Ukraine has been a testing ground for Russian hybrid influence for a long time – and that includes all of the Kremlin’s disinformation tool-kit. Russian propaganda remains systemic and adaptive, looking for new ways to weaken national resilience, divide and polarize the society even after the ban of major Russia-affiliated TV channels. With the beginning of the large-scale invasion and 92% of Ukrainians now expressing negative attitude towards the aggressor state, openly pro-Russian messages have become toxic. So what new tactics have been used by Moscow in these circumstances?
Russia is looking to utilize different channels of communication, putting major emphasis on social media and messengers. They have proven to be hotspots of healthcare related disinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic, and now Russian disinformation spreads on Twitter, Facebook, Viber and Telegram like wildfire. Among those platforms, Telegram, the popularity of which has increased by 8 times since February 24th in Ukraine, plays a major role. Anonymous Telegram channels have become a major source of anti-Western narratives and repeatedly try to undermine Ukrainian will to resist, discredit the government and international aid.
Causing panic and distrust is one of the key tactics. In order to implement it, Russia has increased the intensity of information attacks after the start of the major invasion. It has also recycled the fakes that has been used previously, while trying to adapt to the new circumstances and find ways to overcome Ukrainian resolve.
How is Russian disinformation against Ukraine different from that targeting the West? What major changes we have witnessed and, most importantly, what should be done about them? Watch Ukraine In Flames #135 to find out.
- Olena Churanova, fact-checker at StopFake
- Vitalii Rybak, Chief Analyst at Internews Ukraine
- Alyona Romaniuk, founder of “On the other side of news” fact-checking initiative.
UKRAINE IN FLAMES project is created by Ukraine Crisis Media Center and NGO “Euroatlantic Course”. We are aiming at searching a loud support for Ukraine in the war started by Russia on the 24th of February 2022.
If you want to support Ukraine against Russian aggression, check the link with recommendations by Ukraine Crisis Media Center – https://uacrisis.org/en/help-ukraine.
NGO Euroatlantic Course collects donations to support Ukrainian Army and civilians – https://eac.org.ua/en/main-page/.