The announcement by the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, accused of war crimes on three continents, that it captured the town of Bakhmut in the Ukrainian Donbas was of strategic importance not for the operations on the battlefield but for Russian propaganda.
Russian propaganda machine uses Wagner’s claim on the capture of Bakhmut
Instantly after Wagner’s boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, announced that he had allegedly gained complete control of the destroyed town in Donbas, Russian propagandists began to boast of victory. After all, the Kremlin’s mouthpieces still cannot present Russians with any achievements in the absurd war of aggression, where more than 150,000 Russian soldiers have died.
Moreover, the topic of the “conquest of Bakhmut” has been promptly picked up by Russia’s agents of influence in the EU. Pro-Russian politicians and commentators use the Bakhmut issue to convince their followers that it is necessary to stop supplying weapons to Ukraine. Of course, the ultimate goal of such narratives is to weaken Ukraine’s defence capabilities and thus give the Russian invaders an advantage.
French far-right politician Philippot uses Bakhmut events to demand to stop weapons supply to Ukraine
The French far-right politician Florian Philippot reacted promptly and commented on the “capture of Bakhmut” in this exact way.
“Zelensky lost Bakhmout contrary to what all the experts have been trumpeting for months! It’s time to stop sending weapons, soon planes, what madness! And the billions paid in corruption in Ukraine! Negotiation of a peace plan!” Philippot wrote in his tweet.
Of course, while demanding negotiations, the French far-right politician forgets to demand that Russian invading troops leave the territory of sovereign Ukraine, which they have illegally seized.
It’s not the first time Philippot has made calls that favour the Kremlin. In general, far-right radicals have traditionally played into Moscow’s hands by opposing a united and strong Europe, opposing aid to Ukraine, and opposing sanctions against Russia.
Who is Florian Philippot?
Florian Philippot is a French far-right politician and conspiracy theorist. At age 30, he became a strategist of Marine Le Pen’s presidential campaign. His older brother Damien has been a recognized sociologist, a valuable trade for election.
For five years, Philippot was vice president of Le Pen’s party, the National Front. This far-right party received a significant loan from a Russian bank. Philippot’s career skyrocketed; he got elected to a municipal council and then to the European Parliament. Then he split from Le Pen and launched a new Eurosceptic party, The Patriotes.
Philippot promotes Russian propaganda throughout the Russian invasion of Ukraine, repeating Moscow’s narratives. He doesn’t rely on sociology and goes against the French, who believe the invasion is unjust. He blames NATO and the US. Philippot criticizes Ukraine’s appeal for weapons but doesn’t condemn Putin’s war.
Wagner’s claim of Bakhmut
The capture of Bakhmut was claimed on Saturday by Wagner’s group owner, a close Putin ally, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who assured at the time that his mercenaries control the whole town and would hand it over to Russian regular troops on May 25.
The Ukrainian government has not confirmed the loss of Bakhmut. The commander of the Ukrainian ground forces, Oleksandr Syrsky, said on Sunday that his troops were now in control of only an “insignificant” part of Bakhmut but were continuing to advance on its flanks.
Meanwhile, Russia’s war continues, and the city of Dnipro, in east-central Ukraine, was targeted on Sunday night by 16 missiles and 20 Russian explosive drones.
During the “night attack”, “four Kh-101/Kh-555 cruise missiles and 20 Shahed attack drones were destroyed by air defence,” the Ukrainian military said in a statement on Facebook. The strikes destroyed a fire station and damaged several residential buildings, according to local media. Seven people were injured.