Putin is the “heir of Genghis Khan” and he decides the fate of Ukraine. Disinformation monitor #114
- Operation “invasion” again and again
- Russia talks of “recognizing” its own puppets
- Conspiracy theories about the pressure of “the West” on Ukraine
- “Kabul syndrome” of embassy employees
- Learn how topics of disinformation have changed over the past year with our interactive visualization
Period: January 24 — 30, 2022
What’s new in disinformation?
In recent months, the number of articles mentioning the "invasion" is significantly higher than last spring, when Russia first began to gather additional troops on the border with Ukraine. Russia's disinformation machine is spreading Putin's claims that Ukraine has been occupied by NATO and that the United States is "provoking" Russia to war. Putin himself is called "Genghis Khan's heir" and his role in the international system is exaggerated. The tone of the way Russian sites write about Putin is very similar to Medvedchuk's PR by some Ukrainian trashy websites.
Disinformers also argue that the United States is pressuring Ukraine to enforce the Minsk Protocols in their Russian interpretation. At the same time, they write that employees of the embassies of the United States, Great Britain, and some other countries are leaving Ukraine to avoid the "Afghan scenario".
Operation “invasion” goes on
Since the beginning of November, news items featuring the word "invasion" have been on the agenda first on Russian and then on Ukrainian sites. We see, in one issue of the monitoring after another, that the topic of a possible invasion of Russian troops remains in the focus of media attention.
Below are the search results for the word "invasion" on the dashboard Hot disinfo from Russia for Russian sites targeting Ukraine (purple) and major Ukrainian sites (black). The bar height shows % of the topic among all the news of the day in a group of sites
Let's try to systematize the flow of disinformation and propaganda about Russian troops on the border with Ukraine. Let's look at the main Russian narratives with quotes found in texts over the past week.
NATO wants the war with Russia
In this section, we describe narratives that have been broadcast since the end of 2021. NATO is pumping weapons into Ukraine, bringing in its military instructors and, in fact, already occupying Ukraine. It is NATO / West / US that is waging war, and Russia is simply forced to defend itself. All this must eventually lead to the suicide of NATO and the United States, because, according to disinformation, it will not be possible for the West to win this war. And because of the US refusal to recognize Russia's "red lines" on the non-aligned status of post-Soviet countries, the war is inevitable. All this makes up the vast majority of quotes from Russian politicians and the media about the situation on Ukraine's borders.
And here are some fresh quotes which we found last week. The conflict in Russian worldview is not limited to Ukraine, as "the Baltic territory is already teeming with NATO troops." Which really worries the Russian media. They write about NATO as follows: “they are now planning a large-scale provocation in Ukraine. If we answer, and we promised to answer, then we can be attacked from different directions, including from the Baltic states, while all our forces will be tied up in Ukraine”.
“I don't understand, what is Putin waiting for? Until they amass their troops? What shall we do then? Wait for Ukraine's attack on the Donbas, when they will have already deployed all their forces and we will have a lack of forces? We must be the first to attack Ukraine. Stalin waited and waited till June 22, 1941 and he waited until we had to retreat all the way to Moscow”.
Texts about NATO's cunning plans are intertwined with the topic of the abstract West's hatred of Russia: “Atlantist Russophobia has become an indispensable way of existence for the US and NATO, and the West only increases tension”. Disinformers argue that the West's goal is to "dismember Russians, re-code some of them," and anti-Russian narratives and "intensification of the alleged Russian threat" are a way for the world's elite to distract people of Earth from the pandemic and the "voluntary but compulsory" vaccination.
Putin decides the fate of Ukraine and revives NATO
It is surprising that in Russian texts the phrase "world elite" even appears, meaning any elite which does not include Putin himself. After all, the President of the Russian Federation has a special place and role in the flow of disinformation. In addition to appearing in the Russian news as "Genghis Khan's heir", he personally decides the fate of Ukraine and the fate of the entire post-Soviet space, and, according to the perverted logic of disinformation, he also "revives NATO":
“It turns out that Putin - yes, Putin, because the West has no doubt that he is to blame for everything - simultaneously strengthened NATO, united Europeans, and helped the United States rise”.
“The West is de facto grateful to the President of the Russian Federation for the situation around Ukraine. The Ukrainian crisis could simultaneously play into the hands of the European Union, the NATO alliance and strengthen the role of Washington in international politics”
The eternal chaos in Ukraine is getting more intense
When Russian disinformers do not write about Russia or the vile West, they rush to describe the chaos in Ukraine. In addition to the usual role of puppet, which they assign to our state, there are accusations of political naivety, short-sightedness and the Ukrainian elite taking advantage by instilling fear of the Russian threat. In addition, disinformers shake off the dust from Ukrainophobic stamps about "Soroslings", "ATOshniks" and "supporters of Maidans" and use their old theses about the split of Ukraine into the pro-Russian East and the pro-European West.
“ATOshniks are afraid of responsibility for the war crimes they committed. Politicians are afraid of the fate of Ceausescu. The Soroslings are afraid that all the plane tickets will be sold out, and they will have to cling to the landing gear, like their colleagues did in Afghanistan. Well, and the supporters of all the Maidans are trembling for their skins, their new houses, their lucrative positions and other "bonuses" received as a result of participating in coups”
What do Ukrainian trashy websites write about it all?
Ukrainian manipulative media generally take a more or less adequate pro-Ukrainian stance, using this topic rather for clickbaits and manipulations, not for spreading Russian disinformation. For example, some of them rushed to characterize Putin as a difficult teenager with an atomic bomb and call him a "pubertal imbecile."
However, there are exceptions. First of all, we are talking about Medvedchuk's pool of trashy websites, which, on the one hand, continue to spread the usual theses about Ukraine as a pawn in geopolitical games and how NATO "progress in coming into ownership of the territory of Ukraine". On the other hand, they fully re-transmit Russia's position on the need to protect its borders and its citizens, and that it is not Russia that wants an invasion, and that "the war hysteria, which the West is ‘warming up’ in Ukraine, is needed for domestic American cuisine, to justify the position of President Biden, who is negotiating with Vladimir Putin”.
And they also just disseminate anti-Ukrainian texts that discredit not only the current government, but also the Ukrainians as a nation: “No invasion is even needed. A couple of months of shouting ‘the enemy is at the gates’ is enough for unprecedented chaos to begin in Ukraine. Plaintive calls to ‘unite around the president’ will not help”.
Kyiv prepares for provocations in the Donbas
Russian websites targeting Ukrainian issues have diluted the constant fakes about the shelling by the Armed Forces of the residents of the occupied territories with new emergency statements that "the Armed Forces are preparing for aggression against the Donbas" and that "neo-Nazis are mobilizing in Ukraine." In this way, they once again supported the Russian narrative of the war that Ukraine and NATO allegedly want to start.
“Kyiv, tired of waiting for the notorious ‘invasion’, deliberately aggravates the situation in the Donbas”
“Actually, the drug addict President Zelensky does not hide this: he publicly stated that ‘it is time to move on to offensive actions in order to defend our national interests, in order to return our territories”. Zelensky really said this when speaking to Ukrainian intelligence officers, and he meant active intelligence operations.
Russia talks of recognizing and arming the occupied territories of the Donbas
Another "logical" response to Russia's narrative of NATO wanting war is the need to officially recognize the so-called L/DPR and (now officially and openly) supply weapons there. And all the arguments of Russian politicians are reduced to the already classic propaganda theses: “the number of shellings in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions has increased many times over, civilians are dying, and at this time, Western curators are pushing the Ukrainian junta to directly invade the Donbas, arming the nationalist battalions, for whom the heroes are Bandera and Hitler, and the swastika is their respected sign”. It will be recalled that criminal liability for the use of both communist and Nazi symbols has been introduced in Ukraine.
Embassy employees are leaving Ukraine because of “Kabul syndrome”
The embassies of the United States, Great Britain, and Australia in Ukraine have invited their staff to leave the country due to the possible threat of Russian invasion. Russian manipulative media and Ukrainian trashy websites that distribute Russian disinformation were happy to scoff and rejoice at these reports. They called the embassies' statements "the stunt of Anglo-Saxon ears" [derogative wordplay in Russian - TEXTY.org.ua] and intimidated their readers by drawing parallels with last year's evacuation of Western diplomats from Kabul. “The Americans set the right example: it is better to do this earlier, while there are no traffic jams on the roads and without waiting for the Afghan scenario. One needs a special instinct for this.”
Instead, pseudo-experts explained the statements of several Western embassies by conspiracy theories: “The US and its allies are increasing pressure on the Ukrainian leadership … perhaps as part of a behind-the-scenes bargaining regarding the future implementation of the Minsk agreements”
Collaborator of occupationists Konstantinov intimidates Crimean people and threatens the Netherlands
Crimean collaborationist and the chairman of the occupationist State Council of Crimea Vladimir Konstantinov made a number of high-profile manipulative and propaganda statements. “The Amsterdam judges would do well to remember the words of Bismarck about how to deal with the Russians and that they (that is, we) will always come for their own. We have different ways to restore justice. It would be good if the Amsterdammers did not forget about it”, he said commenting on the court case in the Netherlands around the exhibition of the "Scythian Gold". It will be recalled that in October 2021, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal granted Ukraine's request and decided that the collection of archeological treasures belongs to Ukraine and thus should be returned to the Ukrainian state, not the occupationist authorities of occupied Crimea.
Also, Konstantinov decided to play on threatening the Crimean people and reminded them that NATO and Ukraine are trying to ignite a new war in Europe. "The Ukrainian military is moving in the near approaches to the Crimea," he said during a regular meeting of the occupationist "parliament."
Western “fake rumors” are ruining Ukrainian economy
Fresh notes appeared in the old and boring melody of "impoverishment". Russian disinformers have decided to accuse the West of another "collapse" of the Ukrainian economy, as it is Western media that are spreading "rumors about the upcoming Russian invasion of Ukraine". Disinformers published fake photos of empty supermarket shelves in Ukraine and accused Western countries of forcing Ukrainians to "sweep even salt and matches off supermarket shelves."
Of course, there had to be a bit of a conspiracy theory: “this hysteria is deployed specifically so that the ‘Western partners’ can take full control and/or cheaply take over the remnants of Ukraine… the weaker Ukraine is economically… the easier it can be manipulated by the West, which would use it for its own purposes in confrontation with Moscow, and even pumping out the remaining resources from Ukraine for cheap… The joke that the West is ready to fight Putin until the last Ukrainian is, in fact, not a joke. This is the scenario that is being implemented here and now.”
An interesting observation:
Coronavirus, along with the spread of the Omicron strain in Ukraine, is receiving increasing attention from the mainstream and regional Ukrainian media. However, this remains almost unnoticed by Russian trashy websites, which only publish statistics on the incidence or, under the characteristic headlines, inform about the disease among members of the Ukrainian parliament: “Coronavirus sweeps down Zelensky's faction in the Rada”.
In recent weeks, the number of articles on the "invasion" has been growing sharply. Various theses are used to increase the tension and the anticipation of this invasion. In general, the consumer of this wave of information about the invasion may have the impression that it is inevitable. This is supported by the constant amassment of troops at the border with Ukraine. The goal may be to demoralize Ukrainians before a real offensive begins, or to sow panic that will cause significant economic damage to 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:
- manipulative news from the Russian online publications which write on Ukrainian topics, for the population of the occupied territories
- manipulative news from those Ukrainian sites where a significant amount of manipulative news has been spotted. This second category is targeted at Ukrainian audiences and publishes a lot of manipulative news of different ideological orientation
- all news from mainstream Ukrainian publications
- all materials from local Ukrainian news sites
- all materials from mainstream Russian news sites
- posts in Telegram channels popular in Ukraine
In the first and second groups of news, the materials were selected by the AI classifier of manipulative news.
We searched for topics in 15724 materials in the Russian language from:
- 72 Russian sites (manipulative materials only) targeting Ukrainian topics: 3652.ru, 3654.ru, 8692.ru, anna-news.info, antifashist.com, antimaydan.info, c-inform.info, comitet.su, crisis.in.ua, delovoydonbass.ru, dnr-lnr.info, dnr-pravda.ru, dnr24.com, dnr24.su, donbasstoday.ru, doneck-news.com, dontimes.news, dontimes.ru, dosie.su, e-gorlovka.com.ua, e-news.su, evening-crimea.com, free-news.su, fresh.org.ua, fromdonetsk.net, front-novorossii.ru, gorlovka.today, jankoy.org.ua, kafanews.com, komtv.org, kv-journal.su, lgt.su, luga1news.ru, lugansk1.info, meridian.in.ua, metayogg.com, miaistok.su, mir-lug.info, mnyug.com, mozaika.dn.ua, nahnews.org, naspravdi.info, nefakt.info, newc.info, news-front.info, newsland.com, nk.org.ua, novorosinform.org, novorossiy.info, novosti.icu, odnarodyna.org, on-line.lg.ua, patriot-donetsk.ru, pohnews.org, politnavigator.net, politobzor.net, pravdanews.info, ruinformer.com, rusdnepr.ru, rusnext.ru, russian-vesna.ru, rusvesna.su, sevastopol.su, sevnews.info, sobytiya.info, svodki24.ru, time-news.net, ukraina.ru, voenkor.info, voskhodinfo.su, vsednr.ru, xvesti.ru
- 105 Ukrainian online media where over 10% of all news about Ukraine have been spotted as being manipulative (manipulative materials only): 0432.in, 112.ua, agrimpasa.com, aif.ua, akcenty.com.ua, antikor.com.ua, argumentua.com, baza-pravda.in.ua, bbcccnn.com.ua, begemot.media, bessarabiainform.com, censoru.net, dialog.ua, donetskie.com, elise.com.ua, expres.life, figurant.com.ua, finoboz.net, for-ua.life, fraza.ua, from-ua.com, glavcom.life, glavk.info, glavred.info, glavred.life, golos.ua, hpib.life, hyser.com.ua, inforesist.org, inform-ua.info, informator.news, intell.in.ua, ivasi.news, jizn.info, job-sbu.org, k-stenke.com, khersonline.net, kompromat1.info, kompromat1.news, kordon.org.ua, korr.com.ua, kyiv.press, lifedon.com.ua, mignews.com.ua, monitor-ua.com, newnews.in.ua, news247.com.ua, news24ua.com, newser.com.ua, newsmir.info, newsua.one, nezalezhna.com, onpress.info, ord-02.com, ostrovok.lg.ua, p-zona.com, podrobnosti.ua, politdengi.com.ua, politeka.net, politica.com.ua, pravda.rv.ua, prioritet.org, proua.com.ua, provokators.top, prportal.com.ua, replyua.net, rezzonans.in.ua, rnbee.com.ua, rupor.info, rupor.od.ua, rusjev.net, sharij.net, skelet-info.org, spektrnews.in.ua, spichka.news, spzh.news, startko.co.ua, strana.ua, t.ks.ua, tema.in.ua, timer-odessa.net, tp0432.in.ua, tribunanaroda.info, ua-reporter.com, ua-vestnik.com, ua24ua.net, ukr.life, ukraine-zmi.info, ukrainianwall.com, ukranews.com, ukranews.life, ukrpost.biz, ukrrudprom.ua, vesti-ukr.com, vesti.ua, vkulake.com, vlasti.net, voi.com.ua, vremya.com.ua, vybor.ua, vz.ua, xn--j1aidcn.org, zhitomir-online.com, zik.ua, znaj.ua
- 17 major Ukrainian online media (all materials): 24tv.ua, bykvu.com, censor.net.ua, fakty.com.ua, fakty.ua, gordonua.com, interfax.com.ua, lb.ua, liga.net, nv.ua, pravda.com.ua, rbc.ua, segodnya.ua, tsn.ua, ukrinform.ru, unian.net, zn.ua
- 16 major Russian media (all materials): aif.ru, dni.ru, kommersant.ru, kp.ru, lenta.ru, lentainform.com, life.ru, newsru.com, pravda.ru, regnum.ru, riafan.ru, russian.rt.com, slovodel.com, svpressa.ru, tass.ru, vz.ru
- 175 Ukrainian local media (all materials): 0432.ua, 048.ua, 04849.com.ua, 04868.com.ua, 0512.com.ua, 056.ua, 0564.ua, 057.ua, 061.ua, 06153.com.ua, 0619.com.ua, 06239.com.ua, 06274.com.ua, 06277.com.ua, 0629.com.ua, 0642.ua, 1kr.ua, 1news.zp.ua, 44.ua, 5632.com.ua, 5692.com.ua, 62.ua, 6264.com.ua, 7kanal.com.ua, actual.today, allkharkov.ua, atn.kharkov.ua, barometr.info, beg.dp.ua, bessarabiainform.com, city.sumy.ua, cxid.info, dancor.sumy.ua, dani-info.com, dnepr.com, dneprcity.net, dneprnews.com.ua, dneprnews.info, dnews.dn.ua, dnl.com.ua, dnl.dn.ua, dnpr.com.ua, donbass.ua, donetskie.com, dontimes.news, dozor.kharkov.ua, dp.vgorode.ua, dpchas.com.ua, dumskaya.net, dv-gazeta.info, dzerghinsk.org, ecity.cn.ua, gloss.ua, golos.zp.ua, gorod-online.net, gorod.cn.ua, gorod.dp.ua, gx.net.ua, inform.zp.ua, informator.dp.ua, inshe.tv, insidernews.info, irtafax.com.ua, iz.com.ua, izbirkom.org.ua, izmailvechernii.com.ua, izmnews.info, izvestia.kharkov.ua, kg.ua, kh.vgorode.ua, kharkov.dozor.ua, khersonline.net, khustinfo.com/video, kiev.informator.ua, kiev.vgorode.ua, kievpravda.com, kn.ks.ua, kolokol.od.ua, korabelov.info, kramatorsk.info, kramatorskpost.com, krlife.com.ua, krnews.ua, krug.com.ua, kstati.dp.ua, lenta.kharkiv.ua, lugradar.net, mariupol-express.com.ua, mariupol.in, mariupolnews.com.ua, mig.com.ua, misto.zp.ua, mk.mk.ua, most-dnepr.info, mrpl.city, mycity.mk.ua, mykharkov.info, nashemisto.dp.ua, nashkiev.ua, nashreporter.com, nefakt.info, news.mspravka.info, newsroom.kh.ua, nf.dp.ua, niknews.mk.ua, nikolaevnews.com.ua, nikvesti.com, novosti-n.mk.ua, novosti-n.org, novosti.dn.ua, novosti.zhitomir.ua, objectiv.tv, od-news.com, od.vgorode.ua, odessa-life.od.ua, odessa.net.ua, odessa.online, odessapost.com, on.od.ua, ostro.org, otkat.od.ua, podrobnosti.mk.ua, press-center.news, prichernomorie.com.ua, pro.berdyansk.biz, rama.com.ua#tab_3-widget_panorama_posts_feed-2, real-vin.com, reni-odessa.od.ua, reporter-ua.com, ru.korzonews.info, rupor.od.ua, ruporzt.com.ua, russkiev.info, slavdelo.dn.ua, sobytiya.dp.ua, sq.com.ua, subbota.ua, svsever.lg.ua, t.ks.ua, telegraf.in.ua, timenews.in.ua, timer-odessa.net, timeua.info, tnua.info, topnews.cn.ua, topnews.odessa.ua, topnews.zp.ua, topnews.zt.ua, topor.od.ua, treebuna.info, tribun.com.ua, tribune.com.ua, tvplus.dn.ua, ua-reporter.com, uanews.kharkiv.ua, usionline.com, verge.zp.ua, vesti.dp.ua, visti.ks.ua, vmestezp.org, vn.mk.ua, vo.od.ua, volnorez.com.ua, vseprokiev.com.ua, vv.com.ua, x1.com.ua, z-city.com.ua, zachem.com.ua, zaodessu.com.ua, zhitomir-online.com, zhzh.info, zi.dn.ua, zp.vgorode.ua, zptown.zp.ua, zv.zp.ua
- 100 Ukrainian Telegram channels (all materials): @ASupersharij, @AleksandrSemchenko, @BerezaJuice, @BiletskyAndriy, @BondarenkoElenaUA, @botsmanua, @donetch, @KAPVEY, @KlymenkoTime, @KrokooDil, @LastBP, @MaxBuzhanskiy, @OP_UA, @OlgaSharij, @PortnovUA, @Pravda_segodny, @PresidentPoroshenko, @SBUkr, @ShrikePolitics, @SlugaNarodu_Official, @Ten_NaPleten, @UkrainaCHP, @UkraineNewsUa, @V_Zelenskiy_official, @Yad_OK, @ZeFackTy, @ZeRada1, @advocatprava, @borodatayaba, @borys_filatovv, @dadzibao, @dark_k, @dobkinmm, @donbasscase, @ednist_ta_progress, @ednistinfo, @gistapa, @gordonuacom, @govorit_ukraina_novosti, @gpolitnews, @gribvictoria, @gryaznayaigra, @insiderUKR, @joker_ukr, @kachuratut, @kryuchoktv, @kyivvlast, @legitimniy, @legitimniy_live, @lugansk_inside, @maksnazar, @monovaolena, @multlychnosty, @mustafanayyem, @mvs_ukraine, @nabolelo_odessa, @nach_shtabu, @nedotorkani, @nextaUkr, @notesdetective, @ochkobakanova, @office_ua, @olejnikovschina, @oleksiihoncharenko, @online_novosti_ua, @pavlovskynews, @politikaukraine, @portnikov, @razvedinfo, @rezident_ua, @rus_demiurge, @sharij_official, @shaurma_inside, @sheptoon, @skosoi, @smolii_ukraine, @sonyakoshkina, @sorosata, @spletnicca, @stolovka_ukr, @tayni_deputata, @thanksrinat, @tsibulya_ua, @tzhitomir, @ua_hot_news, @ukr_novyna, @ukrainskinovosti, @valeriazaruzhko, @varta1, @vestiukr, @wagnergate, @yurasumy, @ze_landia, @ze_team2019, @zedigital, @zv_kyiv
Manipulation in the 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.