The Kremlin and its agents are peddling false arguments to amplify the case for war in Ukraine.

Tempting as it might be for Vladimir Putin, he cannot simply kick off a new phase of his war in and against Ukraine without first laying the groundwork of reasoning for his aggression.

The top five (false) narratives from Russia that are most common at present, being pumped out by Russian state TV for a domestic audience and being parroted by the Kremlin’s apologists globally, are as follows.

1. The language issue in Ukraine

The purpose of this strain of disinformation is to present Ukraine as divided, contrasting the Russian-speaking east with the Ukrainian-speaking west. There is a nugget of truth here —that Ukrainians do speak different languages, and predominantly (though not entirely) it is along regional lines. The leap that the propagandists want to take from this though is that a large part of the country (the east, where there is war and where war may soon be expanded) is disaffected by the official state policy on language.

The reality is that Ukrainians are united by an indifference to language choice. Ukraine isn’t divided by the language issue. Almost everyone here is fully fluent in and comfortable with either language. It is notable that some newly arrived correspondents from the West report with some surprise that Russian-speaking cities want nothing to do with Putin’s imperial plans.

2. Ukraine has plans to re-take the Donbas by military force

This myth is entirely fabricated in Russia. It is highly plausible that Russia plans to stage a provocation as justification for sending more troops across the border, in order to ostensibly protect its newly minted citizens local to the Donbas, who have taken Russian passports in the last three years. The notion that Ukraine has military designs can be disproved by credible and independent parties.

Since the outbreak of war the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has had a team of international observers (including 25 Russian citizens) mandated to report everything they see on the ground in Eastern Ukraine. If Ukraine was moving equipment or manpower into place to retake the Donbas by military force, the OSCE SMM would be immediately aware of and report this. There were no reported attempts to hinder the mission’s work on the Ukrainian side of the line and no indication of a military build-up.)

3. Russia is under threat!

President Putin likes to portray himself, equally, as a man of great strength and as a victim. If you run one of the most sophisticated propaganda campaigns ever seen, those diametrically opposed notions can coexist and be accepted by some with little discernable cognitive dissonance.

The only threat that points in Russia’s direction is the threat to the Putin regime from ideas such as democracy and rooting out corruption. But, just to placate the doubters, consider what military action against Russia might look like. We know that Ukrainians have signed up to fight in territorial defense regiments in the face of the rising drumbeat of war, but they hardly amount to a shock force capable of seizing and holding Russian territory. Elsewhere, the supposed threat from NATO states bordering Russia amounts to far fewer than the 130,000 Russian personnel now deployed.

4. Ukraine is populated by nazi sympathizers and fascists.

That reason is because it is easier to kill another person after they have been dehumanized. Wars require soldiers to kill the enemy, an act made much easier if the enemy is a fascist or a nazi preparing to commit atrocities.

5. Ukraine refuses to abide by the Minsk peace agreement.

This topic has been covered in more detail previously, but it would be remiss not to include it in this list of current propaganda narratives, as it is again being pushed by Russia as justifying its bellicose behavior.

The facts are as follows. There is disagreement between the sides on how Minsk should be implemented. The timing and conditions for the local elections envisaged in the agreement are one such dispute. What we have seen from Russia is repeated bad faith when it comes to the stated aim of Minsk — the return to Ukrainian government control of the territories up to the international border. Rather than work towards that aim, Russia frustrates it. That has allowed the Kremlin to deepen its hold on the territories it invaded nearly eight years ago.

It is perhaps worth reflecting in the six years and 361 days since Russia agreed as part of Minsk to stop its armed aggression, it has refused to do so.