US media is reporting on the changing disinformation tactics Russia has used during the Ukraine war, arguing that President Putin is “losing his own disinformation game”. According to a Time report:
February 25, 2022 As Russian troops closed in on Kyiv and battered the Ukrainian capital with missile strikes on Friday, rumors spread by Russian state media said that President Volodymyr Zelensky had fled the country. That evening, as he has been doing for weeks, Zelensky sought to debunk the Russian disinformation narrative directly. In a defiant video posted on social media, he filmed himself by the Bankova, Ukraine’s equivalent to the White House, flanked by the prime minister and other top officials. “We’re all here. We are in Kyiv. We defend Ukraine,” he said. “Our military are here, our citizens and society are here. We are all here defending our independence, our state, and this is how it’s going to be.” Amid the Russian invasion of their country, the Ukrainian government has treated the information battlefield as a real front line. In Ukrainian, English and Russian, top officials have relentlessly put out their own information on social media, provided regular updates, shot down rumors, and warned of what they say are new false Russian narratives before they can fully take off.
Read the full report here.
The report lists the following disinformation tactics Russia has used days before and amid the Ukraine war, and how most of them have been debunked or countered by Ukrainian, European, or US authorities:
- Planning of a false flag attack to accuse Ukraine of human rights violations, debunked by declassified US intelligence
- Rumors that Ukrainian President Zelensky has fled the country, debunked by a video of Zelensky filming himself in Ukraine’s capital Kiev
- Text messages to Ukrainian civilians claiming that ATMs had stopped working, quickly dispelled by Ukraine’s Cyber Police force
- Pro-Russian propaganda on encrypted messaging apps such as Telegram which has often been amplified by US right-wing channels
- Disinformation on Russian state-backed media outlets, countered by the European Union’s decision to ban these outlets
- Disinformation at the battlefield level aimed at intimidation and demoralizing the Ukrainian military and civilian population, countered by viral videos which have galvanized sympathy and support for Ukraine