The West wants the war in the Donbas and the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. Disinformation monitor #115
- Poland and UK manipulate the alliance with Ukraine
- The West is pumping Ukraine with armaments and pushing it to an offensive against the Donbas
- Ukrainians are in for a mass mobilization
- Operation “invasion”, again and again
- Learn how topics of disinformation have changed over the past year with our interactive visualization
Period: January 31 — February 6, 2022
What’s new in disinformation?
To the already established theses about a possible "invasion" operation, Russian sites have added considerations about China's role in geopolitics and a possible alliance between China and Russia against NATO. The closure of a number of Youtube channels was used as evidence of the preparation of the information field for the invasion of Western-armed Ukrainian "militants" in the Donbas. And the potential security alliance of Ukraine, Poland, and Britain was decorated with conspiracy theories about foreign governance, Ukraine's puppet status, and attempts by the British to force Zelensky to step down as president.
So, will there be an invasion?
In general, the narrative of Russian disinformation remains more or less stable: Russia has no plans to attack, the real aggressors are Ukraine (which does not want to implement the Minsk Agreements and plans to attack the so-called L/DPR) and the West (which uses Ukraine in its geopolitical games). The only difference is that with the start of the Beijing Olympics, Russian news on the invasion has increasingly included mentions of China and its alliance with Russia against NATO and the abstract West.
“How the West is cynically forsaking Ukraine”
The West is putting pressure on Ukraine for it to implement the Minsk Agreements. A war with Russia is the alternative. This is how disinformers describe the "dirty play" of Ukraine's allies, who "have already blurted out that they do not want to defend it."
“The difficulty of the choice is that if “Putin attacks”, as the West is warning, then Ukraine, again in accordance with the statement of the West itself, “will perish in the crucible of war”, and Kyiv will be plundered”.
Ukraine against the Minsk Agreements
Oleksiy Danilov's phrase that Ukraine's implementation of the Minsk agreements in their current form would lead to the country's destruction has, as expected, intensified disinformation that Ukraine's failure to implement the Minsk agreements is a source of frustration for Western allies and "causes escalation." Disinformers quoted their lap experts who claimed that “The Minsk Agreements will destroy the country of the Maidan, Russophobes, and Bandera, and this is wonderful for the majority of the population of Ukraine, this will be the liberation of Ukraine from Western occupation”.
“Kyiv declares that it is not going to comply with the Minsk Agreements, therefore, it is preparing to return, as they believe in the capital of Ukraine, their lost territories”
The wave was also mounted by Medvedchuk's trashy websites which published texts under headlines such as “Seven years of lies: Zelensky’s team officially admitted that they would not comply with the Minsk Agreements”
“China and Russia defend the world”
Russian websites accompanied their reflections on China's geopolitical role with articles about how the West "forbade" Zelensky to go to the Olympics in China (thus confirming their own thesis of foreign governance), and with attempts to glorify China itself, which together with Russia could easily destroy the United States and its allies. Propagandists intimidated readers with Russia's alliance with China against NATO, and that China would suffer as much as Russia from sanctions against Russia, and would therefore be even more active on Russia's side.
The West is arming Ukraine and preparing an offensive against the Donbas
Russian websites continue to react painfully to EU and US arms supplies to Ukraine (and they praise Germany for refusing to do so). Propagandists argue that in this way the West is pushing Ukraine to an armed offensive in the Donbas.
“The EU and the US also do not recognize the republics of the Donbas either, therefore, in their understanding, this will be a ‘fair’ war against ‘separatist formations’. And the fact that in the course of such hostilities, and taking into account the weapons supplied to Ukraine, civilians will die, seems to be of no interest to no one in the West”.
Russian disinformers accompany these statements with emotional quotes from representatives of the so-called L/DPR that “Ukraine has already used Western weapons on the line of contact” or that the weapons “are being given to the militants of the Ukrainian regime in order to massacre the peaceful citizens of LPR and DPR”.
Russian websites also explained the shutting down of those Youtube channels that distributed fakes from the so-called L/DPR as part of the Crushing Sword information campaign they had invented themselves, allegedly developed by Ukrainian and Western intelligence services. “The goal is an information blockade of independent Republics and depriving us of the opportunity to promptly bring to the world community information about the preparation of the Kyiv regime for aggression in the Donbas”.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian (mostly Medvedchuk’s) trashy websites support Russian theses about the dangers of Western weapons for the Donbas, resent the shutting down of Youtube channels, and restore the old fake about American biolabs, experiments using Ukrainian soldiers, and “the outbreaks of exotic diseases in Ukraine that began after the appearance of the biolaboratories”.
Trying to discredit the security co-operation of Poland, Ukraine and UK
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson and the Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki visited Ukraine last week. Against the background of these visits, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky announced preparations for the establishment of a security alliance between the three countries.
Russian propagandists and disinformers have discussed the prospects of such cooperation extensively and actively. In general, the discussion was in the usual form of ridicule and conspiracy theories. They argued that Ukraine would face a "humiliating role" in such an alliance, while cynical Poland and Britain would try to solve their internal problems at the expense of Ukraine. Moreover, increased cooperation between the three countries would allegedly split NATO and the EU, and their security alliance will become an "alliance of outcasts."
At the same time, Ukrainian manipulative media disseminating Russian disinformation interpreted the reasons for Boris Johnson's recent visit to Kyiv in their own way. They tried to launch a conspiracy theory, according to which the British prime minister came to warn Zelensky that “the jig is over”.
Russian disinformers tried to launch the thesis that the British want to force Zelensky to resign immediately: “either you complete all your affairs in a month and quietly go into oblivion, but with guarantees that your British assets remain intact... or... the British resident agents will use all their tools to not only make the president resign, but also to deprive him of all assets”.
Intimidating Ukrainians with a new mobilization
Zelensky signed a decree which provides for an increase in military salaries and continues to build a contract army in Ukraine. In particular, from January 1, 2024, Ukraine plans to completely abolish conscription. In response, Russian disinformers began to spread rumors that Ukrainians would be mobilized for military service right now, as Ukraine urgently needed to attack the Donbas.
Eduard Basurin, a “representative of the DPR People's Militia Department”, became the source of disinformation. His statements were actively circulated by Russian manipulative websites targeting Ukraine, as well as by state and mainstream Russian media: “instructions were given to limit the departure from the country of military-servicable male citizens aged 18 to 45 from February 20"
"In order to avoid panic among the population, the reasons for refusing to leave the country are: the lack of information on issued visas in the database, the alleged presence of cases of administrative offenses, non-payment of alimony, unresolved property disputes, and other reasons. The military commissariats of Ukraine are updating the lists of citizens subject to mobilization. In addition, we have information that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine is preparing diplomatic notes to the embassies of foreign countries, in which Kyiv asks for assistance in the return of Ukrainian citizens of draft age to the territory of the country"
The State Border Guard Service refuted these statements and called not to believe the fake news by Russian puppets.
The Crimea which is so attractive for investors is also ready for the war against Ukraine
Russian websites continue to create for their readers a picture of a successful and investment-attractive Crimea. And although most international companies continue to avoid cooperating with the region, which is not recognized by the international community, Russian disinformers are optimistic that "investors from Arab countries are interested in Crimea."
The Crimean information space is also filled with news items that support Russian narratives about a militaristic Ukraine. Russian disinformers once again remind that "Crimea is ready to be attacked by Ukraine" and simply quote Sergey Aksyonov who “appealed to the newly formed commission of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine which investigates the ‘loss of Crimea’ with a recommendation to carefully study the circumstances of the coup d'état in Ukraine in 2014, which became the reason for the reunification of Crimea with Russia”.
Also this week:
Russian websites continue to cover the issue of telephone bomb alerts in Crimea and the occupied territories of the Donbas. At the same time they point out "Kyiv's involvement in these calls and messages" and reflect that "the extreme cynicism of the organizers of this lawlessness, who are on Ukrainian territory, falls within the general policy of Ukraine towards the Donbas people and all Russians."
Russian websites have also speculated on Volodymyr Zelensky's mental health. “Volodymyr Zelensky is in a state of nervous breakdown because he doesn't know what to do. If Russia attacks, then his prospects are clear. It is obvious that the Armed Forces of Ukraine will be defeated, and the United States and Great Britain will not provide military assistance. In such a situation, it is obvious that he will either be overthrown or an early presidential election will be held, and he will simply disappear”, they wrote.
Ukrainian trashy websites continue to emotionally pump up their readers with texts about how Ukrainian business is being “molested” or that "the number of Ukrainians has fallen to a record low due to poor medicine and low living standards." And opposition politicians only refuel this constant topic with their quotes.
The topic of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to be the focus of both Ukrainian high-quality media and Russian propagandist websites. The only difference is that while Ukrainian websites reflect on the causes and consequences of the unprecedented concentration of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, Russian websites skillfully turn everything into evidence of an allegedly planned military offensive by the Armed Forces in the occupied Donbas and Crimea.
At the same time, all major political events are interpreted through the prism of this operation of "invasion". Thanks to both Russian manipulative media and Ukrainian websites that disseminate Russian disinformation, texts about Zelensky's mental health appear, fake bomb alerts in schools and other administrative facilities turn into special operations, and the shutting down of Youtube channels becomes evidence of clearing the information space for military offensive.
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 17105 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.