The CENSS team analyzed 77 publications related to the coverage in Russian segment of social networks and the media regarding weapons supposedly originating from Ukraine and being at the disposal of the HAMAS terrorist organization. The examined publications were made in the period from October 7 to October 10, 2023 (19:00 Kyiv time) and posted on 47 Russian electronic resources, including 43 telegram channels and 4 websites. The total number of views of the analyzed publications is over 12.5 million.
The logical structure of the information activity in the monitored sources and its content indicate another attempt to discredit Ukraine and show that Ukrainian state is unable to organize proper control over modern and highly effective small arms and light weapons (hereinafter referred to as SALW).
The monitoring data illustrate that a number of information operations (active measures) are being implemented in social networks and electronic resources of traditional media, which are controlled by the Russian Federation. It is obvious that the main short-term goal of such efforts is to complicate or totally terminate the supply of foreign weapons to Ukraine.
Stages of revealed information operations
During the monitoring period, the Center`s experts found out the following scheme of separate information operations:
- Preparation of the information field (“warming up”), which has not been stopped for the mentioned theme since the beginning of large-scale aggression.
- Creation or selection of facts for coverage (“weaving”).
- First placement of the required message in the information field with the reference to selected or fabricated “facts” (information “stuffing”).
- Multiple publication by other telegram channels (“dispersal”).
- References to the main narratives of the information operation by Russian officials as proven facts (“reinforcing legitimization”).
The publications in the sources are coordinated, they are very similar in content and tone, and some contain interlinks to each other`s publications. At the same time, all the analyzed publications can be divided into the following types according to their content:
- publications about the alleged transfer/possible transfer of foreign-made SALW from the territory of Ukraine to HAMAS activists, including publications with comments by well-known persons or “experts” (44 publications);
- publications with comments on the statement of the US Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (15 publications) about the tracking of American weapons allegedly used by HAMAS against Israel;
- publications with negative comments on the statement of the Defence Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine (15 publications);
- publications with comments on the statement of the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu (3 publications) about the possibility that the weapons provided to Ukraine could allegedly end up in the hands of Israel`s enemies.
Among the publications of the first type, the largest number (16) are publications with the same video. This video shows SALW with the voice of an alleged HAMAS activist in the background, expressing gratitude to Ukraine for allegedly selling weapons to HAMAS. The authors of these posts/messages name “some Middle Eastern telegram channels” as the original source of this video, which first appeared on the analyzed sources on October 7 at 22:29 Kyiv time. During the following 2.5 hours, such publications were made by 11 analyzed channels, and another 5 – on October 8. Here is an example of the text of one of these publications:
“HAMAS publicly thanked Ukraine for selling them weapons. Middle East TV channels report that most of the RPGs (anti-tank rocket launchers) used by HAMAS in the “Al-Aqsa Flood” operation were supplied from Ukraine”.
In addition, publications of the first type also include those containing comments by well-known persons or “experts” that allegedly the weapons that NATO countries and the Israel`s Ministry of Defense have transferred to Ukraine are being used/may be used against Israeli militaries. Among these persons are Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmytro Medvedev, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mariia Zakharova, Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmytro Peskov, First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs Volodymyr Dzhabarov, Director of the MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations) Center for Military and Political Studies Oleksii Podberyozkin, military correspondent Oleksandr Kots, and President of the Middle East Institute Yevhenii Satanovsky. For example, Dmytro Medvedev`s publications got 1.4 million views:
“Well, NATO friends, have you had enough? The weapons handed over to the neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine are being actively used in Israel. Later, it will be used uncontrollably in all hot spots, just like the weapons left in Afghanistan by the fleeing Americans. After all, the corrupt Ukrainian authorities used to trade everything they received. They stole gas and oil, food, materials. They stole everything in sight. It will only get worse. Expect missiles, tanks, and soon airplanes from Kyiv on the black market.”
The second type of publications concern comments on US Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene`s statement on tracking US weapons allegedly used by HAMAS against Israel, made on Twitter on October 8, 2023. It is also worth mentioning that the author of this publication is a representative of the US Republican Party, who previously voted against the Lend-Lease for Ukraine.
This publication is mentioned/quoted in 15 of the analyzed sources from the Russian segment of the media and telegram channels and is accompanied by approving comments, such as:
“But we know that they mean only Ukraine. Ukrainians sold their brothers for thirty cents, and selling weapons for money is no big deal for them.” or “A good question is half the answer. It is obvious why the Democrats keep silent” and other similar examples.
The third type includes negative publications and attempts to neutralize comments in Russian Telegram channels and electronic resources of traditional media regarding the official statement of the Defence Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine mentioned above. This statement defines Ukraine`s position that “Russia is using the HAMAS terrorists` attack on Israel as a large-scale provocation against Ukraine.” According to the Defence Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, Russia has already handed over to HAMAS trophy weapons made in the United States and the EU that were captured during the fighting in Ukraine. The next step is to falsely accuse the Ukrainian military of selling Western weapons to terrorists on a regular basis. Such a campaign is aimed at discrediting the Ukrainian Armed Forces and completely terminating military assistance to our country from our Western partners.
Russian sources explain this statement as Ukraine “justifying itself” because “on the contrary, Ukraine was involved in the transfer of Western weapons to HAMAS.”
And finally, publications of the fourth type refer to the interview with Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu on June 22, 2023, in which he suggested that the weapons provided to Ukraine could end up in the hands of Israel`s enemies, in particular Iran. In the publications of the analyzed Russian telegram channels, this interview is used as a possible basis for confirming the thesis that Ukraine is involved in the supply of weapons to HAMAS.
However, it is worth mentioning that Israel has not officially confirmed the use of weapons from Ukraine by HAMAS, and the Israel army spokesperson on RT Arabic called it “a lie and a fabrication.”
It is also worth pointing out the statement of President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro, who noted that the US and European governments “turn a blind eye when all these weapons they sent to Ukraine end up on the black market.” Such a statement could be another additional argument for the Russian narrative that Ukraine is involved in the supply of Western weapons to other countries. It is important to remind that Russia is a key ally of Venezuela, particularly in the areas of gas and oil production, trade, construction, engineering, military and military-technical cooperation. Moreover, the Russian Federation provides Venezuela with financial support, and Venezuela has an outstanding financial debt to Russia.
The results of the foregoing monitoring indicate that the Russian Federation is taking deliberate actions to “hunt” for Western weapons and further conduct discrediting information campaigns against Ukraine. Russia’s information campaigns are aimed at undermining Ukraine`s reputation among its international partners and are intended to block or disrupt their arms supplies, accompanied by attempts to apply diplomatic pressure on them.
Such Russian actions demand active countermeasures from Ukraine, both independently and in coordination with international partners.
Russia can use foreign-made SALW that it has acquired to transport to other regions of the world using the resources of its own intelligence agencies and/or private military companies.
In addition to the Palestinian territories, the foreign-made weapons acquired by Russia may also be transferred to “rogue states” (e.g., Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, etc.) for further study and development of their own weapons (reverse engineering) and further strengthening of their military assets.
Photo source: BBC
 The reference is to the statement of the Defence Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine of October 9, 2023 (https://t.me/DIUkraine/2927) that the Russian special services are conducting a campaign to discredit Ukraine in the Middle East.