“Russophobia spewed out by Washington, the Pentagon, NATO and the European Union has created the worst crisis in relations with Russia since the Cold War.”
“The main aim of this war [between the US and Russia or the US and China] is to destroy Russia, because then its rich natural sources can be taken for free.”
“The revival of Russia’s national identity usually leads to the rapid growth of its physical strength. Instinctively, no-one in the West likes it. Sanctions are the reaction of an old and tough enemy to Russia’s reinforcement.”
Repetition is one of the most powerful and frequent techniques used by the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign. And framing Russia as a victim of Western aggression and “Russophobia” is one of the key disinforming narratives. This week, we saw both neatly combined.
The other two messages were broadcast in a popular news programme watched by millions of people on Russian state-controlled Pervyi Kanal.
Such messaging is certainly powerful, but facts contradict it. For example, the record of how the US, NATO and the EU worked hard to build strong cooperation with Russia since the 1990s is clear. And of course it was Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine and illegal annexation of Crimea which led to various policy dialogues and mechanisms of cooperation being temporarily frozen, as well as to sanctions.
Sweden revisiting Poltava?
Another example of disinformation materialised when newspaper Pravda claimed that Sweden is considering sending its army to Donetsk. Sweden and Ukraine, we learned, now demand that the results of the battle of Poltava – a battle that ended Sweden’s status as a major power over 300 years ago – should be cancelled and Russia recognised as a loser. For the debunk see here.
For a Swedish audience, this may well sound absurd, even ridiculous. But pro-Kremlin messaging is adept at identifying and tailoring specific messages to specific audiences. From the point of view of an audience that has been constantly fed the image of the West as an aggressor, such stories can most definitely be perceived as fact.
The most extreme example of disinformation about Western aggression that we uncovered this week was a conspiracy theory presented on Russian TV channel NTV. In the light of the investigation of Russia’s interference in the last US elections, we see more and more often the mirroring accusation by pro-Kremlin disinformation: that the West is interfering in Russian elections.
Thus we heard this week that the US-linked intelligence services have a secret plan to murder one of the “weakest” Russian presidential election candidates. The claims are not backed up by any kind of evidence. And no explanation was offered as to what could possibly be the goal of this “secret plan”.
Disinformation cases reported in the previous two weeks: