The Atlantic Council’s DFRLab is reporting that pro-Kremlin media outlets are using the tense situation at the Russian-Ukrainian border to spread narratives targeting the annual NATO exercises along with Ukraine. According to the DFRLab report:
May 18, 2021 Amid the tense situation at the Russian-Ukrainian border, pro-Kremlin media spread stories claiming that Defender Europe 21, an annual NATO military exercise, will serve as a pretext for NATO troop deployment near Crimea. According to these various stories and social media posts, Defender Europe 21 will be used as an excuse to amass NATO troops on the border with Crimea and afford NATO allies the opportunity to practice with Ukraine for a war with Russia. To send this message, three overarching sub-narratives were used. One claimed that Kyiv and NATO are preparing to take back Crimea; a second claimed that the Kremlin is extending its warning signs not to “wake up the Russian bear”; and a third called Ukraine a free training ground for NATO troops. These narratives serve as an effective tool for domestic fearmongering targeting two of Russia’s main enemies simultaneously — Ukraine and NATO.
Read the rest here.
In April, we reported that Russia’s build-up of military forces along the Ukrainian border was accompanied by the expected and intensified disinformation efforts.
For more GIOR reporting on Russia’s disinformation efforts, go here.