Russia tries to downplay importance of US aid for Ukraine

The Bell

On state TV over the weekend, Russian propagandists tried to minimize the importance of the US House of Representatives approving $61 billion of military aid to Ukraine after months of delay. The key message on Russian airwaves was that most of this money would remain in the States, and would simply bring more pain for Ukrainian forces fighting on the frontlines.

  • Russian news broadcasts devoted a lot of time to the US Congress finally advancing a package of support for Ukraine. On the most watched TV channels (Channel 1, Rossiya 1 and NTV), the coverage focused on opposition to the bill inside the US and bigging up the claim that the package is primarily an investment in Washington’s own defense sector. “Most of the money will remain in the USA,” reported Channel 1.
  • “This is an order for Ukrainians to keep dying on behalf of American suppliers,” said notorious propagandist Dmitry Kiselyov. “This isn’t about Russia, this is about our goals,” said Irada Zeynalova on NTV. In addition, that channel inserted a spot of fake news into its coverage of the bill, falsely accusing Joe Biden of muddling up the Czech Republic and Czechoslovakia during a meeting with Czech PM Petr Fiala. This was presented as “evidence” of Biden’s serious mental health issues.    
  • Several Russian officials also rushed to comment on the passing of the bill. Former president turned hawk-in-chief Dmitry Medvedev called it a “vote of gleeful American bastards.” Maria Zakharova, foreign ministry press secretary, said the vote showed the US was “driving Ukrainians to the slaughter.”

Why the world should care

A large portion of the aid (more than $23 billion) will go towards replenishing American arsenals, with $13.8 billion on new weapons and $10 billion intended as a loan that Ukraine (theoretically) will someday repay. One way or another, the aid package is significant — almost equivalent to the amount that the US has given to Ukraine since the start of the war more than two years ago. The Russian authorities understand its importance, and after months of depicting the West as split on support to Ukraine, they are now spinning a narrative that it won’t make a difference and most of the money will stay in America.


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