Myths about the Russian-Ukrainian war in the Iranian mass media


Iran is one of the most sanctioned countries in the world. In terms of the number of imposed sanctions, it is second only to Russia.

Iran is one of the most sanctioned countries in the world. Source:

After the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, Tehran supported the Russian Federation and provided military assistance:

«Iran has become Russia’s top military backer. Russia’s been using Iranian drones to strike energy infrastructure, depriving millions of Ukrainians of power, heat, and critical services. People in Ukraine today are actually dying as a result of Iran’s actions,» said John Kirby, US national security council spokesman.

Iran officially denies its involvement in providing any military aid to Russia.


The position of the Iranian mass media regarding Russia’s war against Ukraine: “the USA is to blame for everything”

Note that all media in Iran are subject to censorship. In 2022, the country ranked second for internet censorship.

There is practically no room for free media in Iran

All media unanimously deny military aid to Russia from their country

The state media «IRNA» presents analytical material on the «problem of membership in NATO», in which it explains the reason for the war in Ukraine:

«One of the reasons for the start of the Ukrainian crisis was the promotion of the project of Russophobia and the accession of other countries to NATO.»

What is interesting is that the media does not mention the events of the Russian-Ukrainian war, or the crimes of the Russian military (shelling of the civilian population, missile strikes on critical infrastructure, etc.). In the context of the war, there are only references to the provision of military and economic aid to Ukraine by Western partners due to the «escalation of the conflict» and news about Russia and its attempts to «search for a diplomatic solution to the war.»

Also, journalists often avoid the word «war», instead using the wording «Ukrainian crisis«, or «conflict«.

The «conflict» in Ukraine is actually Russia’s bloody war against the people of Ukraine. Photo: Reuters

Hamshahri, Iran’s main national newspaper, blames America for the war in Ukraine:

«This war was created by America, and even now America is making the biggest profit from this war. The people of Ukraine are in trouble, and American arms factories are taking advantage of this.»

Journalists of the Iranian newspaper «Kayhan» say the following:

«Europe and America have turned Ukraine into their weapons laboratory, and many of these weapons first fall into the hands of criminal groups, and secondly, some of these weapons remain unused in the hands of the Ukrainian government, because the Ukrainian military does not know how to use them.»

In the newspaper «Resalat» there are also accusations against America:

«The regime of the United States of America creates crises and feeds on them.

Ukraine is also a victim of this crisis policy. America brought Ukraine to the state it is in by interfering in its internal affairs and organizing meetings against the government.»

Let’s analyze the main theses of the Iranian mass media regarding the war in Ukraine and what is wrong with them.


“Iran does not supply drones to Russia”

Israeli President Yitzhak Herzog said that his country has evidence that Russia uses Iranian kamikaze drones: the Israeli Defense Ministry found fragments of Iranian Shahed-136 attack drones in Ukraine.

Representatives of the US Department of Defense indicate that Tehran supplies Russia with its drones: they published photos and analysis of the drones.

Iranian kamikaze drones Shahed-136 under the Russian name «Geran-2» kill Ukrainians and destroy critical infrastructure

The Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine also stated that they have no doubts about the involvement of officials, legal entities and individuals in the production and supply of drones to the Russian Federation:

«We have this information that confirms Iran’s involvement in this. And we will prove the guilt of these officials, these individuals both in national courts and in international courts, using evidentiary information for this. And right now, the investigative bodies are collecting evidence with which we will be able to convince the court of their involvement in these crimes,» stressed Yurii Belousov, head of the Department for Combating Crimes Committed in Conditions of Armed Conflict, of the Prosecutor General’s Office.


“Russia attacked Ukraine because of Russophobia and NATO expansion”

«Russophobia is a term that initially indicates fear, but in this case it means hatred. Hate, on the other hand, presupposes the existence of a reason for hatred. Logically, hatred is a reaction to some threatening actions that can cost a person’s life. Hate is a feeling that does not arise out of nowhere, it is a secondary reaction to a threat. And she is defensive. Ukraine did not invade the territory of Russia, and verbal structures cannot be the cause of the attack, they can only generate a verbal reaction.

Volodymyr Tsybulko, an expert of the «Politika» analytical center

The brilliant speech of Timothy Snyder [American historian, writer, professor of Yale University, specialist in the history of Ukraine, author] at the session of the UN General Assembly on the nature of «Russophobia» precisely as a tool to justify Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, actually disarmed those who promoted this thesis. — comments on Russia’s attack on Ukraine due to Russophobia Volodymyr Tsibulko, expert of the analytical center «Politika» (an independent non-profit self-governing organization whose mission is to analyze the political processes of Ukraine and international events from the point of view of Ukraine’s interests).


The threat of Russia due to NATO expansion is also speculation.

Russia’s statements about a promise from NATO «not to expand» are false, because there was no such promise. the Russian mass media refer to the fact that such a promise was «verbally» given to Mikhail Gorbachev, but Gorbachev himself denied this statement.

About 20 years ago, Russia was one of NATO’s main partners in the east and saw no threat from NATO. Now the NATO bloc is «the main threat to Russia»

NATO members have never made any political or legal commitment not to extend the alliance beyond the borders of a united Germany.

«Claims that NATO has pledged not to expand fundamentally misrepresent the nature of the alliance. NATO, as a defense alliance, is not «expanding» in the imperialist sense. NATO membership decisions are made by each individual applicant and the 30 current NATO members. Each sovereign state can choose its own path, and the border states — in this case, Russia — have no right to interfere,» the Delegation of the European Union to the People’s Republic of China document states.


“America interfered in the internal affairs of Ukraine and started the war”

America’s influence on the internal politics of Ukraine is a myth. Ukraine is a democratic country. The presidential elections were held in accordance with democratic standards, which is reflected in the assessments of international observers.

If there was any influence on domestic politics, it was only from the side of Russia. This is stated in the report of the Atlantic Council, an analytical center, a non-governmental organization of the United States, which mainly studies the international relations of the Atlantic community and international security problems.

Anatoly Kurnosov, expert of the Center for Political Studies «Doctrine»

We asked Anatoly Kurnosov, an expert at the Center for Political Studies «Doctrine» to refute the thesis that America started the war:

«It is clear that the media of Iran, an authoritarian country that is an ally of Putin’s Russia, supplying it with drones that kill Ukrainians, blames the USA for everything, justifying its own theocratic regime. Back in 2017, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared that the United States was the enemy. Therefore, Iranian propaganda narratives are practically identical to Russian ones.

Meanwhile, it is obvious that the USA was by no means interested in Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Let’s remember that after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, American democracy has been waging wars for more than 20 years. This is exhausting both on the budget and on public opinion, so its leaders have recently been looking for allies to whom they can shift some of the burden and costs of maintaining the current system and security balance. For example, Japan has become such in the Pacific region.

The goal of Washington’s policy in the last two decades was to separate Moscow from its main competitor, Beijing. All the numerous concessions to Russia and attempts to «reset» relations, starting from the time of Obama and ending with Biden’s agreement after his election to the post of US president, to the completion of «Nord Stream-2», the continuation of «New START» (agreement on reducing strategic nuclear weapons) actually on the terms of the Kremlin.

In an effort to reduce the burden of American military spending in Europe, Joe Biden generally hoped at the beginning of his term to make a bet on Germany as a leader in maintaining security in the region, which it did not live up to.

Thus, in the spring of 2021, President Joe Biden announced that he refused new US sanctions on the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline, as it is almost completed and imposing sanctions is counterproductive from the point of view of American relations with Europe, primarily with Germany.

On July 21, 2021, the United States and Germany announced that they had officially agreed to complete the construction of the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, publishing a joint declaration with promises to Ukraine. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called it a «good step» even then.

In general, in 2021, it seemed that the possibility of a gradual withdrawal of the United States from Europe could prevail in discussions about the foreign policy strategy of the United States. In particular, in the article «Exactly How Helpless Is Europe?» professor of Harvard University and one of the main representatives of the neo-realist school of international relations Steven M. Walt, the author questioned whether Europe is really so weak that it cannot defend itself against potential threats and must use the military support of the United States.

That is, Walt was in favor of a joint plan to reduce the military presence agreed with the allies, one of the main goals of which would be to «throw Europe into the water» in order to force greater efforts in the field of ensuring its own security. Then America could focus its interest on the Indo-Pacific region, where there is a threat to its strategic interests, and also pay more attention to internal modernization.

Walt argued that the worst-case scenario, which would be a Russian attack on the Baltic states or Poland (that is, what would happen if Ukraine fell in the first days) was unlikely, and therefore to conduct a policy with Russia, recognizing it as «what it is «, and moving the borders of the North Atlantic Alliance closer to Russia did not live up to expectations, because Central Europe (in particular, Poland) does not meet the standards of Western democracies, and therefore the efforts of the West to protect this region are unnecessary.

So, instead of blaming the US for starting the war, we can rather talk about the too soft and accommodating position at that stage towards Russia, the unconvincing signals that did not convince Putin that America will not stand aside, as well as insufficient faith in stability of the Ukrainian army, society and the state to Russian aggression».


Weapons provided to Ukraine end up on black markets

This myth has already been refuted by The Ukrainian: the probability of Western weapons entering the black markets is extremely low, and no such cases have been recorded.

Ukrainian military skillfully use Western weapons to protect against Russian aggression


The Ukrainian military does not know how to use the weapons provided

The Ukrainian military is learning to use Western weapons. For example, in Germany, Canada and Poland, they learn to drive Leopard and Leopard 2 tanks, in Britain — Challenger 2 tanks, in Estonia they learn to drive FH-70 howitzers, in Germany — PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers, in Italy — SAMP/T anti-aircraft systems, in the USA — by HIMARS and other systems.

Viktor Yermoshkin, analyst at the Analytical Center for Studying and Countering Hybrid Threats

Viktor Yermoshkin, an analyst at the Analytical Center for Studying and Countering Hybrid Threats, refutes this myth

«In September 2022, a partial mobilization was announced in the Russian Federation. The Kremlin was forced to take this unpopular step due to very large losses at the front and the impossibility of holding the front line with the available forces. By September 2022, the professional army of the Russian Federation was effectively defeated, bloodless and exhausted. At the same time, the losses of the Armed Forces are several orders of magnitude lower. This state of affairs is possible only under the condition of effective use of the available weapons, including Western weapons, by the Armed Forces.

«For now, it is known that the USSR suffered heavy losses in armored vehicles (about 3,500 tanks, 6,900 armored vehicles, 2,600 artillery systems). The Kremlin is forced to remove from storage old tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery systems of the 50s and 60s, because the Russian military-industrial complex does not have sufficient capacity to restore and produce modern equipment to compensate for losses. This fact also proves the effective use of weapons provided by the Armed Forces.

A vivid example of a very effective use of weapons and weapons that change the rules of the game on the battlefield is the use of Western-made MLRS by the Armed Forces, in particular the well-known HIMARS complex. The effective use of these complexes led to the breakdown of the logistics system of the Russian Armed Forces, the displacement of warehouses and control points from the front line to a range beyond the reach of these MLRS complexes. This complicated the supply of Russian troops on the battlefield and complicated the management of troops.

Separately, it should be noted the significant role of short- and medium-range air defense equipment supplied by Western countries to Ukraine. Competent and effective use of this weaponry of the Armed Forces has already led to a significant strengthening of Ukrainian anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense, excluded the use of aviation by the Russians in large cities, excluded Russian dominance in the air.»



Iranian narratives are almost the same as Russian ones. Along with military aid, Iran supports Russia in spreading fakes and propaganda aimed at justifying armed aggression against Ukraine.


Anna Ostymchuk

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