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Zelensky’s USA visit, mythical protests, Russia’s appetites. Disinformation monitor #95

  • Zelensky’s US visit “futile”
  • Everyone but Ukraine needs Nord Stream 2
  • Ukraine “will lose” a war against Russia in 6 hours
  • Zelensky failed all tasks, broke promises, and lost the trust of “American masters”
  • Learn how different topics raised by Russian disinformation have evolved over time with our interactive visualization

Period: August 29 — September 5, 2021

Disinfo topics

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

What’s new in disinformation?

Disinformers wrote about Zelensky's White House visit. At first they claimed that the visit would be postponed or it would not take place, then they wrote that Biden was not up to meeting Zelensky, and when that turned out to be not true, they convinced their readers that the visit meant nothing. And in general, Putin's meeting was "cooler." They contemplated how to further isolate the occupied territories from Ukraine by involving them in the elections to the Russian parliament.

On the topic of gas, it was written about unnamed European politicians who "encouraged the inappropriate behavior of Ukraine" to force European countries to move away from gas to other fuels (or their sources). Zelensky was still shown as a loser who is at war with honest media. Read here why at least the last thesis is untrue.

The US visit. "Sleepy Joe" and "joker" Zelensky

The highlight of last week's foreign policy was the visit of the Ukrainian President to the United States and a meeting with Joe Biden. Disinformers did not surprise us and wrote about the visit exactly what was expected of them. The main thesis was: "the Biden-Zelensky meeting cannot bring any breakthrough results." It will be recalled that the meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky is the seventh visit of a foreign leader to the White House during Biden's term. And only the second visit from a European country (the first person was Angela Merkel).

Even before the visit, Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues insisted that the visit be postponed. When it became clear that it would take place, they persuaded their readers that "Biden will not be up to meeting Zelensky" due to the completion of the evacuation of the US troops from Afghanistan. And when the visit did take place and turned out to be rich in events and friendly, they began to say that "the Ukrainian direction for the White House today is not of any serious interest." And they compared that to Biden's meeting with Putin.

Telegram channels wrote “There was no chemistry (between the presidents - Testy.org.ua)” and Biden will not be favorable of Zelensky because "the Burisma case was never dropped by Kyiv + Zelensky's refusal to testify against Trump."

Ukraine "will lose a war against Russia in six hours"

This week, disinformers speculated a lot about Ukrainian-Russian relations. One of the leading topics was the participation of the population of the occupied territories in the elections to the Russian parliament. They expressed hope that "it is difficult to imagine how Ukraine will then regain control of territories with representatives in the parliament of another state." And they also quoted Russian politicians that "Ukraine must cease to exist."

Russian websites targeting Ukraine played on the theme of "war". Disinformers have long shifted responsibility for the conflict to Ukraine and are trying to accuse it of further incitement. They also predicted that Ukraine would not be able to resist Russia in a military confrontation and "would lose a war against Russia in 6 hours."

To declare war and surrender is an ancient dream of a Ukrainian, and the fact of the attitude towards "captivity" is obvious. Ze's public statement at a meeting with the US business is an indirect indication of the price of Ukraine's voluntary surrender”.

In addition, disinformers seem to be disappointed in their own mantra, "Europe must put pressure on Ukraine to demand concessions in the East," they write: “Nobody, no matter how much Moscow wants it, will put pressure on Kyiv in order to force it to comply with the Minsk agreements.”

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The threats of Nord Stream 2

On the topic of gas transit, disinformers are promoting several theses. Disappointment with the United States as an ally: "After the coup d'etat in Ukraine in 2014, the United States did nothing to help Ukraine regain Crimea, which joined Russia." And the constant reminders that all states (especially the United States and Germany) pursue policies solely to protect their own interests. Therefore, no one will stop Nord Stream 2 and it will allow Russia to dominate the European energy market and put pressure on Ukraine.

On the other hand, they write that opponents of Nord Stream 2 in Europe "encouraged Ukraine's inappropriate behavior" in order to "force European industry to refocus on other energy sources."

Leading Russian sites tried to be witty and wrote: "How can a gas pipeline that does not run through Ukraine, let alone the American continent, threaten them, beggars (or blackmailers?)." Read about the threat posed by Nord Stream here.

Zelensky the "liar" and "loser"

In the topic dedicated to the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, disinformers discussed a lot about his alleged "desire to control" the media, listed Zelensky's failures and looked for his "heirs". As for the media, they wrote about the NASH channel and why sanctions have not yet been imposed on it (despite the dubious origin of investments and the pro-Russian position): “the owners of NASH have not yet been classified as dangerous for the future political career of Zelensky and the "servants"”. "Dangerous", from the point of view of propagandists, are the "Opposition platform - For life" and "Shariy party".

Regarding Zelensky's failures, he is most mentioned in the field of international relations:

Zelensky spoiled Kiev's traditionally good relations with Minsk. The Hungarians and Romanians who have always supported Ukraine turned away from him. Little Moldova and big Poland, although they maintain some kind of official relations (here a complete break is difficult for historical and geopolitical reasons), but communicate with Zelensky very coldly, finding no common ground. Even the Balts have recently stopped saying pleasant things to Zelensky. The President of Estonia even came up with a position close to the Russian expert community, but harshly condemned in Ukraine. They won't accept Kyiv in NATO, the EU either, and you shouldn't invest money in the Ukrainian economy, because you will lose, etc.”

As for the "heirs", the speaker of the Rada Razumkov is most often mentioned (since Arsen Avakov has temporarily dropped out of the focus of disinformers). It is noteworthy that they do not say that Zelensky became unpopular among the population (this is an obvious lie, he is the leader in the polls). Instead, they write about "Americans (as masters of the independent one)": "Razumkov will suit them quite well." And, accordingly, he will receive the support of Washington."

Zelensky is also habutually called a liar: “Zelensky's example is a vivid illustration of how a simple guy can come to power through fraud and intrigue. However, he did not fulfill any of his promises, with which he charmed voters before the elections and even immediately after them.

In pro-Russian Telegram channels they also wrote: “At the same time, after Joe Biden's victory, the US - EU (Germany/France) - Russia economic coalition is being formed, with Russia trying to win it over to its own side. It is not excluded that the toughest option is a new Maidan (the technologies of overthrowing the government have been perfectly worked out by the Americans). Now the question of keeping Zelensky in the presidency and re-election for a second term is open”. Disinformers have been recently pumping up the narrative of "protests" that are supposed to begin in the fall (spoiler: they prophesied "autumn protests" almost every previous year).

The unbearable pain of good economic news from Ukraine

Ukraine's gold and foreign exchange reserves have reached record levels compared to the past 9 years. This was due to the recent "anti-coronavirus" tranche of the IMF worth $ 2.7 billion. This is not a loan as usual, but aid which does not need to be repaid. Read details here. According to all forecasts, the Ukrainian and world economies will gradually recover after difficult pandemic times. This is facilitated by the deployment of vaccination programs, high prices for Ukrainian raw export materials and a lot of free money in foreign markets. But in the parallel reality of Russian disinformation, Ukraine, as always, is in for chaos and impoverishment. It is useless to look for optimism and positive news in this world. Instead, the information field was flooded with reports of "huge debts" of Ukraine, which it "has nothing to serve with."

Also, disinformers sharply disapproved of the news about the memorandum between "Energoatom" and the American Westinghouse Electric, which provides for the construction of five new power units at Ukrainian nuclear power plants. Nuclear energy is a strategic and high-tech sector of the Ukrainian economy that, until recently, was virtually dependent on Russia. Since 2014, Ukraine has been gradually getting rid of this dependence. That is why any positive news in this area causes a flurry of indignation and manipulation from disinformers. The memorandum was called "nuclear adventurism", and the Ukrainian authorities were accused of unwillingness to develop domestic technologies. "Well-known publicists" did not delay with a detailed analysis of the memorandum: “for the construction of new power units, announced by Zelensky, Ukrainian consumers of electricity will be stripped - the population, the industry. They will not have time to build anything on time. In five years, Ukraine will face a serious power shortage”.

Medvedchuk is supported even in Nigeria

Pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk has had his house arrest extended for another two months. He is suspected of high treason. In response, Ukrainian manipulative media that reprinted Russian disinformation, as well as Russian online media, decided to saturate the information sphere with as many quotes from Medvedchuk and his criticism of the Ukrainian government as possible. The suspect was once again portrayed as the most "systemic politician" or a fighter against authoritarianism and foreign rule.

"Zelensky is faced with the task of completely crushing the judiciary, making the judicial power his puppet", "Ukraine has completely passed under the external governance of the United States." This is how disinformation media quoted Medvedchuk.

Interestingly, the disinformers also tried to create an illusion of international support for Medvedchuk. They cited little-known foreign media from the US, EU, and even Nigeria: "American media: the Ukrainian authorities have accused Viktor Medvedchuk because of his ties with Russia'', "Tellerreport: World Bank confirms Medvedchuk's data thatUkraine's economy is in deep crisis", "Viral Nigeria: In Ukraine, the president has made Viktor Medvedchuk his target. "

Parallels between Ukraine and Afghanistan

Last week, Russian manipulative and state-run media often featured lame attempts to draw parallels between the Russian-Ukrainian war and the conflict in Afghanistan. Disinformers tried to formulate "Afghan lessons" for Ukraine and intimidated it with a wave of refugees: "Ukrainian social networks have already reported on the first conflicts with refugees in Odesa, which should become the main hub of Afghan migration."

Summary

This week, disinformers wrote about Zelensky's visit to Biden. They tried in every way to downplay the significance of this visit, with the same arguments they used against the Crimean Platform summit. However, this is the second visit of a European leader during Biden's presidency and it took place at the highest level.

Further, propagandists habitually accuse Ukraine of inciting war and "Russophobia", while speculating that Ukraine should be "destroyed." And they also fantasize about how many hours the Russian army will need to do it. We remind you that the Russian army and its mercenaries have been trying to destroy Ukraine for almost 10 years.

They also write about the "liar" Zelensky who lost the trust of “the Americans", and disinformers once again predict protests and a "heir". As for Nord Stream 2, disinformers are not even trying to hide the fact that Russia will use the gas pipe to put pressure on Ukraine.

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 18147 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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