Russia’s Disinformation and the War in Ukraine

Russia’s Disinformation and the War in Ukraine

Megi Benia

Executive Summary

Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has proven unsuccessful in many unexpected directions and the disinformation campaign with the aim of spreading the false narratives about its military engagement in Ukraine is among them. A general overview of respective events and moves has shown that Russia has been forced to adjust its approach on disinformation and increase its focus on the domestic audience. The article aims to demonstrate that in these efforts, Russia tries:

  1. To justify its so-called “special military operation” by claiming to seek liberation of the brotherly Ukrainian people from forcefully installed neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv;
  2. To apply the policy of deniability to the crimes it has committed on the territory of Ukraine.

At the international level, Russia attempts:

  1. To portray Ukraine as a West-supported aggressor by using the traditional playbook of illegal development of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) on the territories of the former Soviet Union;
  2. To distract Western societies’ support for weapons supply to Ukraine by warning of nuclear use;
  3. To prevent the full international isolation by targeting the countries in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America to get their support at the different international fora.

After providing specific facts that support the existence of these patterns, the article tries to explain the reasons behind Russia’s changed behaviours and claims that it was caused by:

  1. The unexpected failure on the battlefield in Ukraine;
  2. The development of the Open Source Intelligence (OSINT):
  3. The fear of complete international isolation.