Ukraine is back in the focus of pro-Kremlin media: disinformation review

 

Hybrid War

Ukraine is back in the focus of pro-Kremlin media, as Maidan protests started seven years ago.

A chapter in the recent study by NATO StratCom COE lists and compares narratives that were pushed by the pro-Kremlin media in 2016 and 2018. One of these narratives, present in both years, is the claim that the idea of the Russian threat is ridiculous.

Fast forward two years and what do we see? The Lithuanian Sputnik announces that NATO and the Baltic states are using the “Russian threat” to justify security agreements with the US and the deployment of NATO troops in their territories. The Sputnik article concludes with a bombshell: “Moscow has said it has no plans to attack any country.”

Hmm, unless this country is Ukraine. Or Georgia. Or…

It is clear that the renewed interest in security and territorial defense of European countries post the 2014 aggression against Ukraine is a concern for the pro-Kremlin media. In such articles, the pro-Kremlin media applies a cocktail of unfounded claims about aggressiveness towards Russia with ridicule and threats of destruction if someone even dares to think about buying something painted in camouflage.

The Godfather, the Sodom and the Russian Threat

The latest example of this comes from the TASS Russian news agency, as a commentary on the Finnish plan to buy multi-role fighters: “Maybe Finns are not aware that all Iskanders [short-range ballistic missile system] at the Leningrad Oblast now most likely look not only at the Baltic countries but also at the Finns.”

Thus, according to pro-Kremlin media, it’s all clear: Russia has no plans to attack anyone, Russia aims its short-range ballistic missiles at its neighbors, but the Russian threat should be discounted.

Or is it clear? 23 out of 69 cases we collected this week focus on Ukraine since the events on the Maidan square began in November 2013 and were later followed by the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia. The anniversary of Maidan, a touchy topic for the Kremlin, also explains why lots of old classic disinformation narratives were dusted off:

  1. There is a civil war in Ukraine
  2. Ukraine lost its sovereignty after Euromaidan
  3. Euromaidan was a coup (armedfascist, and Russophobic!)

There are also some new unfounded claims stating that Ukraine will send people who own Russian passports to concentration camps or even “death camps“.

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However, the aforementioned narratives are outperformed by the claim that in 2014 the Crimean population realized the right to self-determination through a free and peaceful vote in accordance with international standards.

Paraphrasing the ’With a Little Help From My Friends’ by The Beatles “I get self-determination with a little help from my little green friends (in tanks and armored personnel carriers)!”

Now, on a more serious note (kidding!) this week also offered some humorous examples of disinformation. According to pro-Kremlin media, the values of the Council of Europe and the European Union are the values of Satan and that homosexuals having the right to create a family leads to “…catastrophic destruction“ greenlighting Sodom and Gomorrah.

The last example of disinformation comes from the US and concerns Skinny Joey or Joey Merlino, a reputed Philadelphia mob boss. Supposedly he was paid 3 million dollars to forge 300,000 votes for Joe Biden. But as often happens with interesting claims and pro-Kremlin disinformation, there is no evidence to support them.


Further reading:

 

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