In the relentless pursuit of deflecting blame for its aggression against Ukraine, the Kremlin’s propagandists have employed the manipulative tactic: if it didn’t happen, just fake it. This deceptive strategy was evident in their recent attempts to shift responsibility onto the US, NATO, and other entities. From portraying Russia as a savior preventing World War III to framing the United States as the beneficiary of the ‘Ukrainian crisis,’ these narratives aim to paint Russia as a victim and mask its unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine and illegal annexation of Crimea.
In a desperate bid to evade accountability for its unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine, the Kremlin’s propagandists have resorted to a manipulation technique that involves fabricating narratives and promoting outright fakes. Their persistence in employing this deceptive strategy is evident in recent events, where they have attempted to shift blame onto the US, NATO, and other entities. Let’s explore the fake narratives involved in this Russian style of manipulation and the alarming extent to which it has been deployed:
1 – Portraying Russia as a savior preventing World War III: The pro-Kremlin disinformation machine repeatedly propagates the claim that Russia had no choice but to invade Ukraine to prevent a supposed US-led attack on Russia. Some outlets have gone to extreme lengths, asserting that Russia’s actions single-handedly prevented World War III. By painting Russia as a victim, this narrative aims to absolve Moscow of responsibility for its military invasion of Ukraine and illegal annexation of Crimea.
2- Framing the United States as the beneficiary of the ‘Ukrainian crisis‘: Another recurring narrative seeks to depict Russia’s war against Ukraine as a confrontation with a Russophobic and belligerent West. Sputnik’s Polish outlet, for instance, suggests that the American ruling class fears Russia’s global role and supports the destabilization of Ukraine. This narrative aims to divert attention from Russia’s aggression and portray it as a defender against Western encroachment.
3- Discrediting other countries and their involvement in the Ukrainian conflict: The manipulation tactics extend to discrediting countries like Latvia, portraying them as puppets of their “Western masters” who willingly sacrifice their soldiers as cannon fodder in Ukraine. By stripping countries of their agency, the Kremlin aims to create a simplistic narrative of a confrontation between Russia and the US, erasing the complexities of the conflict.
4: Fabricating and promoting fake media Covers: Russian information manipulation actors have been caught spreading fake magazine covers through social media platforms to undermine Ukraine. These covers, falsely attributed to reputable publications, ridicule Ukraine’s armed forces and President Zelenskyy. Such incidents exemplify the recurring and evolving tactic of using fake media to deceive and manipulate public opinion.
Credit: EU vs. Disinfo – A Hopeless Mix of Misleading Narratives and Plain Old Fakes
These examples underscore the persistent and evolving nature of Russia’s manipulation techniques. The European External Action Service‘s report on foreign information manipulation and interference threats revealed that Russian actors are increasingly employing sophisticated impersonation techniques, targeting Ukraine through the impersonation of trusted organizations, media outlets, and individuals.
SAFEGUARDING AGAINST MANIPULATION TECHNIQUES:
To confront manipulation techniques effectively, it is essential to prioritize Information and Media Literacy, educating ourselves and others about the strategies employed by disinformation campaigns. By cultivating a discerning mindset and questioning the underlying motives of information, we can shield ourselves from manipulation and make well-informed choices. Furthermore, supporting independent journalism, fact-checking organizations, and reliable news sources plays a vital role in combating the spread of disinformation.
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