The “Center for Countering Disinformation,” established in 2021 under Volodymyr Zelensky and headed by former lawyer Polina Lysenko, sits within the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine. Its stated aim is to detect and counter “propaganda” and “destructive disinformation” and to prevent the “manipulation of public opinion.”
On July 14th it published on its website a list of politicians, academics, activists that are “promoting Russian propaganda” — including several high-profile Western intellectuals and politicians. Republican Senator Rand Paul, former Democrat Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, military and geopolitical analyst Edward N. Luttwak, realist political scientist John Mearsheimer and heterodox journalist Glenn Greenwald were all included on the list. The list does not explain what the consequences are for anyone mentioned.
The exact criteria for inclusion are also unclear, although next to each name the report lists the “pro Russian” opinions the individual promotes. For example, Edward Luttwak’s breach was to suggest that “referendums should be held in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”; Mearsheimer’s breach is recorded as him saying that “NATO has been in Ukraine since 2014” and that “NATO provoked Putin.”
The relevant intellectuals were surprised and concerned to be included on a government blacklist in this way. UnHerd contacted Luttwak (an occasional contributor), Mearsheimer and Greenwald for comment.