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Russian Disinformation Campaign on Ukraine “Detached from Reality, and at Times Cartoonishly Unhinged” EU Watchdog Finds

February 24th, 2022 08:36

EUvs­Dis­in­fo, a dis­in­for­ma­tion watch­dog run by the Euro­pean Union’s for­eign ser­vice, has post­ed a com­pelling sum­ma­ry of the cur­rent pro-Krem­lin dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign in light of the ongo­ing Russ­ian inva­sion of Ukraine. Accord­ing to the EUvs­Dis­in­fo post, the Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion effort “has become ever more detached from real­i­ty, and at times car­toon­ish­ly unhinged:”

Dur­ing the past days, weeks, months, and years, we at EUvs­Dis­in­fo have shared our under­stand­ing of the anato­my of pro-Krem­lin dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns, dis­cussed their tac­tics, and coun­tered the tox­ic nar­ra­tives aimed at deceiv­ing and dis­tract­ing cit­i­zen­ry and deci­sion-mak­ers alike. As the ten­sions of Russia’s mak­ing have now increased to the boil­ing point, we have wit­nessed togeth­er with oth­er mem­bers of the debunk­ing and fact-check­ing com­mu­ni­ty that pro-Krem­lin dis­in­for­ma­tion has become ever more detached from real­i­ty, and at times car­toon­ish­ly unhinged. Recent, sad exam­ples include the Ukrain­ian Armed Forces alleged­ly shelling with sur­gi­cal pre­ci­sion an insignif­i­cant shack near­ly 40 kilo­me­ters away from the line of con­tact, alle­ga­tions that Ukrain­ian troops infil­trat­ed Russ­ian ter­ri­to­ry with equip­ment that they do not possess(opens in a new tab), and claims that the Ukrain­ian army shelled a kinder­garten locat­ed in their own territory(opens in a new tab). One would think that pro-Krem­lin media has stopped alto­geth­er try­ing to con­vince any­one out­side Rus­sia of any­thing. Nev­er­the­less, we must note that even inept fab­ri­ca­tions are insid­i­ous and harm­ful, espe­cial­ly giv­en that the Kremlin’s dis­in­for­ma­tion­ists have been lay­ing the ground­work for events unfold­ing now for a while. Nazis lurk­ing behind every cor­ner, great human­i­tar­i­ans, and loose nuke-talk We exam­ined six months’ worth of Ukraine-relat­ed rhetoric from Russ­ian state media out­lets, pro-Krem­lin out­lets linked to the Russ­ian state, and Russ­ian offi­cial diplo­mat­ic accounts on Twit­ter. We start­ed by cal­cu­lat­ing the vol­ume of men­tions of Ukraine-relat­ed key­words in com­bi­na­tion with key­words rep­re­sent­ing casus bel­li nar­ra­tives, or fab­ri­ca­tions used as pre­texts for invad­ing Ukraine. For exam­ple, pro-Krem­lin out­lets have con­sis­tent­ly por­trayed Ukraine as a ‘Nazi’ state to vil­i­fy Ukraini­ans, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the eyes of domes­tic Russ­ian audi­ences, and thus to jus­ti­fy Krem­lin aggres­sion. We have seen this tac­tic a num­ber of times, includ­ing in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and of course in the past six months, as shown in the dia­gram below. It is exact­ly this fram­ing of Ukraine as a ‘Nazi’ state that has enabled Russ­ian state-con­trolled out­lets and now-sanctioned(opens in a new tab) politi­cians to make grue­some and com­plete­ly fab­ri­cat­ed alle­ga­tions of geno­cide in Don­bas and to spin wild con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about Ukraine using chem­i­cal and oth­er pro­hib­it­ed weapons.

Read the rest here.

In late Jan­u­ary, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed on what UK media described as a pro­pa­gan­da cam­paign push­ing twist­ed his­tor­i­cal facts and the lie that Ukraini­ans and Rus­sians are “one people.”

In recent months, we have exten­sive­ly cov­ered Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion oper­a­tions tar­get­ing Ukraine. We will con­tin­ue to mon­i­tor devel­op­ments as this extra­or­di­nary event unfolds.