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Self-proclaimed victory in Geneva, objections against Ukraine in NATO, accusations of militarism. Disinformation monitor #84

  • Manipulations around the meeting of Russian and American presidents
  • Reflections on why Ukraine does not need NATO and/or why it will not be admitted
  • Attempts to explain the weird behavior of the leader of the occupationists in the Crimea
  • New imaginary "oppressions" of Russian-speakers in Ukraine
  • Attempts to present Ukraine as an aggressor
  • Learn how different topics raised by Russian disinformation have evolved over time with our interactive visualization

Period: June 14—20, 2021

Disinfo topics

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

What’s new in disinformation?

The coronavirus returns to the disinformation monitoring. The reason is the growing incidence of coronavirus in Russia and, as a consequence, "Crimean resorts are in danger of disaster due to the pandemic." At the same time, Russian mainstream sites continue to monitor the number of adverse reactions to vaccines in Ukraine.

Shariy's conflict with other pro-Russian figures and politicians is gradually unfolding in the news. First with Portnov, now also with Lukash. Disinformers say Russia has "won" talks with the US president and reminds that it is not a "gas station nation". And Ukraine's attempts to obtain guarantees and a list of concrete steps to join NATO are called fantasies.

"Superpower Russia". Manipulations around the Geneva meeting

The "long-awaited" meeting of the American president with his Russian counterpart in Geneva finally took place this week. Disinformers have been waiting for the meeting for the past few weeks. Their "predictions" were that "weak" Biden "would not be able" to resist Putin and would betray Ukraine's interests. Finally the negotiations happened, the public is not aware of any large-scale results or agreements. The parties agreed to return the ambassadors and held separate press conferences. But in a parallel world of disinformation, "interpretations" of what happened are flourishing.

First of all, Russian leading websites and sites targeting Ukraine spread the Russian position, which for every criticism of Russia seeks counter-accusations against the United States: "endless wars in the Middle East, which led to colossal human casualties and material casualties, the organization of a coup d'etat in Ukraine, the financing of the Russian non-systemic opposition, information wars, attempts to disrupt the construction of Nord Stream 2, an avalanche of unjustified and illegal sanctions". They also hinted that the results of the US presidential election was unreliable because "half the country does not believe in their fairness."

Disinformers accused Biden of "strengthening his geopolitical influence in the Eurasian region" through Ukraine. He was mentioned as a "symbol of the withering of America itself" and wrote that the American president did not want to hold a joint press conference with Putin because he was afraid of him. And Biden's press conference itself was described as "Biden was asked questions only by his own media, he was licked like Leonid Brezhnev, only according to a pre-agreed list."

As for Ukraine, Russian websites wrote that "Biden, apparently, does not intend to further spoil the already difficult relations with Russia because of Ukraine." And they used outright manipulation, changing the content of statements to the opposite, for example, they wrote that "Biden suddenly agreed that in fact Ukraine is sabotaging the long-established way to resolve the Donbas issue." And they immediately quoted Biden's words where there is nothing like it: "We agreed that we need to strengthen diplomacy on the issue of the Minsk agreements."

Finally, misinformers wrote that Russia is a "superpower, not a gas station nation suffering from inferiority complex," and it is ruled by "a strong politician, Vladimir Putin."

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"The land of cutthroats. What Zelensky turned Ukraine into"

Ukrainian clickbaits continue to fuel conspiracy theories and pump up emotion around Zelensky's bills. This time, for example, they wrote as if “all this tragicomedy about the oligarchs is aimed only at one person, whom Zelensky is afraid of with animal fear. This is Poroshenko." Or they just contemplated how Zelensky "apparently decided that he was a hybrid of Tarzan and Mowgli."

And Russian mainstream websites and those targeting Ukraine savoured Zelensky's quote that in the absence of Western support, Ukraine will be forced to become the country with the most powerful army in Europe. Russian sites turned this quote into a confirmation of their thesis that Ukraine is the aggressor, not Russia: "Russian people really do not want war, but some Ukrainian ‘people’ do want it, they want to impose their order on the Donbas by force." And this became an occasion to discredit the Armed Forces once again: “However, Ukraine is already unable to feed its own Armed Forces.”

NATO the “carrot” for Ukraine

One of the leading narratives about international relations is Ukraine's prospects to join NATO. This week, disinformers continue to promote their usual claims that "NATO countries are just no longer ready to defend one another, many are ready to fight with their own neighbors." Indeed, tensions between Turkey and Greece have intensified recently, but this does not mean that there will be a conflict between them, let alone that NATO has stopped being an effective tool.

Disinformers also speculate that the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) will "push Kiev and Tbilisi towards a more provocative policy towards Russia." Because they "will stop being afraid of Russian military might." It will be recalled that no country has attacked the USSR and Russia since World War II. Instead, Russia has been waging war on foreign soil since the early 1990s.

Also, Ukrainian sites targeting Ukrainian issues have habitually accused Ukraine of "corruption" that hinders NATO integration: “neither NATO experts, who are introducing ‘ethical foundations’ in Ukraine, nor the American curators of Ukrainian reforms are able to counteract the deep-rooted habit of Ukrainians to steal money from the state budget, appropriate state property, organize raider seizures, ‘cut among themselves’, ‘grease the groove’, perform all those actions, which are the elements of the corruption process”.

Who was swimming after Aksyonov's boat?

Disinformers were lost in the explanations for a strange video that appeared last week during the flood in Kerch. "The head of Crimea" inspected the flooded city moving on a boat, while three heavily built men in special equipment followed him swimming. The leader of the occupationists praised them and called them rescuers: "Well done, Ministry of Emergency Situations, the crawl was good, they were moving confidently." But later the press service of the Crimean "ministry" denied Aksonov's words. "These were actually civilians who made such a not entirely clear decision in this critical situation. They put on these costumes and came up with nothing smarter than to swim behind Aksyonov's boat," said representatives of the occupationist structure.

Propagandists are triggered by the Ukrainian language again

Russian state media actively promoted the issue of harassment of the Russian language in Ukraine. "Ukrainization is like sophisticated torture. There’s an impression that you are in hell". Exactly this feeling is caused by watching Ukrainian-language series, according to the Russian news agency Regnum. "Ukrainization has pushed the Ukrainian language to the bottom", "Ukraine is joining the ‘elite club of extinctioners’","Protection of the Ukrainian language is tearing Ukraine to small pieces". This is how propagandists describe the consequences of the transition of business to the Ukrainian language as service language.

"Hitlerjugend" in Ukraine

Disinformers have been developing a narrative for many years that "neo-Nazis" have seized power in Ukraine. As examples, they cite a march in honor of the SS division "Galicia" (we wrote about it here) which was condemned by all political forces. Or take the summer camps organized by far right organizations. As in any country, there are some right-wing radicals in Ukraine. But they do not define the political mainstream, they do not have a representation in parliament or any significant support in society. However, Russian propaganda diligently pretends that they are the main political force in the country.

Also this week:

Ukrainian garbage sites continue to idealize Medvedchuk, write about his application to the European Court of Human Rights, quote Shariy and find more and more original ways to convey their position to uncritical readers ("the authorities are obviously uncomfortable about smart people").

On the gas issue, disinformers discussed a strange proposal by pseudo-experts that Ukraine could become a "shareholder" of Nord Stream 2, in compensation for the damage the pipe would provoke. She also called "complete nonsense" the proposal of the head of Naftogaz to demand in European arbitration the right to supply gas from Central Asia via Russia.

Summary

This week, disinformers distorted politicians' words a lot. They used Zelensky's words that without NATO Ukraine would have to build perhaps the largest army in Europe as a confirmation of Ukraine's "aggression." Although it is Ukraine that suffers from the aggression of Russia with its second largest army in the world. Without reliable allies, Ukraine is forced to spend an unprecedented amount of resources on defense. Disinformers also took Joseph Biden's general phrase in Geneva about supporting the Minsk agreements and presented it as "accusations" against Ukraine. Although it is Russia who, directly or through its puppets, blocks any peace initiatives.

The issue of NATO in Ukraine, which frightens Putin so much, has not disappeared. Last time we wrote that American missiles could as easily reach Moscow from the Baltic countries, but they deployed are neither there nor in Ukraine. However, disinformers continue to use the missile argument against rapprochement between Ukraine and the Alliance. At the same time, they are trying to convince their readers that Ukrainians do not support NATO, and that the Alliance itself can no longer protect anyone. We do not tire of recalling that Russia has attacked or intervened in conflicts in almost all post-socialist countries except those that are members of NATO.

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 19290 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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