On Saturday 7 October, Hamas launched multiple and indiscriminate attacks against Israel. After this deadly incursion of Hamas, top-ranking Kremlin officials went on an information offensive and tried to pin fault for the escalation on the West. While the EU and many countries across the world immediately condemned the terrorist incursions. Russia’s official statement was ambiguous. Worse still, several top-ranking Kremlin officials went on an information manipulation offensive and tried to pin fault for the escalation on the West. In addition, pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets did not hesitate to cynically use these horrid assaults to draw a false parallel between Hamas and Ukraine.
Source — EUvsDiSiNFO — October 12, 2023 —
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On the morning of Saturday 7 October, Hamas, an Islamist group in Palestine designated a terrorist organisation by the EU, the US, and several other countries, launched multiple and indiscriminate attacks against Israel. Assaults killed at least 1200 people, most of them civilians, and injured thousands. Hamas militants also kidnapped more than a hundred people. Overall, the series of attacks were among the deadliest in the nation’s history.
While the EU and many countries across the world immediately condemned the terrorist incursions, Russia’s official statement was ambiguous. Worse still, several top-ranking Kremlin officials went on an information manipulation offensive and tried to pin fault for the escalation on the West. Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, deceivingly called it ‘a direct consequence of the chronic failure to comply with the relevant resolutions of the UN and its Security Council and the actual blocking by the West of the work of the Middle East “quartet” of international mediators’. Dmitri Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia, went much further with a unhinged claim targeting the US: ‘[I]nstead of actively working on a Palestinian-Israeli settlement, these idiots got in on us and are helping the neo-Nazis with all their might, pushing two close nations into conflict’.
In addition, pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets did not hesitate to cynically use these horrid assaults to draw a false parallel between Hamas and Ukraine. Vladimir Solovyov, a figurehead of the Kremlin’s propaganda apparatus, asserted that appalling acts by Hamas resemble how Ukrainian so-called ‘Nazis’ supposedly maltreated Mariupol civilians who supported Russia and Russian prisoners of war.
By doing so, Solovyov tried to kill two birds with one stone. First, he reiterated one of the main pretexts that Russia used to fully invade Ukraine back in February 2022. Secondly, he tried to shift the blame for the invasion’s consequences, including war crimes, from Russia to Ukraine. Human Rights Watch, a well-established international NGO, and many others have gathered indisputable evidence proving that Russia has committed war crimes.
‘60 Minutes’, an infamous Kremlin-controlled propaganda show, drew another false parallel when claiming that the Israelis are indiscriminately bombing Gaza, while Russia’s armed forces only hit military targets in Ukraine. There is ample evidence that Russian armed forces bombed civilian targets, tortured Ukrainian soldiers, and maltreated civilians.
Stoking trouble in Nagorno-Karabakh
Following an Azerbaijani military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Kremlin has increased its focus on that region as well. First, several pro-Kremlin outlets stated that the EU Mission in Armenia (EUAM) is only engaged in espionage. In fact, EUAM, a civilian mission, was set up following a request by Armenia to help with routine patrolling and reporting on the situation on the ground while promoting peace.
In an attempt to flex Russia’s imperialist muscle in the whole region, one outlet claimed that the EU wants to push Russia out of the South Caucasus. This accusation fell within a broader trend of pro-Kremlin outlets promoting the idea that the Caucasus is exclusively within Russia’s zone of geopolitical dominance while discrediting any other mediation efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Other cases of pro-Kremlin disinformation on EUvsDisinfo’s radar this week:
- Several pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets, including FSB-controlled NewsFront, claimed that the West is forcing Ukraine to send minors to the front. As Russia is mobilising extensive parts of its society in stealth, former UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace did say that Ukraine should reconsider the scale of mobilisation in the country. That said, he did not make any statements about the supposed need to mobilise teenagers into the Ukrainian army.
- The Spanish version of Sputnik targeting Latin-American audiences asserted that Ukrainians are infecting Europe with antibiotic-resistant diseases possibly linked to US biolabs. This is a deliberate distortion of a Financial Times article. The original article described a single case of an anonymous Ukrainian soldier resistant to almost every antibiotic available. Nothing in the Financial Times article suggests a link to alleged US military biolaboratories in Ukraine , a disinformation narrative debunked over and over again.
- A number of Kremlin-linked outlets, including Sputnik Afrique, declared that – unlike the BRICs – Western countries enslave the rest of the world through financial institutions. This is a worn-out case of disinformation about the supposed ‘golden billion’, a conspiratorial idea concocted in the Soviet Union in 1990, and the alleged messianic role of Russia. In more than 30 years, not a single piece of evidence has been produced to confirm the existence of such a plot. International financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have governance models that do not allow a small group of conspirators to control them in the interests of an alleged ‘golden billion’.