The scorched-earth tactics sometimes prove successful in conventional warfare. How does it work in the disinformation world?

207 years ago Moscow burst into flames. It was September 1812, Russia was fighting against Napoleon and his coalition – and it won. Its win was essential in stopping Napoleon’s dominance in Europe.

Part of Russia’s eventual success in the war was the so-called scorched-earth tactics, which consisted of burning Moscow to the ground, so that its enemy could use neither the resources nor property in place. As French troops were arriving in Moscow, the Kremlin and major public buildings were blown up or burnt, and the inhabitants ran away. Approximately two-thirds of the city were destroyed, making it really difficult for Napoleon to celebrate his (temporary, as it turned out) advancement in the war.

As warfare vocabulary and methods were transferred to the information world, so were the scorched-earth tactics. Nowadays pro-Kremlin outlets use them to ruthlessly portray its enemies as degenerate, evil and obsessed with the idea of destruction. They are igniting the disinformation fire with the hope of making their targets as unattractive and unappealing as possible.

This week was no different. Pro-Kremlin outlets used fear to play with our emotions, and there were plenty of assumed threats to choose from; for example, Ukraine was allegedly laying ground for a new Chernobyl catastrophe with its new nuclear plant. In fact, the plant is processing radioactive waste actually resulting from the disaster in 1986. It may sound scary if you don’t get your facts straight. And if you’re not scared yet, maybe this case will do the trick: a Swedish professor is encouraging everybody to convert to cannibalism – a clear sign for pro-Kremlin outlets that the West, with its infamous liberal thought, has fallen morally and its values are degrading. The professor’s original presentation was much more nuanced – but disinformation outlets failed to bother with that.

Speaking of biased reporting, you may also find it interesting that European rule of law has ceased to exist – pro-Kremlin outlets based this claim on a single ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that happened to be inconvenient for Russian government and its focus on preserving Soviet legacy. Coincidence? We don’t think so. Using one case to paint the whole picture is another common tactics of pro-Kremlin outlets that serves the purpose of depicting the world as they see fit.

Who’s Afraid Of..? 

The narrative about the degenerate West brings us to another disinformation case, proving (sic!) that there is an old, multi-faceted Zionist-anti-Christian-Luciferian-Rothschild conspiracy behind the global financial power structure and the Western media. This is a common tactic of pro-Kremlin disinformation, aimed not only at showing that the West is collapsing in various fields, but also using unprovable conspiracy theories to back it. If you’re not scared of Zionists, maybe Lucifer will do the trick?

As if all those threats were too abstract, the scorched-earth tactics were also used in reports about military issues. President Zelenskyy was reported to double Ukraine’s military spending, which pro-Kremlin outlets used as a clear sign of preparations for an aggressive war, again without any evidence. But that was nothing compared to the US, which, as pro-Kremlin media reported, was extremely busy this week, backing Russian opposition in order to destroy Russia with one hand, colonising Poland with the other, and further militarising the outer space with the third hand. At the same time, authors of these conspiracy theories have not informed us how many hands the US actually has.

In the eyes of pro-Kremlin outlets, the Western world is far from beautiful and its allies –  far from being  honest partners. They keep scorching the Western earth with their conspiracy theoriesstories without evidence, manipulations of official statements, and the whole wide array of other instruments which you can read through in this week’s set of disinformation cases. All of them are employed with one aim: to portray the West as weak, unappealing and degenerate.

The scorched-earth tactics sometimes prove successful in conventional warfare. It’s up to you if it’s successful in the information war. Here’s a set of new disinformation cases and our response to them, which can help you build your resilience.


related disinfo cases

17.09.2019
South Front
Lithuania
17.09.2019
South Front
Russia, United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia
12.09.2019
Sputnik News
Russia, Ukraine
13.09.2019
Shooting from the Lip @Sputnik News time 04:32-05:32
United Kingdom, Europe, UK, EU
13.09.2019
60 Minut @ Rossiya 1 Time 46:58
Ukraine
12.09.2019
TV Zvezda
Russia, West, The West
04.09.2019
@Sputnik Belarus @ Gorizont Sobytiy @ time 25:50 - 28:28
Russia, UK, USSR
15.09.2019
RT, RIA.ru, Izvestiya, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Parlamentskaya Gazeta
US, Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Serbia
14.09.2019
Postskriptum @ TV Center, time 27:03 – 27:30
Russia, USSR, Baltic states, Estonia
17.09.2019
Sputnik Mundo
US, Iran
14.09.2019
Postskriptum @ TV Center, time 24:38-25:32
Russia, USSR, Baltic states, Estonia
15.09.2019
Vesti.ru
The West, EU, Sweden
10.09.2019
Sputnik Italia
Russia, US, Ukraine
13.09.2019
60 minut @ Rossiya 1 (24:40-23:00)
Russia, Ukraine
17.09.2019
Baltnews.lt
United States, Lithuania, EU
17.09.2019
Vremya pokazhet @ Pervyi kanal (42:43- 43:04)
Russia, International
10.09.2019
Sputnik French
The West, Sweden
13.09.2019
Vremya Pokazhet @ Channel 1 time 15:01-15:12
Ukraine
13.09.2019
Vremya Pokazhet @ Channel 1 time 15:15-15:37
Ukraine
12.09.2019
Sputnik Italia
Russia, Ukraine
13.09.2019
Sputnik Italia
Russia, Ukraine
09.09.2019
RT France @ 0:35 - 1:54
Russia, France
12.09.2019
Sputnik Lithuania
Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania
09.08.2019
Rubaltic.ru
Russia, US, EU
13.09.2019
Sputnik Srbija
Serbia
10.09.2019
Sputnik Ossetia
US
10.09.2019
Sputnik Ossetia
US, Georgia
09.09.2019
Sputnik Georgia time 5:55 - 6:40 , 17:13 - 17:25
Georgia
09.09.2019
Sonar2050
Portugal, Italy, UK, EU, France, Spain
13.09.2019
60 Minutes @ Rossiya 1 (46:08 - 46:33)
Russia, EU
11.09.2019
Katehon.com
Russia, Israel
11.09.2019
Katehon.com
The West
13.09.2019
Vremya Pokhazhet @ Pervyi Kanal (44:38 - 44:47)
US
16.09.2019
Oriental Review
United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia
16.09.2019
South Front
Ukraine
16.09.2019
riafan.ru
Russia, West, The Netherlands
15.09.2019
South Front
Russia, Europe, The West
15.09.2019
South Front
Russia, United States, The West
11.09.2019
South Front
Russia, The West
13.09.2019
RT Russian, TASS, Russkiy mir
Russia, Ukraine, Finland
09.09.2019
Ukraina.ru
Ukraine
09.09.2019
60 Minutes @ Rossiya 1 time 01:02:15 - 01:02:20; 01:06:21 - 01:06:29
Russia, Ukraine
13.09.2019
Sputnik Deutschland
Russia, Ukraine
12.09.2019
Sputnik Ossetia
Georgia
09.09.2019
60 Minut @ Rossiya 1 time 0:29-0:50
Russia, Ukraine
04.09.2019
Sputnik Ossetia
Ukraine
09.09.2019
Together with Russia
Russia, US, The West, Ukraine, EU, Belarus
11.09.2019
Sputnik Srbija
Russia, UK
09.09.2019
Sputnik Polska
Russia, Poland, USSR, Germany
06.09.2019
Panorama@RT Arabic Time 14:15 to 18:00
United States, Syria
04.09.2019
Sputnik Armenia
Russia, UK
09.09.2019
Sputnik Belarus @ Gorizont Sobytiy @ time 12:13 - 12:32, 18:25 - 19:25
US, Europe, USSR, EU, Germany
01.09.2019
Sputnik Polska
Russia, Poland, USSR
01.09.2019
Sputnik Polska
Russia, US, Poland
05.09.2019
Sputnik Arabic
Russia, Malaysia
04.09.2019
Sputnik Arabic
Russia, United Kingdom
03.09.2019
RT France @ 3:56 - 3:59, 04:19 – 05:25
Russia, US, Poland
06.09.2019
Sputnik Italia
US
03.09.2019
Sakinformi
Poland
04.09.2019
60 Minut @ Rossiya 1 [11:09 - 11:24]
Russia, Europe
31.08.2019
Sputnik French
Russia, Europe
21.08.2019
RT News @RT, time: 15:12-16:48
Syria
24.08.2019
RT France time 0:57 - 1:11
Russia, EU, France