Pro-Kremlin French-language media spread Russian disinformation about Kyiv children’s hospital attack

A disinformation campaign involving Kremlin officials, Russian state media, and pro-Kremlin media in Europe has accompanied Russia’s missile attacks on Ukraine and the horrific consequences of the bombing of hospitals.

Since the Russian missile attack on the Kyiv children’s hospital “Okhmatdyt” on July 8, pro-Kremlin media in Germany have been spreading disinformation about the missile strike. 

Biased reports have manipulated this tragic event, which caused severe casualties and damage, in an effort to propagate Russian claims in Europe and shift the blame away from the Russian troops.

Eyewitness videos quickly refuted the official Russian channels’ initial claim that falling debris caused the damage to the children’s hospital. Then Russian propaganda switched to pushing the claim that it was an air defense missile.

However, numerous fact-checkers, OSINT analysts, and the official investigation have proven that this was a Russian Kh-101 missile that directly hit the hospital. Bellingcat and GeoConfirmed provided detailed investigations proving this.

However, numerous pro-Russian news websites in Germany disseminate biased reports, exclusively presenting Russian versions of the Russian missile attacks on Ukraine. We analyzed the reports and revealed those who disseminated Russia’s debunked disinformation. 

Some of them reported only the Russian claim without citing the official version, Ukraine’s statements, or fact-checkers’ analysis.

Reseau International, RT, Sputnik, RRN, Stratpol and NewsNet

The main target of the pro-Kremlin media in France has been to spread the Russian version that an AIM-120 air defense missile hit the hospital. Of course, this is a false information.

And the fact that it was a Russian Kh-101 missile was proven by its shape in the video and the wreckage at the impact site. But here’s what the pro-Kremlin French newspaper Reseau International wrote:.

“The pathetic false propaganda of the Atlanticist merdias has once again been proven wrong: the attack on the Kiev pediatric hospital on July 8, 2024, was not carried out by a Russian missile but was the result of a misfire by the Ukrainian-Atlanticist air defense system… The reality is that it was an AIM-120 missile from a NATO NASAMS anti-aircraft system.”

  • https://reseauinternational.net/fact-checking-de-lattaque-de-lhopital-pediatrique-de-kiev-du-08-07-2024

At the same time, the pro-Kremlin media outlet referred to the anonymous French-language telegram channel infodefenseFRreserve, which was the first to spread this disinformation.

  • https://t.me/infodefenseFRreserve/4376

These pieces were produced by such authors as Vincent Gouysse and Erwan Castel. They picked up disinformation from Russian and English-language sources that promote Kremlin narratives and fakes. These propagandists are trying to shift the responsibility for the Russian strike to Ukraine and do not raise any questions about the fact that Russia has been firing missiles at Ukrainian cities.

These disinformation efforts were led by key Russian state international multilingual propaganda platforms, RT and Sputnik, both banned in the EU for spreading disinformation and supporting Russia’s war against Ukraine.

RT articles quote Putin’s spokesman, Peskov, blaming Ukrainian anti-aircraft missiles:

“The Kremlin stressed on July 9 that Russia never strikes civilian targets, denouncing the fall of a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile on a children’s hospital in Kiev. “We are talking about the fall of an anti-missile system,”  insisted Dmitri Peskov, stressing that the Russian army never targets civilians: “Strikes are carried out against critical infrastructure for military purposes, linked in one way or another to the regime’s military potential,”  he added.”

  • https://francais.rt.com/russie/112232-direct-entretien-entre-poutine-modi
  • https://francais.rt.com/russie/112234-frappes-kiev-kremlin-denonce-chute-missile-ukrainien

Sputnik followed the partners from the Kremlin-owned propaganda media network. “Russia only strikes targets related to Kiev’s military potential, assures Dmitri Peskov. The Russian Defense Ministry had previously denied claims that civilian sites had been targeted by Russia in Ukraine. According to the Ministry, the damage caused on Monday was due to the fall of a Ukrainian anti-missile.”

  • https://fr.sputniknews.africa/20240709/la-russie-ne-frappe-que-les-cibles-ayant-trait-au-potentiel-militaire-de-kiev-assure-dmitri-peskov-1067429699.html

These false reports on a tragic event and an alleged war crime were disseminated by several other pro-Russian outlets: NewsNet, Stratpol, and RRN.

“Hospital strike: Peskov accuses Kiev of “bloody” PR operations.”

  • http://www.newsnet.fr/252241

“Moscow accuses a US missile of hitting a children’s hospital in Kiev. The official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said that the impact of a missile from the NASAMS anti-aircraft missile system on the territory of a children’s hospital in Kiev had been confirmed. She commented on the destruction of the Okhmatdyt medical facility.”

  • https://stratpol.com/moscou-accuse-un-missile-americain-detre-tombe-sur-un-hopital-pour-enfants-de-kiev

“Given the force of the strike, it seems more likely that the vessel was hit by a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile. The shape of the missile corresponds to that of the American AIM-120 of the NASAMS air defense system.”

  • https://rrn.media/fr/lotan-se-desaffectionne-de-lukraine

The pro-Russian website Egalite et Reconciliation, led by far-right conspiracy theorist Alain Soral, did not support this claim but didn’t condemn the Russian attack either. On the other hand, it mentions the Kremlin’s version and attempts to soften the blame on Russia by manipulating the comparison between Russian strikes on Ukraine and Israeli strikes on Gaza.

“(Russian missile strike) For the Western press, while Russia defends itself by blaming yet another US ground-to-air defense strike, this is indeed a war crime. However, this event, which happens almost daily in Gaza and doesn’t make the same waves, seems to “launch” the big NATO summit in Washington, putting Russia back in the camp of absolute evil.”

  • https://egaliteetreconciliation.fr/La-Russie-a-t-elle-decide-de-bombarder-massivement-les-villes-76140.html

Jackson Hinkle, a political activist who has appeared on Russian state propaganda media, was among the first X users who made the incorrect claim that the missile was US-made. We should mention that Hinkle has been banned from several social media platforms for spreading fake news.

The independent investigative team Belingcat provided detailed analysis that debunks these false claims. The report includes comparisons of screenshots and pictures, as well as photos of missile remnants at the attack site.

The dissemination of disinformation by pro-Kremlin media in France not only distorts the reality of the tragic event, but also exacerbates the suffering of those affected by the attack.

The missile strike on the children’s hospital in Kyiv showed once again that Russian military operations are regularly backed by disinformation efforts and the spread of false versions of events. Thus, it proves once again that such hybrid attacks require high vigilance and prompt counteraction to disinformation in crisis situations.

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