2024-0208_EUvsDiSiNFO_DR_Sowing Distrust_Cover

Moscow’s Many Stories About EU Support to Ukraine

The Kremlin is stepping up its campaign to split EU societies and undermine morale in Ukraine. Pro-Kremlin disinformers and manipulators have been busy this week focussing on the European Union. They blame, criticise, belittle, ridicule, smear, and launch personal attacks on high-level European leaders. This is a classic trick to fill airtime and deflect attention away from their own inconvenient realities. It can also be adapted to recent developments so that claims come across as real news or new statements which should interest the public. As we highlighted last week, the backdrop for all this is the Kremlin’s routine predictions in recent years of the EU’s soon-to-come collapse. When this collapse does not materialise, propagandists have a problem in front of their audiences. Recent weeks illustrate how the framing shifts. […]

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Navigating the Harmful Consequences of Disinformation in War

For Ukrainian civilians, surviving Russia’s offensive means not only escaping bullets and artillery, but also navigating a flood of disinformation targeted at them by Russian and Russian-affiliated actors. Research by the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) identified a variety of disinformation narratives spread since February 2022 that have endangered civilian lives. Information operations are now commonly incorporated into national military and defense strategies. States recognize that dominance of the information sphere—including the ability to identify and counter disinformation—can contribute significantly to the success of military operations. In Ukraine, the government and military have been keenly focused on how to counter disinformation that has accompanied Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country. Ukraine also has a robust civil society working to identify and debunk mis- and disinformation. However, most government and civil society efforts to identify and dispel false information narratives have focused on strategic and far-reaching narratives that threaten to undermine the credibility of the Ukrainian government and military, and that attempt to justify Russia’s aggression […]

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Cacophonous Chorus of Conniving Voices

The Kremlin opens a firehose of falsehoods to flood the information space with manipulative narratives about the IL-76 plane crash in Belgorod, and seeks to alter the perception of farmer protests across Europe, spelling doomsday scenarios for the EU. Once again, it has been a busy week for the Kremlin’s information manipulation purveyors. From planes crashing in Russia’s backyard to some EU countries displaying democratic behaviour such as freedom of expression and the right to assembly, incomprehensible in the Kremlin, there were indeed many angles the Kremlin’s disinformation apparatus sought to exploit for its own devious goals. Let’s have a closer look at how they sought to alter the public perception of some of the events that unfolded this week. Almost immediately after the IL-76 crash was reported, pro-Kremlin channels started spreading claims that the cargo plane was carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) headed for a pre-arranged prisoner swap with Ukraine. […]


Time to Take a Step Forward From Analysis to a Collective Response

The latest EEAS report on FIMI threats reveals how foreign powers are systematically undermining democracies. This is not just an attack on facts, but a strategic thrust against our institutions and societal fabric, exploiting everything from elections to global crises and influential figures. The European External Action Service (EEAS) has released its second report on Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference (FIMI) threats. The latest report has meticulously documented over 750 incidents of FIMI, painting a stark picture of widespread, targeted manipulation and disinformation campaigns. This second iteration builds on the earlier report’s conceptual framework while adding concrete steps for analysis and collective response. This report highlights the breadth and depth of these attacks, encompassing 149 organisations, including influential media, and 59 individuals, including high-profile leaders such as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, underscoring an alarming escalation in the strategic targeting of state figures and vulnerable communities. […]

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All Roads Lead to Poland

Poland, one of the staunchest supporters of Ukraine, has long been among the favourite targets of pro-Kremlin disinformers and past weeks have been no exception to the rule. Interestingly, Russia did not attack Poland directly, but rather using Belarus, Poland’s Kremlin-minded eastern neighbour. The Polish-language edition of Pravda, the successor and namesake of the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, claimed that Poland destroyed bilateral relations with Belarus by applying EU sanctions. This is an oft-repeated pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative, mirroring the claims of Belarusian authorities, about an allegedly belligerent Poland. At the heart of the claim lies the backward idea that Poland is plotting against Belarus and its citizens and trying to destabilise and destroy the country. While it is true that Belarus is under EU sanctions, those sanctions were applied because of the regime’s ongoing crackdown against civil society in the country and Belarus’s involvement in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Blaming Poland for that takes some imagination. […]

2024-0118_EUvsDiSiNFO_DR_Tangled Disinfo_Cover

The Kremlin’s Upside-down World in 2024

A map of the Kremlin’s world in 2024 is an upside-down version spun by disinfo and the manipulation of obvious facts. The year 2024 will be busy. Continuing from our disinfo review of last week, we present a short New Year’s overview of the main features of the Kremlin disinformation landscape as Russian society is increasingly locked into the atrocious war that Putin started against Ukraine. The sovietisation of the economy and the authoritarian handling of society form the backdrop. State outlets and propaganda channels try hard to sugar-coat bloody realities with a set of classic manipulative tropes served on all dominant channels… According to Kremlin outlets, most major cities in Ukraine are Russian. They are just temporarily under occupation, and they include Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro, and Mykolaiv. This is perhaps the clearest illustration of an upside-down world-view where no comments seem necessary. […]

20a24-0111_EUvxDiSiNFO_DR_Years On Repeat_A2

Groundhog Day of Evil

In Putin’s Russia, the calendar turns, but the story remains unchanged. A cycle of deception, oppression, moral decay, and futile military adventurism with countless losses rolls on. For many, the New Year represents new beginnings, hope for betterment, big plans and a promise of achievement. In Putin’s Russia, none of this holds. Every 1 January, the same corrupt repressive system lacking any moral compass brings about more lies, hardship, crushed dreams, devastation, and countless deaths. Each year is indistinguishable from the last in its toll of human suffering and loss. It is fair to assume that there is no reason to wait for a movie adaptation of Putin’s New Year’s address that was surprisingly brief, but lie-filled nevertheless. The address’s overall tone of triumphalism concerning Russia’s destiny for greatness contrasted greatly with the actual reality.  […]

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Bad Santa Comes With Deceitful Gifts

The Kremlin recycled many tired disinformation tropes in 2023, targeting Ukraine and it’s supporters with absurd lies. From seeing ‘Russophobia’ and biolabs everywhere, to calling everyone a Nazi, 2024 will likely bring more of the same, but we will not be deceived. The Kremlin’s master Putin is the bad Santa of disinformation. Every year, he returns to give a huge baskets of gifts we never wanted. In 2023, he passed out many awful presents. Meanwhile, his army of trolls – all disinformation manufacturers and pushers – worked hard to spread his big bags of lies. So this holiday season, we at EUvsDisinfo take a moment to make a Christmas list of sorts, detailing the naughtiest instances of pro-Kremlin manipulative behaviour. This might give a hint about what is in store for 2024. […]

2023-1221_EUvsDiSiNFO_Putin Billboard

Everybody Else to Blame

This week, pro-Kremlin pundits had a go at European Union’s decision to start accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova. Amid all the ongoing wars and crises in the world, last Thursday, 14 December 2023 will go down as a good day, bringing much-needed hope to people not just in Ukraine and Moldova, but in Europe more broadly. The reason: EU leaders decided to open well-deserved accession negotiations with both of these Eastern Partnership countries. In addition, the European Council granted candidate status to Georgia. The Kremlin’s voices and Moscow’s pundits did not let the opportunity slip. Before the decision was made, most pro-Kremlin outlets focused on exacerbating the perception of divisions within the EU and trying to portray the EU as weak, ineffectual, non-democratic and ready to abandon support to Ukraine. […]


The Belarus KGB’s ill-conceived Creativity

KGB and Belarusian state TV use new means to sow fear among Belarusians when a security seminar in Warsaw for members of the Belarusian diaspora ended with a Belarusian KGB officer’s online appearance. On 18 November 2023, a seminar titled, ‘Secure Belarus: the forms and methods of public safety’, gathered around 20 participants on the premises of the Belarusian Youth Hub. The Hub is a well-known pro-democracy organisation among the Belarusian diaspora in Warsaw. Attendees expected to learn about digital, financial, and physical security from recognised experts. At some point during the seminar, a bearded ‘EU representative’ using the (made-up) name Fabio Zimmer appeared on a big screen via Zoom. He briefly addressed the audience in the Russian language and gave the floor to the ‘seminar organiser and sponsor’ who was sitting next to him. To the surprise of the seminar participants and hosts, there appeared on the screen… […]