin claims that Russia does not need Nazi, Bandera Ukraine, the enemy of Russia and the West's tool for the destruction of Russia. Russia states that denazification is necessary when a significant part of the people - most likely the majority - has been mastered and drawn into the Nazi regime in its politics. Moreover, Kremlin asserts that denazification can only be carried out by the winner, which implies (1) his absolute control over the denazification process and (2) the power to ensure such control. In this respect, Russia implies that a denazified country cannot be sovereign. Moscow stresses that the denazifying state - Russia - cannot proceed from a liberal approach regarding denazification.  


Moreover, Russia, in addition to the authorities, also blames a significant part of the Ukrainian civilians stating that they are passive Nazis. The Kremlin claims that the Ukrainian people supported and indulged Nazi power. Furthermore, what is the scariest part of this narrative is that Russia states that “punishment of this part of the population is possible only as of the infliction of the inevitable hardships of the war.” In addition to this, Russia stresses that “further denazification of this mass of the population consists in re-education, which is achieved by ideological repression.” In other words, Russia points out that not only “denazification” is needed but also “deukrainization” undermining Ukraine as an independent nation-state. 

Kremlin claims that sanctions against Russia threaten the world with economic catastrophe.

Ria Novosti cites the comments of the journalist Anthony Rowley in an article for the South China Morning Post who assumed that the West's sanctions war against Russia, China, and other countries could trigger a global economic catastrophe. Kremlin states that according to the author of the article, when the world economy has been performing well for a long time, with stable growth, price stability, and low-interest rates, it is tempting to think that the system can take indiscriminate and thoughtless blows while remaining resilient. 


In addition to this, the Kremlin claims that the sanctions have not only hit the US and the West, who are used to deciding what political position other states should take, but the situation also may contribute to the end of the dominance of the dollar in the global financial arena. Russia asserts that according to Anthony Rowley, Russia may be in open war with Ukraine and, more indirectly, with the US and NATO, but the sanctions war that the US-led coalition has unleashed against Russia and China with alleged threats to hit countries that could be friends with them, may potentially turn into an economic third world war.

Taipei News

On April 6, the Taiwan-Poland Inter-Parliamentary Amity Association was established in the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan's unicameral parliament. The group, led by Democratic Progressive Party legislator Lin Ching-Yi (林靜儀), is aimed at fostering bilateral ties between Taiwan and Poland. Cyryl Kozaczewski, Poland’s de facto ambassador to Taiwan, emphasized that Taiwan has been a key partner in Poland’s diplomatic and humanitarian efforts to help Ukraine, and expressed his hopes that the formation of the group would help further bilateral economic cooperation. Legislative diplomacy has played an important role in Taiwan’s quest to expand its international space despite China’s suppression of these efforts. In the Polish parliament, the Polish-Taiwanese Parliamentary Group counts 93 members and is led by Waldemar Andzel, a Member of Sejm representing the ruling Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość) party. 


Taiwan also continues to ramp up sanctions against Russia implemented following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Recognized for its technological prowess, Taiwan will stop exports of fifty-seven strategic goods with potential military applications to Russia. On February 25, Taiwan announced it would join "democratic countries" in imposing sanctions on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, but the recent proclamation of controlled items brings about much-awaited details about the scope of economic statecraft tools Taiwan is willing to deploy. 


Elita Khmelidze

Eleonora Sobrero    

Aidana Zhakypbekova

Marcin Jerzewski

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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.

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