Ukraine has been constantly present in the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign in the past two years. In the past weeks it has sometimes been overshadowed, by warnings of imminent war by strong accusations against Turkey; by the refugee crisis; and by criticism of Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel. But this week, Ukraine is back as the top issue for those who spread disinformation.
For example, this week we saw a lot of older disinformation repeated about the alleged nazi coup in Ukraine, supported by the USA and the EU. We saw another old favourite return, about Ukraine being part of Russia (and Ukrainians being Russians), in several cases amplified even to state that Ukraine has no right to exist as an independent state and that Russia will always decide what Ukraine’s foreign policy should be (according to Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Russia should also decide the foreign policy of EU Member States Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
At the same time,in the very same outlets and TV shows, you can also hear and see the exact opposite: that Russia has nothing to do with Ukrainian matters; that Vladimir Putin has not been involved in anything that happened in Ukraine over the past two years; and that Russia has nothing to do with the Minsk agreements (as claimed, for example, in Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s speech during Dmitry Kiselyov’s show.
Even the new messages fit into the overall strategic message that Ukraine is an evil state plotting against Russia, or that it is a failed state and only Russia can save it. Thus, our network reported about the story that the Ukrainian secret services are turning young Russians into drug addicts that Kyiv plans to disrupt the Dutch referendum about the EU-Ukraine deal and that 67 people died during demonstrations commemorating the second anniversary of Maidan – in fact recycling a story that’s two years old).
Everybody wants to fight Russia – again
In several cases, the issue of Ukraine was interconnected with another major recent focus of pro-Kremlin disinformation campaigns – the threat of war (nuclear war, World War III, or “just” a war between Russia and NATO / EU / Turkey / etc.). Already last week we reported the disinformation that in the coming days, Ukraine plans to announce a war against Russia. As it did not happen in the meantime, pro-Kremlin outlets recycled the same disinformation. Another outlet claimed that Ukraine is being turned into a body similar to ISIS.
The subject of war is also spreading beyond solely the Russian language media. In recent days, Hungarian and Czech pro-Kremlin outlets repeated the same message that has been present in Russian language media during most of February, in the second case also delivering the popular story that it is always the US which is to blame for any military conflict.
No matter the facts – Russia is helping Syrian people
Following the same pattern as in Ukraine, pro-Kremlin outlets cover Syria by saying that there is no proof of any wrong-doing by the Russian army. Dmitry Kiselyov repeated that no one has yet confirmed the inaccuracy of Russian attacks in Syria, and that thanks to Russia´s intervention, the flow of Syrian refugees is decreasing.
You will see some articles debunking this claim in the table, but one of them deserves highlighting: this Bellingcat-like open source investigation regarding official Russian claims about bombing in Syria, made by Conflict Intelligence Team.
Download the comprehensive PDF here
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