In March, more than 900 cases of disinformation relating to Ukraine appeared in 85 monitored media outlets from Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Italy, and Germany, according to VoxUkraine, an independent analytical and fact-checking platform.
In its monthly report, of 917 total disinformation cases identified by VoxUkraine, the largest number of were found in the Polish media (207), followed by the Hungarian media (158) followed by Czech and Slovak media (146 each).
The total of 917 disinformation cases represents almost 30 per day across the monitored outlets.
VoxUkraine said that “in March, the anti-Ukrainian narratives that were most active via European media were those alleging Western control over Ukraine, justification for Russian aggression, discrediting the Ukrainian government, [and] the alleged presence of ‘Nazi ideology’ in Ukraine.”
VoxUkraine contends that such narratives are perpetuated by both the broadcasting of both old and new items of fake news, as well as the repetition of false statements initially made by Russian outlets, commentators, official spokespersons and social media content generators.
Some of the outlets monitored appear to be openly pro-Kremlin and are directly involved in disinformation; others are considered mainstream.
Among the narratives examined, one is categorised by VoxUkraine as ‘Western control over Ukraine’. Within that broader notion, the monitoring identified that the thesis that ‘NATO will fight to the last drop’ is being propagated in what seems to be attempts to spread the idea that Ukraine’s wars will be exported to other countries (and their readers) by NATO. This was the primary disinformation direction in Poland, in particular.
‘In order to confuse the reader, disinformation media outlets spread several theories that contradict each other,” writes VoxUkraine. “Some write that the escalation of the war is only beneficial to the US, while others say that it is the US and Great Britain or all NATO countries at once. If Ukraine is unable to resist Russia, [these outlets] predict a struggle ‘not to the last Ukrainian, but to the last European’.”
Currently, according to polling, there is growing support for populist isolationism in Poland.
Another narrative that was widely circulated is about justifying Russian actions toward Ukraine. This was especially prominent in Slovakia.
“As part of the narrative of justifying Russian aggression, propagandists spread Putin’s statement that Western countries were preparing a plan to exterminate Russia, similar to the plans of Nazi Germany to destroy Slavic peoples,” VoxUkraine said.
Slovakia is one of the first two countries to provide Ukraine with fighter jets.
VoxUkraine’s monthly report also highlighted a technique of Russian propaganda that is currently in use.
“Pro-Kremlin media also resorted to a classic propaganda method: instead of discussing their own crimes, they accused other countries of all ‘sins.’ In one publication, they mentioned the operations of NATO countries in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya,” VoxUkraine said. “This list is supposed to discredit the West and demonstrate its hypocritical support for Ukraine against Russian aggression.”
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