war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

New textbook for occupied territory tells children that Ukraine burns all Russian books and serves ‘Blood of a russky’ cocktails

Halya Coynash
Russia’s new textbook for occupied Ukraine aims to brainwash Ukrainian children into believing that Ukraine is the aggressor state and Russia the country they should want to ‘defend’ with their lives

Russian army ’in defence of the fatherland’ cover, Young woman waiting for rescue workers after the Russians bombed her Dnipro apartment block, killing the rest of her family Photo Hromadske

Russian army ’in defence of the fatherland’ cover, Young woman waiting for rescue workers after the Russians bombed her Dnipro apartment block, killing the rest of her family Photo Hromadske

The ‘textbook’ for Russia’s new school subject ‘Foundations of security and defence of the fatherland’ justifies Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine with lies that are chillingly reminiscent of those used by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939.  The lies are all the more shocking as the aggressor state is planning to instil such propaganda and glorification of ‘Russia’s army’ in occupied parts of Ukraine.  The aim is to encourage Ukrainian children, as well as Russian, to want to fight, claiming this to be “in defence” of a country waging an unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine.

The BBC’s Ukrainian Service has scrutinized the textbook just published for the new course on ‘the foundations of security and defence of the fatherland’ to be launched at the beginning of the new school year in September 2024.  The compulsory course is to be taught at one lesson each week for Grades 8 to 11, however the new textbook ‘The Russian army in defence of the fatherland’ is written for Grades 10 and 11.  Its co-authors include lieutenant general Rafael Timoshev and Igor Chernyak, deputy editor of the Kremlin’s ‘Rossiyskaya gazeta’. The historical distortions and outright lies in the book are shocking, yet essentially nothing new.  Back in August 2023, Russia’s education minister Sergei Kravtsov presented a new ‘history textbook’ for Grades 10-11, which also effectively accused Ukraine of having caused what the rest of the world understands to have been Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.  As for Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea, its rewriting of the facts began considerably earlier, with Russia calling this the ‘reunification of Crimea with Russia’ and doctoring the chronology of events so that Russian soldiers were supposedly present only to guarantee ‘safety’ at the fake referendum of 16 March 2014.

Judging by the excerpts available, the historical lies do appear to have become more brazen, while the book is also an unconcealed attempt to glorify fighting in Russia’s armed forces and to brainwash Ukrainian children into believing that such military action would be “defending their country”. Another co-author, Nikita Gololobov, from the Prosveshcheniye publishing company, calls the book a good aid for school students’ ‘military-patriotic education’ and “instils love for military matters, readiness to serve when called up, and generally, [readiness] at the first call of the fatherland to come to its defence”.  One lesson a week is not a lot, however additional courses or camps are also planned, at which children will be taught how to shoot from Kalashnikov rifles, etc.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has long sought to glorify ‘veterans’ of Russia’s war against Ukraine, with these including a very large number of convicted criminals who were recruited for money and the promise of a ‘presidential pardon’ if they agreed to fight in Ukraine.  It remains to be seen whether the apparent requirement that those ‘veterans’ who wish to teach the new course must have a pedagogical background and go on a retraining course will reduce the number of violent criminals already sent into schools to teach children about ‘courage’ and ‘defending the fatherland’.

The language and lies are at times positively Orwellian. One of the photos for example, of a Russian tank, has as its caption that “Sometimes peace can only be restored with the help of tanks.”  

The aggressor state which swiftly moved to crush all aspects of Ukrainian identity in occupied Crimea and Donbas tried to justify its invasion in February 2014 with the following.

When, in February 2014, there was a coup d-etat in Kyiv, the new government launched a crackdown on everything Russian. They began burning Russian books in bulk, destroying monuments, banning Russian songs and the very Russian language. <> The slogan ‘Hang the Russian’ began popular in the country and a cocktail called ‘blood of a russky’ [moskal] appeared in restaurants.”

Many of the lies that follow about occupied parts of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts are those that were circulated by Russia’s propaganda machine from 2014.  

The most insane nonsense comes in the attempt to blame Ukraine for Russia’s full-scale invasion on 24 February 2022.

Donbas asks for help.

At the Munich Conference on 19 February 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky threatened Russia that Ukraine was planning to have nuclear weapons.  That same day two rockets landed on the territory of Rostov oblast.  And on 21 February, a Russian border post was destroyed by a missile launched from Ukraine.  According to our military intelligence, these strikes were ‘practice steps’ before a big operation during which Kyiv was planning to return Donbas and seize [sic!] Crimea, after which NATO forces were due to be placed there. Near the borders of DPR and LPR [the Russian proxy ‘Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics’] a huge number of Ukrainian forces and equipment were concentrated, and reconnaissance places were constantly circling in the sky.  The people’s republic of Donbas turned to Moscow for help”.

All of this echoes both the Nazis’ attempt to claim Poland had initiated Germany’s invasion, and the Soviet lies to justify their aggression against Finland.  Under Putin, Russia has steadily persecuted those Russians seeking to tell the truth about the Soviet Terror, and has effectively ‘rehabilitated’ mass murderer and dictator Joseph Stalin.  All of the attempts to hide behind ‘calls for help’ are also straight out of Stalin’s textbook.

After two years of savage bombing and carnage, Russia is still pushing its ‘brotherly nations’ narrative.  Using Moscow’s euphemistic term ‘special military operation’ [SMO] to describe its war of aggression, the text claims that “we are not fighting our Ukrainian brothers, but the regime which is hostile to Russia and which is supported by the West.

Therefore, the main difference in the tactics of Russian ‘SMO’ units, is that they try in all ways to protect the life of the civilian population and avoid unnecessary destruction. The Ukrainian side on the other regularly carries out strikes not at military targets, but at critical infrastructure – plumbing, refineries, electricity stations, as well as hospitals, schools, residential buildings.   Russia fights honestly, while Ukraine often behaves in a low, foul manner. “

There are quite staggering lies, with the authors claiming that the massive damage and carnage to residential buildings, hospitals, schools, etc. in Mariupol, were not caused by its relentless missile strikes and shelling from tanks, but by “Nazis and mercenaries”.  It is claimed that Russia scrupulously complies with the Geneva Conventions in its treatment of prisoners of war. 

In Russia and on occupied Ukrainian territory, those who tell the truth about Russia’s bombing of civilian targets, torture of civilians and prisoners of war, extrajudicial killings, etc. are imprisoned or killed.  Presumably this, and the fact that Russia can prevent international monitors from visiting tortured POWs, the scenes of Russia’s gravest war crimes, etc. have led Moscow to believe that the lies, if repeated stubbornly enough, will drown out the truth.  They will not, as demonstrated, for example, in the documented evidence presented in three extensive reports by the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, and extensive investigations into war crimes by, among others, the International Criminal Court at the Hague. 

The latter has just issued its second lot of international arrest warrants, this time against high-ranking Russian commanders responsible for carrying out Russia’s criminal bombing of Ukrainian critical civilian infrastructure.  Arrest warrants should also be considered against those guilty of the above methods of indoctrination and militarization aimed at brainwashing Ukrainian children to glorify and want to fight in the invader’s army.

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