Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy drew parallels Monday between Hamas attacks on Israelis and Russian strikes on Ukrainians, calling them “equally evil.”
“And the Israelis themselves, the Israeli journalists who were with us, in Ukraine, who were in Bucha, now say that they saw the same evil where Russia came. Equal evil. And there is only one difference: There is a terrorist organization that struck Israel, here there is a terrorist state that struck Ukraine,” Zelenskyy told participants at a NATO meeting via video link.
“The declared intentions are different, but the essence is the same. You see it. You see the same blood on the streets. The same shot civilian cars. These are the same bodies of tortured people,” the Ukrainian leader said.
Ukraine’s main intelligence directorate Monday accused Russian intelligence of conducting a campaign to discredit Kyiv.
“The aggressor state Russia is using the Hamas terrorist attack on the State of Israel for a large-scale provocation against Ukraine. The Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine reports that the Russian GRU has already transferred captured weapons produced in the USA and EU countries to Hamas terrorists captured during the fighting in Ukraine,” said a statement on the department’s Facebook page.
Russia has not signaled that it is supporting any party in the conflict, and has called on all sides to cease violence and negotiate. But Hamas leaders reportedly have traveled to Moscow several times in recent years, and Moscow and Tehran are strategic allies.
In a follow-up interview with VOA’s Ukrainian Service, representative Andrii Yusov of Ukraine’s intelligence directorate said they have information that Russian agents have taken captured equipment in Ukraine and begun handing it over to representatives of Hamas, to create the impression that Ukrainian officials have been selling off the weapons.
“We have information that some of the trophy weapons captured in Ukraine have already been handed over [by Russia] to terrorists-representatives of Hamas, with further unfolding of this IPSO (informational and psychological special operation) and the conclusion that Ukraine was selling something to someone.”
Yusov warned there will be more false accusations that Hamas militants are allegedly fighting the Israeli army with weapons from Ukraine.
Russia hopes attacks divert attention
The American Institute for the Study of War wrote in a report on October 7 that the Kremlin is using, and will likely continue to use, Hamas attacks in Israel to promote information campaigns aimed at reducing U.S. and Western support for and attention to Ukraine.
“The Kremlin has stepped up several information operations since the Hamas attacks in Israel on October 7, most notably accusing the West of neglecting conflicts in the Middle East in favor of supporting Ukraine and declaring that the international community will stop paying attention to Ukraine while reaffirming attention to the Middle East,” ISW analysts say.
The report quotes one Russian propagandist as saying that Russia would benefit from the escalation as the world would “temporarily look away from Ukraine and return to putting out the eternal flames in the Middle East.”