Russian Invasion in Ukraine: Disinformation War
Mahedi Hasan | 15 November 2022
Information is a vital part of any war. In this 21st century, those who have more information can control others. Tech giants, social media companies, business companies even a country’s intelligence all look for information. As social media companies have their users’ information, they predict their customers’ next move. Of this, they placed the following advertisement or whatever they want. Information is a vital part of military intelligence, especially in war. Proper information about the enemies can result in positive results for any country. The importance of “proper” information has been identified in the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, as there have been colossal misinformation and disinformation.
There is a slight difference between misinformation and disinformation. The main difference is the intention. Disinformation is the deliberate spread of information to influence any issues. This is also called propaganda. Typically, this technique is used by the government when they try to spin the motive of audiences. On the other hand, misinformation is wrong or fake information that isn’t circulated intentionally.
During the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, disinformation and misinformation are taking over the information world. Both governments mostly circulated disinformation both in social and traditional media. Kremlin propaganda is mainly known for its extensive disinformation. Still, during the Russia-Ukraine war, or the Russian Invasion of Ukraine in 2022, there has also been government-circulated disinformation by Ukraine. The Ukrainian government and media tried to gain support from around the world by narrating emotional and sometimes vague stories.
Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 marked a significant increase in Russia’s long-running information operations against Ukraine and open democracies (Coynash, 2021). The spread of disinformation in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reflects broader issues related to changes in how information is produced and distributed. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Union blocked RT and Sputnik, two of the Kremlin’s primary channels for disseminating conflict propaganda and misinformation. Nearly six months later, the number of sites promoting the same content has skyrocketed, indicating that Russia has discovered ways to circumvent the ban. They’ve rebranded their work to hide it. Diplomats are now in charge of some propaganda. Much of the content has also been copied and pasted onto new websites with nothing to do with Russia. (Klepper, 2022)
Most common disinformation narratives:
The following list compiles some of the most common myths and disinformation from more than 220 websites with a history of publishing false, pro-Russia propaganda and disinformation (Cadier et al. ,2022).
- Classified documents showing Ukraine was preparing an offensive operation against the Donbas
- The massacre of civilians in Bucha, Ukraine, during the first month of the war was staged
- The United States is developing bioweapons designed to target ethnic Russians and has a network of bioweapons labs in Eastern Europe
- Ukraine threatened Russia with an invasion
- US paratroopers have landed in Ukraine
- Ukraine staged the attack on the hospital in Mariupol on Mar. 9, 2022
- European universities are expelling Russian students
- Ukraine is training child soldiers
- The war in Ukraine is a hoax
- Russia was not using cluster munitions during its military operation in Ukraine
- NATO has a military base in Odessa
- Russia does not target civilian infrastructure in Ukraine
- Communist Russia entirely created modern Ukraine
- Crimea joined Russia legally
- Ukrainian forces bombed a kindergarten in Lugansk on Feb. 17, 2022
- The United States and the United Kingdom sent outdated weapons to Ukraine
- Nazism is rampant in Ukrainian politics and society, supported by Ukrainian authorities
- Anti-Russian forces staged a coup to overthrow the pro-Russia Ukrainian government in 2014
- Russian-speaking residents in Donbas have been subjected to genocide
In the context of Russia’s large-scale aggression against Ukraine, governments around the world quickly recognized the disinformation threat. They have responded by emphasizing Russian government narratives and tools, sanctioning media and personalities, and supporting media environments domestically and in Russia and Ukraine. Similar fact-checking and debunking campaigns were carried out by international organizations and cross-organizational mechanisms for information sharing and technical assistance.
What should we do:
- Please don’t believe everything on social media, whether they are praising Russia or Ukraine
- Do Verify independently
- Always be aware of media literacy
- Don’t believe everything on news media also, as there are huge state-owned propaganda
Cadier et al. (2022), “Russia-Ukraine Disinformation Tracking Center,” News Guard, https://www.newsguardtech.com/special-reports/russian-disinformation-tracking-center/ (accessed on Nov.11, 2022).
Coynash, H. (2021), “Moscow’s Proxy “Republics Announce That Donbas Is and Always Was Russian,” Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, https://khpg.org//en/1608808705 (accessed on Nov. 11 2022).
Klepper, D. (2022, August 9). Russian disinformation spreading in new ways despite bans. Associated Press. https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-misinformation-european-union-government-and-politics-e5a1330e834fde428aab599b5c423530
Photo taken from @Financial times