What was claimed
Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine to stop child trafficking.
False. Mr Putin's publicly stated reasons for invading Ukraine were to "denazify" Ukraine, prevent the eastward expansion of NATO and protect Russia from external threats.
By Catherine Smith
An article published by a conspiracy theory website claims Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine to stop child trafficking.
The article, published by Real Raw News, has been viewed over 75,000 times. The organisation's Facebook page was removed from the social media platform, however the article was shared on Facebook on March 17, in a post made by a private user.
The article also claims that Mr Putin intended to destroy Ukrainian child slavery covens and destroy Western-funded biolabs.
RMIT FactLab found no evidence to suggest Mr Putin invaded Ukraine to stop child trafficking. Rather, in an address delivered on February 24, the day Russian forces invaded Ukraine, Mr Putin stated his reason for the assault was to "denazify" Ukraine, prevent the eastward expansion of NATO and protect Russia from external threats.
The address, uploaded to YouTube on February 25, was translated by Dr Michael Rossi, a political scientist at Rutgers University in the United States.
Mr Putin also said, “The purpose of this operation is to protect people who, for eight years now, have been facing humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kiev regime”.
The author of the article, Michael Baxter, claims to be a former mainstream journalist. He says the source of his article is an unnamed person, who was present during a phone call between Mr Putin and former US President Donald Trump where the matter was discussed.
Real Raw News’ Go Fund Me and Give Send Go campaigns document the organiser as a person called Michael Tuffin. Photos from Mr Tuffin’s Flickr account are also used on the Real Raw News Twitter profile.
The article states: “Putin claims he wants to repatriate all the kids, but since European countries have closed airspace to Russian flights … Trump will bring our children home”.
Experts told FactLab that narratives about saving the children have been promulgated by the conspiracy theory group, QAnon, to recruit new members.
Author and conspiracy theory researcher, Mike Rothschild, said that QAnon has disseminated similar theories about Mr Putin’s reason for declaring war. “The narrative of the fake story and the other posts going around is more or less the same as what Q[Anon] believers have been pushing since the invasion started,” said Mr Rothschild, the author of The Storm is Upon Us.
“Linking Putin with the effort to end child trafficking is a blatant dog whistle to QAnon and its believers. It shows that whoever is coming up with the fake stories for Real Raw News knows their audience, and what these people respond to,” he said.
Dr Oleksandr Pankieiev, an expert in Russian-Ukraine affairs, from the University of Alberta, Canada, told FactLab that in Mr Putin’s address on February 24 he used historical reasoning to describe the threat Ukraine poses. “He used different historical facts that are misinterpreted and are usually false … it’s propaganda”, Dr Pankieiev said.
The Russian President’s official site, Kremlin, was offline at the time of writing. However, Dr Pankieiev downloaded the transcript on the day it was delivered and provided FactLab with a copy.
When Russia invaded Ukraine, Mr Putin announced the purpose was to defend Russia from the “threats created for us and from a worse peril than what is happening now”. He also cited historic reasoning, saying that in the 1980s when the Soviet Union broke apart, “We lost confidence for only one moment, but it was enough to disrupt the balance of forces in the world.”
False. There is no evidence to suggest Mr Putin invaded Ukraine to stop child trafficking. In an address delivered on February 24, the day Russian forces invaded Ukraine, Mr Putin publicly stated that his reasons for the assault were to "denazify" Ukraine, prevent the eastward expansion of NATO and protect Russia from external threats. The concept of saving children is a narrative used by the conspiracy theory group, QAnon.
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