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Report Suggests Russia Losing Its Disinformation Game

March 2nd, 2022 16:30

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