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Geneva talks, the uniform of Ukrainian team, Putin’s “red lines”. Disinformation monitor #83

  • Praising Putin’s international advances
  • Outraged by the Ukrainian football uniform including the Crimea and the slogan "Glory to Ukraine - Glory to the Heroes"
  • Describing (non-existent) oppression of Russians in Ukraine by the bill on indigenous peoples
  • Naming Ukrainian soldiers “cutthroats”
  • Calculating how long rockets from Ukraine would fly to Moscow
  • Learn how different topics raised by Russian disinformation have evolved over time with our interactive visualization

Period: June 7—13, 2021

Disinfo topics

% of news related to the topic among all mews from the group of sites

What’s new in disinformation?

Last week, disinformers focused on the football uniform of the Ukrainian national team and the concept of "indigenous peoples", which is supposed to include Russians. All events continued to be described as examples of the Nazi Ukrainian authorities ignoring the will of either the Crimeans or the Russian population of Ukraine. They also cited the "red lines" of Putin who fears "NATO missiles" in Ukraine, which are not there neither in Ukraine nor in those countries of Eastern Europe that are now part of NATO.

Biden "plans to shame himself", Putin’s "political points" are accumulating

This week, disinformers were anticipating the talks between Joseph Biden and Vladimir Putin. They wrote that "Biden is determined to shame himself because of Russia" and diagnosed the American president with "dementia." They also wrote that Western experts on Russia are worried about the meeting because "In each such meeting, they see an existential threat to themselves and are horrified by the terrible word 'reboot'." It will be recalled that every attempt by the United States to "reboot" relations with Russia in recent decades has resulted in Russia violating international obligations and human rights and attacking neighboring states. It is easy to guess that the experts mentioned by the disinformers are critical of Russia and pay attention to its crimes.

Another notable narrative was "Ukraine in this situation may be left without any US support." Disinformers argued the US government's decision on Nord Stream 2 (waiver of sanctions) as lack of support for Ukraine. Disinformers scoffed at Zelensky's request to meet with Biden and tried to portray this as another example of a lack of support: "Volodymyr Zelensky is trying to be invited by his colleague Joe Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin's political points are accumulating." In reality, Biden invited Zelensky to a meeting at the White House in late June 2021, which is unlikely to happen to Putin.

The thesis that Ukraine remains without US support has been sounding for the seventh year in a row since the war started, but Washington’s support has only been growing.

Football uniform "with a wrong map of Ukraine and Nazi slogans"

One of the highlights of last week was the conflict over the uniform of the Ukrainian national football team, which depicts the outlines of Ukraine with Crimea and the slogan "Glory to Ukraine - Glory to the Heroes", which has long troubled disinformers who see it as evidence of Nazism in Ukraine.

Russian websites targeting Ukraine quoted all Russian members of parliament and politicians who decided to comment on this issue. They frightened UEFA that Poland might want to take away Lviv, advised "to remember the contours of the Russian Empire and not to open the Pandora's box", described as "Ukraine neglects the will of the people of Crimea". Then they tried to rejoice in a partial "victory" because of UEFA's decision to hide the phrase "Glory to heroes," as the disinformers themselves explained, because of "a certain political meaning associated with the praise of the Banderite nationalists."

Did they think that UEFA are fools who do not know what this slogan is?

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"Experienced cutthroats" come to the help of Ukrainian army

Last week, Russian propaganda actively disseminated a fake study of the moral and psychological condition of the Ukrainian military. This information appeared in Russian manipulative media that target Ukrainian issues, in some Russian state publications, as well as in disinformation Telegram channels. Moreover, the disinformation media reports that a riot is brewing in the Armed Forces, because the Ministry of Defense seems to have nothing to pay the soldiers. According to the propagandists, the degree of degradation of the Ukrainian army (according to them, it has been going on for seven years) has reached such depths that the Armed Forces are forced to replenish their ranks with "foreign psychopath mercenaries." As always, disinformers contradict themselves: there is no money to pay the military, but for some reason there is money to hire mercenaries.

Imagined "NATO rockets" in Ukraine frighten Putin

Russian websites targeting Ukrainian issues wrote about Ukraine's prospects in NATO. The main thesis for them was the words about the time of missile flights from Ukraine to Moscow. In fact, the missiles would arrive in Moscow in the same time from the Baltic member states of NATO. In reality, there are no American missiles in Eastern Europe that could hit Russia. But even if they were here, it does not give Russia any right to attack or threaten other independent states.

Another area for disinformation was to write about the "inefficiency" or "uselessness of NATO": "NATO is an organization that could not win the war even with the Taliban." Right before NATO, the Taliban was not defeated by the Soviet Union. At the same time, Russia did not attack any country that is a member of NATO, but it did attack Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Disinformers also claim that European states will oppose Ukraine's accession to the alliance, so that "they do not have a formal obligation to protect our independence and territorial integrity."

Occupationists celebrate the Russia Day

In occupied Donetsk, in honor of Russia Day the song "Take us home, Motherland" was presented. “Do not abandon us, oh great, oh glorious! Like Christ, we are being led to the crucifixion. We are being bombed because we are Russians!” so it goes. In addition, Russian manipulative media targeting Ukraine also argued that the issuance of Russian passports in the occupied territories should be accelerated. "…You need to immediately hand out Russian passports from a helicopter to anyone who wants them," they comment.

Gudkov runs "for the bushes, small-Russian ones"

Disinformers did not miss the news about the arrival in Ukraine of Russian opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov (who in 2014 did not support the vote for the accession of Crimea to Russia). Russian sites targeting Ukraine ridiculed the way he "ran away to Ukraine," explained the flight by a reluctance to pay rent arrears (rather than the threat of imprisonment), and ironically predicted almost instantaneous acquisition of Ukrainian citizenship.

He has all the best cards on hand, but he hits the road... The liberal media so yearned for a new liberal "Fuehrer" that they would inevitably promote Gudkov "for free". But he hid in the bushes, the Little Russian ones”.

Zelensky's bills. "No place for Russians in Ukraine''

A particular outburst of indignation among disinformers was caused by the bill on indigenous peoples, which legislates that the indigenous peoples of Ukraine are the Crimean Tatars, Karaites and Krymchaks. The notion of indigenous people implies, among other things, the absence of an ethnically related state entity, but disinformers did not mention this. Instead, they claimed new alleged persecution of Russians in Ukraine.

Russian websites accompanied their texts with manipulative quotes from Putin about inconsistency with international humanitarian law, references to the ideas of Nazi Germany, and that "it is ridiculous and foolish to call Russians the non-indigenous people of Ukraine."

Also this week:

Disinformers continue to contemplate about the economic decline of Ukraine, that "the entire monetary policy of the NBU is built in the interests of foreign financial agents" and for the hundredth time predict, now for the autumn, "an unprecedented crisis, the depth of which can be compared only with the early 90's."

Websites supporting Medvedchuk used several publications in foreign media to write that "the world community condemns President Zelensky's pressure on the opposition." First of all, we are talking about a blog on the American site The National Interest by the author who periodically writes materials from the standpoint of Russian narratives about Ukrainian politics. The sites in favor of Shariн unexpectedly stated that the persecution was not only by the Ukrainian authorities, but also by "lawyer Andriy Portnov."

It was written that Nord Stream 2 was built because the Ukrainian "government cannot competently build a policy to preserve transit," and that Germany instead acts pragmatically and in its own interests.

A separate topic was the "Medvedchuk's files". Disinformers wrote in Telegram that Poroshenko should "report to the public" about his "contacts with Russia." And they called Poroshenko "Petman the ordinary coward."

Summary

During the monitoring period, disinformers continued to discuss the then forthcoming meeting between the Russian and American presidents, thus preparing a favorable ground for it and for the statements after the summit. (The day of the meeting will be included in the next monitoring). They predicted that Biden would "shame himself" and they admired Putin's "successes" in the international arena. Ukraine has been widely criticized for its close relations with the United States and intimidated by its partner's "abandonment."

A related topic was Ukraine's integration into NATO. It seems that Russia is very upset by such prospects, and before the meeting with Biden it intensified its old song. Ukraine's accession to the Alliance was called the "red line" and Russia's interference in Ukrainian politics was explained by the fact that American missiles would reach Moscow faster from Ukraine.

Another topic that attracted a lot of attention was the new Ukrainian football uniform for Euro 2020. Disinformers quoted Russian deputies, frightened with "Poland's plans for Lviv" and accused Ukraine of Nazism.

Limitations of the study:

In this study, we only regarded the topics which are in line with Russian disinformation campaigns. Most of them are based on real events, as disinformation works more effectively this way. Topic names reflect manipulations used in the topic. Accordingly, news stories on Ukrainian mainstream sites on the same topic may have completely different content from that of manipulative materials.

We take the topics of Russian propaganda in Ukraine from the following groups of materials:

In the first and second groups of news, the materials were selected by the AI classifier of manipulative news.

Methodology

We searched for topics in 19629 materials in the Russian language from:

Manipulation in news was singled out by our improved AI classifier developed in the project We’ve got bad news. In the monitoring, we only regarded materials about social and political life which are about Ukraine.

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