Russia intimidates Ukraine with “falling into pieces” and calls the hacking attacks “provocations”. Disinformation monitor #112

  • Ukraine is being pushed toward “Minsk” again.
  • Russia accuses US of “provocations”.
  • Justifying the Russian hacking attack.
  • Russia does not hide that it has always planned to occupy Crimea.
  • Sanctions are “blackmail and populism”.
  • Learn how topics of disinformation have changed over the past year with our interactive visualization

Period: January 10 — 16, 2022

Disinfo topics

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

What’s new in disinformation?

This week, disinformers have hardly changed the tone and main directions of their work. They still demand "lifelong" non-admission of Ukraine to NATO and special "guarantees" for Russia. The Minsk Protocols and the fact that Zelensky did not meet Russia's expectations began to be mentioned more actively. Disinformers did not forget to mention that Ukraine is a "puppet of the West" and "disintegration" awaits it. However, it is difficult to call this a new thesis coming from the Russian officials. Unexpectedly, the hacking attacks on Ukrainian websites were actively discussed. Disinformers tried to distort the reality as if it was almost Ukraine who attacked itself to provoke "a new wave of accusations against Russia."

Ukraine "against" the Minsk agreements

Russian propagandists have returned to their old thesis that the West must "force" Ukraine to implement the Minsk Protocols. Only under such conditions will Russia agree to withdraw its troops from Ukraine's borders. “De-escalation is possible. First of all, it is necessary to force the authorities in Kyiv to the full and unconditional implementation of the Minsk agreements... If the Minsk agreements are implemented, there will be no threat to either the security of Ukraine or its territorial integrity.” This statement by the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister was actively disseminated by the Russian state media, as well as by some Ukrainian manipulative clickbaits.

The latter supported the ultimatums of the Russian Federation with statements and comments of pro-Russian politicians from the OPFL faction, who accused the Ukrainian authorities of inciting war: “Because Moscow’s patience ran out, as they pinned very high hopes on Zelensky, […] that he, being elected on the anti-Poroshenko, anti-war platform […] would consistently move things towards a settlement in the conflict (in the Donbas - ed.) on the basis of the Minsk agreements. None of this happened. The Russophobic hysteria continues, the NATO military infrastructure is being drawn in here, and attempts are continuing to get military facilities of American and other NATO members here...”

At the same time, Russian manipulative media targeting Ukraine didn’t shy away from good old hate speech: “Ukro-Nazi pus defeats its own future which is good”, “terror reigns on the territory of the state, and real terrorists came to power”, they wrote.

US "provokes" Russia and wants the "destruction" of Ukraine

Theses of Russian sites remain unchanged: the West provokes Russia, and Ukraine is just a puppet in the hands of the United States / NATO / Europe / abstract West (underline any option): “All those who are admitted to the power feeder in Ukraine are puppets, periodically obliged to say and do what they are told to say”.

Last week, propagandists massively quoted Lavrov about NATO's refusal to guarantee Ukraine's non-membership. And they threatened that all these geopolitical "games" of the United States could cost Ukraine its statehood.

Most likely, the Ukrainian statehood itself in the form as we know it now is in for dismantling. Surely, in the process of this dismantling, the already fairly obvious centrifugal forces will be launched, and the country will break up into separate regions that a priori will not be able to exist independently and will, one way or another, be divided between their neighbors”.

Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues have added to this the threat that Russia recognizes the so-called L/DPR: “If negotiations between the US and Russia fail, Moscow may recognize the independence of the so-called LPR and DPR. A draft of the relevant resolution has already been prepared and can be considered in the State Duma in the near future.”

Conspiracy theories around the recent hacking attack on Ukraine

On the night of January 14, one of the biggest hacking attacks in Ukraine in recent years took place. It has affected several government websites, as well as the "Diya" mobile application. Ukraine and its Western allies have suggested that Russia or its vassal state, Belarus, may be behind the attack, as all signs of this cybercrime have indicated. Russian state media and official spokespersons of the Russian government strongly refuted the participation of the aggressor state in the attack.

At the same time, Russian manipulative websites have tried to accuse Ukraine and "the abroad" of provocations against Russia. “...a reasonable suspicion arises. Was there the boy (in the sense, the hacker)? Or is it all just staged to provoke a new wave of accusations against Russia?” they wrote. And once again they contemplated that the hacking attack was a provocation to disrupt the certification of Nord Stream 2.

In addition, they tried to launch a conspiracy theory in the media, according to which the attack on state websites was carried out by Ukrainian hackers, guided by revenge on the Ukrainian secret services: “it can be assumed that the hacks of the websites of Ukrainian state institutions were caused by the revenge of cybercriminals for the defeat of the hacking hub…. It is possible that right now the SBU officers, with the participation of Western curators, are developing a version about the connections of their home-grown Ukrainian cyber-criminals with Moscow”.

Some Ukrainian manipulative websites disseminating Russian disinformation have also supported the throwing of conspiracy theories into the information space. In particular, they quoted the well-known pseudo-expert Mykhailo Chaplyha, who tried to explain the hacking attack by oligarchic wars and big geopolitics. “You need to understand that at one time we gave away all of our security to Britain, and Britain carried out attacks on the Russian sites of district clinics from Ukraine, respectively, this could have been a definite response from the Russian Federation. But this is not an answer to Ukraine, but rather an answer to Britain...


Russian media are again noticing an increase in the incidence of coronavirus in the Crimea. They add that “Crimea was among the regions of Russia with the worst rate of testing for coronavirus”.

Last week featured an article on the worldview: “Why the Crimean referendum of 1991 was not a rehearsal for the Russian Spring” where the author reflected on the impact of the events of 1991 on the events of 2014 and criticized Yeltsin, who “did not raise the issue of Crimea and Sevastopol, trying to maintain good relations with Ukraine”.

The first referendum created a republic in Crimea, and it turned out to be a convenient political form for the elite to develop a certain political self-consciousness. Local authorities here acted not as the elite of a Ukrainian region, but as the elite of the autonomous region. Crimea has always had very strong ties with Russia, therefore, moving away from Kyiv, Crimea was approaching Moscow

US threatens Russia with sanctions which is "blackmail" and "populism"

Russian disinformers were actively discussing the US Congress bill on imposing sanctions on Russia in the event of new attempts at aggression against Ukraine. According to disinformers, the new US sanctions are "pomp and blackmail" and are evidence that "Americans are not ready for dialogue and do not want to talk to Russia." Also, the pro-Russian disinformation media once again tried to sow despair among their readers and assure them that “The US is not going to fight for us (Ukraine - ed.). They will express “deep concern”, impose postscript sanctions, and read the epitaph. And that's it”.

Poroshenko is back

This week, disinformers also paid attention to the return of former President Petro Poroshenko to Kyiv. Pseudo-experts wrote that the ex-president "is trying to turn his return into a political show." And it has been suggested that Zelensky may still have a "trump card up his sleeve" in order to somehow prove Poroshenko's involvement in the "coal case" on which the charges against him are based.

Russian websites targeting Ukrainian issues wrote about why Poroshenko went to the EU. Some developed their narrative of "external management". They wrote that Poroshenko was looking for a "cover in the West" which would protect him from Zelensky. Others wrote that Poroshenko "managed to break away" and that he "met his business partners" to discuss the protection of his property in case of his arrest.

Also this week:

Medvedchuk's trashy websites continued to cite Indian, Azerbaijani, American, and other foreign media outlets that passionately defended Medvedchuk from alleged persecution by the Ukrainian authorities.

Ukrainian garbage sites manipulated the emotions of their readers by writing vividly about Zelensky's "expensive vacation." Although there is no reliable evidence of his trip to the Seychelles (or the Maldives, or Oman), this did not prevent the manipulators from provoking (and then citing) the "anger of Ukrainians" or from inventing the version that the president is vacationing on Kolomoisky's yacht.

Russian websites (along with several Ukrainian trashy sites) wrote "about the complete disenfranchisement of Russians in Ukraine" because "Ukrainization has reached print media" (that is, because of the ban on the publication of the print media exclusively in Russian).


This week, disinformers wrote that if Ukraine fulfills the terms of the Minsk Protocols in their Russian interpretation, nothing would threaten Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Russian officials say this at a time when the Russian army is on the Ukrainian borders. Any mention of Russian aggression is immediately called "Russophobic hysteria". Propagandists also write that Ukraine is a "puppet" and the United States will provoke the "disintegration" of the country. They claim that the United States will not seriously defend Ukraine, and sanctions will not lead to anything. The hacking attack, which has recently damaged various government sites and services, is called either "hacker revenge" or "provocation" in order to raise a new wave of criticism of Russia and to block Nord Stream 2. We will remind you that nothing harms the image of Russia and its business interests more than its own aggressive policy towards Ukraine and other neighbors.

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.


We searched for topics in 14272 materials in the Russian language from:

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.

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