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RussiaJuly 28 2022, 15:43 pm

Russia’s Narratives about Invasion of Ukraine Lingering in Africa, Report Says

The Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion, a US think tank, is report­ing that Rus­si­a’s nar­ra­tives about its inva­sion of Ukraine are lin­ger­ing in Africa. The report says that Rus­si­a’s objec­tives are not only to jus­ti­fy its inva­sion of Ukraine but to sway African coun­tries to sup­port Rus­si­a’s actions and secure Rus­si­a’s influ­ence over the region. Accord­ing to the Brook­ings report:

June 27, 2022 The infor­ma­tion spaces in Africa and oth­er regions of the Glob­al South like India and Chi­na have been heav­i­ly tar­get­ed by Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion and pro­pa­gan­da cam­paigns in recent months and years. In the case of Africa at this moment, Rus­si­a’s objec­tives are not only to jus­ti­fy its inva­sion of Ukraine, but to sway African coun­tries to sup­port Rus­si­a’s actions and secure Rus­si­a’s influ­ence over the region, espe­cial­ly as the coun­try becomes increas­ing­ly iso­lat­ed from the Unit­ed States and Europe. […] Sen­ti­ments in Africa con­cern­ing the cri­sis vary dra­mat­i­cal­ly in the tweets. While many Africans stood (and con­tin­ue to stand) in sol­i­dar­i­ty with Ukraine, a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the rel­e­vant dis­cus­sions trend­ing online ini­tial­ly focused on African stu­dents flee­ing Ukraine and the racism they faced.    In the first two weeks of the war (through March 9), the most-tweet­ed Russ­ian nar­ra­tive (over 178,000 tweets) con­cern­ing the war claim that all Ukraini­ans and Europeans—but not Russians—are racist. […] Over 105,000 tweets employ “whataboutism,” where users avert the con­ver­sa­tion to oth­er top­ics, dis­re­gard the cri­sis, reject crit­i­cism of Rus­si­a’s actions and polit­i­cal influ­ence, or pro­claim hypocrisy.

Read the full report here.

The report notes that state-affil­i­at­ed Rus­sia Today (RT) was among the most retweet­ed plat­forms for tweets with ‘whataboutism” and anti-West rhetoric and that Russ­ian gov­ern­ment accounts also play promi­nent roles in these dis­cus­sions. The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report has exten­sive­ly report­ed on Rus­si­a’s use of its embassies and con­sulates world­wide to spread dis­in­for­ma­tion about the Ukraine war on social media chan­nels. We have also report­ed that Rus­si­a’s mod­el of dis­in­for­ma­tion to gain polit­i­cal influ­ence in Africa is being repli­cat­ed by oth­er actors across the con­ti­nent and that Russ­ian social media influ­ence oper­a­tions are high­ly suc­cess­ful in many parts of the Glob­al South where antipa­thy for the West is deep and sym­pa­thy for Rus­sia real.

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