EUvsDisinfo, a disinformation watchdog run by the European Union’s foreign service, is reporting that as the diplomatic efforts to stop aggressive escalation along the Ukrainian borders continue, the pro-Kremlin media keeps stoking the tensions with inflammatory and misleading messages. In particular, Russian audiences are being told daily that the West, NATO, and the US are threatening Russia. According to a EuvsDisinfo report:
February 10, 2022 As the diplomatic efforts to stop aggressive escalation along the Ukrainian borders continue, the pro-Kremlin media keeps stoking the tensions with inflammatory and misleading messages. The bulk of these are directed primarily at domestic Russian audiences, which are told on a daily basis that the West, NATO and the US are threatening Russia. Polls by the independent Levada Center show that most Russians (around half of the respondents) blame the US and NATO for the current escalation and only around 4 per cent think it is the responsibility of the Russian leadership. Nearly eight years after the illegal annexation of Crimea and the beginning of the armed aggression in Donbas, the recognition that the Kremlin is in fact threatening Ukraine is a marginal position in Russia. These attitudes are the fruits of labour of Russian state-controlled media, which has been cultivating the myth of an “encircled” Russia for years, fuelling fears (according to Levada, 56 per cent of Russians are afraid of world war) and deliberately misrepresenting the values, history and policies of Ukraine, EU and NATO for millions of Russians.
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The report highlights how Russia uses disinformation for the following purposes during the conflict with Ukraine:
- To distort cause-and-effect relationships in order to obfuscate the Kremlin’s responsibility for the escalation of tensions
- To create space for political and military maneuvering, f.e., the option of direct military aggression over unfound allegations of “imminent atrocities” against the population in Donbas.
- To eliminate and crackdown on independent media outlets.