Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who is The Worst of Them All?
Grandfather Frost might not have much to give to Kremlin propagandists, who wish for everyone to revel in the dirt with them.
This week we continue to shed light on Kremlin disinformation and information manipulation attacks against European solidarity with Ukrainians. Furthermore, the Kremlin propaganda machinery continues its attacks against EU leaders. This time High Representative Josep Borrell is in the Kremlin’s crosshairs. Lastly, we turn to never-ending Kremlin disinformation attempting, for the umpteenth time, to justify the illegal and unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Lies and missiles continue to terrorise Ukrainian civilians
Russia continues to terrorise Ukraine’s civilian population with missile attacks against civilian infrastructure to make lives intolerable during the harsh winter months and to force them to leave their homes. At the same time, the pro-Kremlin disinformation ecosystem is proactively targeting possible recipient countries of additional Ukrainian refugees in the West as well as in Central Asia.
The disinformation bombardment includes narratives claiming that Ukrainians are not welcome or that those already residing in these countries should leave. The manipulated information includes false YouTube advertisements and altered pictures of graffiti in major European urban areas (see the earlier Myth Detector’s debunk). The intent is to create a false impression that locals in recipient countries are calling for Ukrainians to leave or that they see support for Ukraine as a burden.
Lies like these attempt to stoke fear and intolerance toward Ukrainians in targeted countries across Europe. They also try to erode popular support for Ukraine in the West, which is necessary to back up governments’ military and financial assistance to Ukraine. Moreover, Kremlin propagandists want to persuade Ukrainians that Western support for them is waning.
These narratives are a part of cynical and sinister Kremlin campaign to harm Ukrainians physically and mentally – physically through destroying homes and infrastructure for electricity, heat, and water, and mentally through smashing Ukrainian hopes and resilience. It is disinformation woven into the fabric of psychological warfare. Total war per the modern Kremlin playbook.
In hopes that some of it will stick
As we have reported before, Kremlin propagandists have a nauseating habit of throwing mud from their sty everywhere in hopes that at least some of it will stick. The tactic is as old as the human attraction to rumours of scandals.
The smear campaign targeting high-level EU officials included an attempt to link High Representative Josep Borrell to the on-going corruption investigation in the European Parliament. This is a continuation of earlier attacks, such as the recent one, which attempted to paint the High Representative’s comments as insensitive. That attack used a well-known, and cheap, tactic of using out-of-context or misleading quotes in an attempt to sow confusion.
Russia continues to be among the most corrupt nations in the world. Disinformation such as the above is an attempt by the pro-Kremlin disinformation ecosystem to divert attention from their own problems by blaming others. Furthermore, it is an opportunistic effort to utilise the topic du jour to affiliate members of the EU leadership with negative associations to discredit their work and to try to foment popular discontent.