This week, pro-Kremlin disinformation time-travelled to medieval times, suggesting that the West and/or NATO planned to reduce Russia after the fall of the USSR to the size of the historical Grand Duchy of Moscow. For those who can’t quite recall the borders of that Grand Duchy, you can find a map here. Like in any good spy novel, it all supposedly came from secret documents obtained by Russian intelligence services – soon handed over to Sputnik apparently. There was no further information concerning why the West and/or NATO had a plan to divide Russia according to medieval territorial borders, but the curious disinformation was repeated both in Russian and English outlets. Needless to say, the claims were not accompanied with any proof of the existence of such a ‘Grand Duchy plan’.

It was, however, not the only disinformation portraying the West as evil. As we have highlighted before, the West is the favourite enemy in the pro-Kremlin echo chamber. The West was also accused of not being satisfied with the return to a Grand Duchy of Moscow but planning to erase Russia from the map altogether. There were also claims that a war of worlds had begun, as sanctions against Russia were presented as a fight against the Slavic world. There was of course no mention of the fact that EU sanctions as well as US sanctions towards Russia were implemented due to the illegal Russian annexation of a part of Ukraine.

The US was also depicted not only as the enemy of Russia but as the enemy of Europe. A Czech outlet claimed that the US aims to occupy Europe and destroy the continent’s independence. Furthermore, it was stated on Russian state TV that Ukraine is implementing a secret plan designed by the US to conduct a genocide of ethnic Russians in Donbas. The claims of genocide in Eastern Ukraine is a recurring disinformation that has never been proven nor reported by any outlet other than pro-Kremlin propagators.


Ukraine in the headlines

The claims of genocide were not the only disinformation about Ukraine this week. As usual, there is an abundance of false claims concerning the country. Apart from the usual allegations; Ukrainian authorities are terrorists and the current President came to power through a coup d’etat, we also saw some less regular pieces of disinformation. Poland was said to be preparing to close the border with Ukraine while the facts are that a pilot project for pedestrian traffic at one border crossing point between Ukraine and Poland will end according to plan in June. In another outlet it was stated that Poland was reluctant to accept Ukrainian travellers and in an especially confusing Sputnik article, it was claimed that Kiev wants France and Germany to pay for rebuilding Donbas. The article is confusing, since the only mention of this is to be found in the headline – an often used tactic by Sputnik, as a way of spreading disinformation and uncertainties without having to substantiate the claims with proof.


Sputnik inventing Kiev policy.

Disinformation cases reported in the previous week