We know the scene from the movies. We have read about it in crime novels. Every policeman knows it: If a suspect changes his story, you’ve probably caught the right man.

Spreading disinformation serves two tactical purposes: You confuse your opponents and you buy time. Strategically, you cultivate an idea about “the truth” as something that should always be talked about in quotation marks, and you create an expectation that “we will never learn what really happened”. In addition, one can create an effective smokescreen and induce passivity and pessimism in  counterparts.

A bombing with many truths
We see this method replicated in what pro-Kremlin media have been saying about the bombing of the humanitarian aid convoy in Aleppo on 19 September. Below we have created a timeline of stories in pro-Kremlin media about the Aleppo attack, drawn exclusively from wire reports issued by the state-controlled news agency RIA Novosti.

Click on the dates to access RIA’s missives in their original Russian version:

  • A humanitarian aid convoy has been attacked near Aleppo. 19/9
  • The US violated the ceasefire by attacking the Syrian army. 19/9
  • The US created this situation artificially to accuse Russia of disrupting the ceasefire. 20/9
  • There was indeed a fire, but no sign of air attack. It was a cover for the opposition army, which committed the attack. 20/9
  • There is no evidence for saying that Russia struck the aid convoy. 20/9
  • Russian soldiers find no traces of falling shells. The small traces of fire detected did not come from Russian sources. 20/9
  • It’s not clear if there was an airstrike at all. 20/9
  • American special forces are active in Syria, what about that? 21/9
  • Russia will provide additional evidence. 21/9
  • There was a US drone in the area of the convoy. 21/9
  • There were no Russian planes in the area. 21/9
  • The US has distorted Russian statements on the issue. 21/9
  • Russia is accused in order to distract attention from what the US is doing in Syria. 22/9
  • Russia has conclusive evidence that the US struck the convoy. 22/9
  • The UN had been warned that the convoy would be fired at. 26/9
  • This is a case of leading Western channels like CNN and the BBC fabricating disinformation. 28/9
  • The Syrian opposition was involved in the attack. 28/9
  • Accusations against Russia are unfounded. 30/9
  • The US struck the convoy to distract attention from another incident. 30/9
  • All accusations against Russia are groundless. 03/10
  • The attack was staged. 05/10
  • “Russophobic hysteria” is behind the accusations against Russia. 12/10

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