Report: US funds Ukrainian outlets that censor dissenting American voices

A “sprawling constellation” of supposedly independent organizations and fact-checkers bankrolled by Washington has been behind labeling Americans who disagree with Kiev Russian propagandists, according to an investigation published on Thursday.

Journalist Lee Fang and RealClearInvestigations have looked into outfits such as New Voice of Ukraine, VoxUkraine, Detector Media and others, that in many cases they “promoted aggressive messages that stray from traditional journalistic practices” to support the Ukrainian government and “delegitimize its critics,” both at home and abroad.

Americans they have gone after range from economist Jeffrey Sachs and University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer to journalists Tucker Carlson and Glenn Greenwald. Some of these outfits have also denounced a factually correct New York Times article about the battle of Avdeevka as a “Russian psyop” and “disinformation.”

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) have funded scores of Ukrainian organizations. Some of them act as fact-checking partners for Meta’s Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp platforms, helping Ukraine critics under the guise of fighting “Russian disinformation.” 

The London-based Zinc Network has been paid by USAID to “undermine Kremlin information operations” and help Ukraine with its own “strategic communications.”

According to another investigative journalist, , Zinc’s Open Information Partnership in Ukraine has defined disinformation as “verifiable information which is unbalanced or skewed, amplifies, or exaggerates certain elements for effect, or uses emotive or inflammatory language to achieve effects which fit within existing Kremlin narratives, aims, or activities.”

Asked about the “anti-disinformation” groups in Ukraine targeting Americans, the State Department told Fang and RealClear that it “provides funding to credible independent media organizations to strengthen democracies in the countries we work in around the world.”

“We do not control the editorial content of these organizations,” the State Department insisted. According to documents Fang has reviewed, however, the US government and its contractors have “directly set the agenda” for Ukrainian outlets.

The US is “an active participant” in the information war between Russia and Ukraine, George Beebe, a director with the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, told Fang. “The US government has been trying to shape perceptions, and it’s very difficult to separate what’s intended for foreign audiences from what seeps into the Anglosphere media,” he added.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has accused Russia of influencing US lawmakers and society at large. While he has offered little evidence for his claims, Fang’s investigation has revealed that much of the content generated by US-funded Ukrainian outlets “explicitly targets American foreign policy discourse.”