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Manipulations around The Wall Street Journal's article about a Ukrainian soldier

The Wall Street Journal tells the story of Ukrainian soldier Maksym Poliukhovych, who finds ammunition for Ukrainian units on his own. We explain why the story led to a large number of manipulations and distorted facts in various media.

The Wall Street Journal recently published a long article about Maksym Poliukhovych, Ukraine’s own “Mad Max,” a military man who scours for ammunition to support Ukrainian units. The article primarily focuses on the abandoned shells left behind by retreating russian occupiers in the Kharkiv Region (registration required).

The article underscores the Ukrainian military’s dire shortage of ammunition, noting that the “shell famine” is even more acute now than it was in the summer of 2023. This makes Poliukhovych’s efforts all the more crucial, according to the article.

However, it gets even worse from here. Some media outlets, both domestic and particularly russian ones, have twisted the WSJ’s narrative to suggest that the Ukrainian military is doing nothing but running around in the swamps scavenging for shells.

While it’s true that the Ukrainian army currently faces a significant ammunition shortage, Maksym Poliukhovych’s story is unique. It doesn’t mean commanders are dispatching soldiers to search the swamps for ammunition, as some reports have suggested.

In reality, Poliukhovych has undertaken this task entirely on his own initiative. Assisted by a few helpers, he repairs and refurbishes the ammunition he discovers in a makeshift laboratory.

Unsurprisingly, this narrative has been actively amplified by (pro)russian propagandists. For instance, fugitive Ukrainian blogger Myroslav Oleshko, whose views align with russian propaganda, attributes the ammunition shortage to the change in Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief from Zaluzhnyi to Syrskyi. He cites the same WSJ, even though the article doesn’t say a word about this connection.

The WSJ article states that Poliukhovych sustained injuries in the summer of 2023 and has been searching for shells since. He’s already found over 10,000, making it clear that this effort doesn’t correlate chronologically with the change in command in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Oleshko also claims that Ukrainian soldiers are ordered by their commanders to search for shells. 

However, the WSJ article doesn’t mention any such orders. Poliukhovych himself asserts that he acts entirely of his own volition small logo

фактчекерка на всі крильця
Halyna Dolynna
Halyna Dolynna
editor of the English texts
01 / 01