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. European war visits
  2. The Kremlin's "sneaky" cyberwarfare

U.S. Developments  

  1. The US pushes Russia to the brink of default
  2. The White House expects more brutality in Ukraine as the Russian military reorganizes 

Kremlin’s Current Narrative 

  1. Kremlin claims the truth about the event in Bucha will soon become known
  2. Kremlin claims that Russia will not tolerate the killing of civilians in Ukraine 

Taipei news

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Joke of this week

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Policy & Research

European war visits

On Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid a visit to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, following in the footsteps of Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, Ursula von der Leyen, and Josep Borrell, president of the European Commission and head of foreign affairs, respectively. In addition to the show of support, the focus of the meeting was the discussion of extending sanctions against the Kremlin and London's commitment to send Ukraine defensive military supplies such as armoured vehicles and anti-ship missile systems. In a taped clip with Zelensky, Johnson said the UK would "provide the equipment, the technology, the know-how, the intelligence so that Ukraine will never be invaded again."


Also on Monday, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer visited Moscow, in what was the first in-person meeting of a European leader with Russian President Vladimir Putin since the invasion. The tones were not friendly; Nehammer confronted Putin about war crimes allegations in Bucha and reiterated that war criminals must be brought to justice, while the Russian president did not react to the proposed meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky, focusing instead on the failed negotiations in Istanbul. The rounds of talks in the days and weeks before the invasion did not end up dissuading the Kremlin from proceeding, so there was little hope this time either, the Austrian chancellor reported an attitude of his Russian counterpart that responds to a "logic of war," confirming suspicions that despite the withdrawal from Kyiv, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is far from over.

The Kremlin's "sneaky" cyberwarfare

Despite many observers dismissing it as nonexistent, the Kremlin's coordinated cyber campaign was unprecedented and played a key role in providing every possible advantage in the warOn the day of the invasion alone, the number of destructive malware attacks targeting civilian and military infrastructure was more than cyber powers usually employ in one year. The impact has been disastrous, knocking out critical infrastructure such as "satellite Internet provider KA-SAT, which Ukraine’s military, intelligence, and police units depend on." Underestimating Russia's cyber capability in this regard will lead to the failure of future policy and intelligence as the Kremlin is deploying its cyber disruptions on a weekly basis, in line with its "thunder run” strategy to generate chaos on the Ukrainian side.


Indeed, the strategic cruciality and impact of these attacks are faded by the brutality of the battlefield, but the cyberwar began in peacetime, likely gaining access to Ukrainian networks months ago, further evidence of meticulous preparation that was not reflected on the military side of the invasion. However, the fact that Russia has not yet been able to make the most of these capabilities does not imply that they cannot, and will not, succeed with them. In fact, the conflict is turning into a protracted war that will amplify the impact of cyber warfare, as through cyber-enabled espionage to allow the Kremlin to target those they believe will be leading any Ukrainian resistance in the event of a Russian victory.  This strategy, the Kremlin's only wartime success to date, will likely not stop in Ukraine; cyber operations have already had consequences in NATO countries that should not be overlooked.

U.S. Developments

The US pushes Russia to the brink of default

Russia is at risk of default after the US restricted its ability to use the dollar reserves located in the American banks. Overall, the Western countries froze roughly $315 billion which is almost half of Russia’s foreign reserves due to its invasion of Ukraine. Although Russia was permitted by the US to pay its investors in dollars by using some of its frozen assets, recently the Biden administration blocked fully Russia’s access to its foreign reserves. It is noteworthy that Russia’s and Russian companies’ foreign currency debt accounts for $150 billion. As Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said, Russia will make the payments in rubles and not in dollars as it does not have access to its foreign dollar stockpiles. But Russia must pay its foreign investors in dollars. Any other way of payment, payment in rubles or no payment at all, will be deemed as a sign of default in Russia. The default will have a severe impact on the Russian economy as it will force foreign investors to leave Russia. This will aggravate the purchasing power of the ruble. 


Irrespective of Russia’s access to half of its $640 billion currency reserves gained by the export of its oil and gas, the long chain of defaults for the government is inevitable. According to experts, the default will be a “nightmare” for the government as it won’t be able to negotiate with bondholders because of war. As Russian finance minister, Anton Siluanov assures, making payment in rubles does not mean default as the payment was technically made. He blamed the Western countries for trying to make Russia declare a default. But, according to him, Russia will use “other mechanisms” to pay its debts.

The White House expects more brutality in Ukraine as the Russian military reorganizes

Russia appointed General Alexander Dvornikov as its new commander to take over operations in Ukraine. His task is to enhance the coordination between Russian forces in Ukraine. The decision of Dvornikov’s appointment as a new commander came after Russia had started focusing on the eastern part of Ukraine, on the Donbas region. This decision was considered as Kremlin's attempt to restore the honour of the Russian army after it failed to take control of Kyiv resulting in severe losses for the Russian military forces and deterioration of their morale. General Alexander Dvornikov is currently Commander of Russia’s Southern Military District often called a "butcher" because of his brutal engagement in the Chechen and Syrian conflicts. Dvornikov commanded the Russian motor rifle division in the 2nd Chechen war in 1999 in the operation that levelled the capital of Chechnya, Grozny, to the ground. Dvornikov was in charge of the Russian forces in Syria in 2015 during the battle for Aleppo where he used Grozny tactics. 


This tactic triggered the killings of tens of thousands of Syrian civilians. Dvornikov’s appointment has diverse implications for the conflict in Ukraine. Firstly, this decision emphasizes Putin’s intention to continue the war in Ukraine for months, if not years. Moreover, he aims to break the spirit of the Ukrainian people. Lastly, it shows Russia’s shift in its command structure. But, according to the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, the most important implication of this appointment is that there will be a “continuation” of the death and destruction in Ukraine. After atrocities, war crimes, and mass killings in Bucha, Kramatorsk and others, as Psaki stated, “this is an indication that we will see more of that.”

Kremlin's Current Narrative

Kremlin claims the truth about the event in Bucha will soon become known

“The truth about the events in Ukrainian Bucha will soon become known”, said Vasily Nebenzya, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN at a press conference. Nebenzya added that what happened in Bucha is precisely a false flag operation carried out by the Kyiv regime and its Western sponsors. The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation stated that all photographs and video materials published by the Kyiv regime, allegedly confirming some kind of crimes by Russian military personnel in the city of Bucha, Kyiv region, are "another provocation." 


Moreover, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Russia categorically rejects any accusations of involvement in the deaths in Bucha and demands that international leaders not rush to sweeping accusations against Russia but listen to Moscow's arguments. In general, Kremlin claims the Bucha massacre was staged by Ukraine. In addition to this, Kremlin by rejecting its massacre in Bucha announced another massacre as a result of so-called “provocation”. At the same time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told that the situation in the city of Borodianka was "significantly direr" than in Bucha, “where alleged killings of civilians by Russian troops are widely condemned’.

Kremlin claims that Russia will not tolerate the killing of civilians in Ukraine

Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov during an online conference of the Schiller Institute said that Russia will not tolerate the killing of civilians in Ukraine, the torture, and the murder of Russian soldiers. According to Antonov, there is a clear need for the United States and its allies to urge Ukraine to comply with international humanitarian law. The head of the Russian diplomatic mission also noted that there should be no threats to Russia from the territory of Ukraine. Antonov stressed again that the task of the special military operation is to “demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, consolidate its status as a nuclear-weapon-free country with adherence to international agreements on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” 


Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov at an online conference, at the Schiller Institute, also added that Western partners of the Kyiv regime should demand from the leadership of Ukraine to comply with the international humanitarian law. Furthermore, Antonov emphasized that "it is necessary to immediately put an end to the spread of fake news which discredits the great mission of the Russian military." Antonov asserted that "a glaring example is a slander against Russia regarding the situation in Bucha." "Staged pictures that distort the truth should be unacceptable," the head of the Russian diplomatic mission said.

Taipei News

The first-ever legislative delegation from Sweden, co-lead by Boriana Åberg, Member of Riksdag and Charlie Weimers, MEP, arrived in Taiwan on Sunday, April 10, for a five-day visit.  “The trip is about finding out more about the people and a country that I have much respect for and have been advocating for in Europe concerning the financial sector and about trade, geopolitics and much more,” Weimers said in an interview with the Deutsche Welle. The 11-member delegation will meet with Taiwan’s Vice-President William Lai (賴清德), representatives of executive bodies, including Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and spokesperson of the Executive Yuan Lo Ping-Cheng (羅秉成) as well as representatives of the business sector, academia, and think tanks. During an exchange with Taiwan’s Digital Minister Audrey Tang (唐鳳), the delegates discussed how Sweden and Taiwan could collaborate on combatting Chinese disinformation campaigns.  


The Lithuania Products Center was officially launched at the Taipei World Trade Center. The display centre, inaugurated by Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua (王美花) and Taiwan External Trade Development Council Chairman James Huang (黃志芳), showcases over 200 products of 22 Lithuanian companies and is meant to facilitate market entry to Taiwan for Lithuanian food producers. Trade-in food and agricultural products is a politically salient issue in relations between Taiwan and Lithuania, and so the opening of the centre can be viewed as an important step towards deeper institutionalization of economic ties between Taipei and Vilnius.


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.

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

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