As part of the program Regional Initiative for combating disinformation “Western Balkans Combatting disinformation Center: Exposing malicious influences through fact-checking and Analytical Journalism“, we present you a new analysis of fake news and disinformation narratives.
“Secret British report leaked: Government bans all criticism of US military and NATO”
The ongoing anti-Western campaign coming from Russian and pro-Russian sources often uses Western sources to bolster its own position. Certainly, the mentioned sources are often known for publishing inaccurate information or their openly anti-Western rhetoric. This week’s highlight is an RT article based on allegations from The Grayzone, an American web portal known for publishing inaccurate and fake news with pro-Russian and pro-Chinese narratives.
The aforementioned text describes the content of the allegedly leaked report, which discusses an international censorship campaign funded by the British government and carried out by US Special Operations Forces. The report defines “disinformation” as any criticism of US and NATO forces, even if the facts are in place, and thus recommends coordinated action to prevent such criticism from being published. Furthermore, the text proposes increased cooperation between EU intelligence agencies, including Ukrainian secret services, and identifies various organizations and individuals involved in these efforts. The report also bans the use of the term “West”, arguing that it encourages a narrative of Western control over Ukraine.
This is one of many examples of pro-Russian channels dealing with the analysis and predictions of certain documents known only to them. Based on this, predictions are often made accordingly, mostly supported by the statements of retired experts or political scientists who create a further course of action according to their narrative or agenda, with the aim of proving a certain thesis or simply redirecting public opinion from the path of information to misinformation.
Further scope of our work this week highlights articles on unavailable leaked documents confirming the use of ISIS members in Ukraine. The Srbin.info portal published an article discussing allegations that Ukraine is recruiting convicted Islamic State terrorists to join its Armed Forces, with the support of the United States and NATO in their proxy war against Russia. These claims are based on alleged documents and a video of former Iraqi Foreign Ministry official Hassan Fadel, although they are untraceable, as in the previous example.
In the continuation of our analysis, we also single out the text of the Financial Times, which serves as the subject for further modification of the incorrect news created by the Webtribune portal. Namely, the article discusses the growing threat of AMR – resistance to antimicrobial drugs, which has been exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine. An incident involving a Ukrainian soldier with a drug-resistant infection allowed such infections to spread beyond Ukraine’s borders. Contributing factors to so-called AMR during conflict include various toxic elements in bullets, deep wounds, poor health care infrastructure, lack of testing, and population movements. The modified article of the Webtribune portal talks about thousands of infected with the tone of a new apocalypse that threatens the whole of humanity.
Topics concerning viruses, biological laboratories, and viruses that are rampant in Ukraine are often the subject of spreading disinformation. These topics are fertile ground for instilling fear among the population of Ukraine and neighboring countries, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, when a certain amount of skepticism prevails among a certain part of the population.
Similarly, the Webtribune portal modifies a Politico article and analyzes a report that supposedly exists but was never published. This document highlights the critical role of addressing corruption in Ukraine and its potential impact on Western allies’ support for Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion. It goes on to say that the US government wants to put pressure on Ukraine to fight corruption, especially as US financial aid is involved. However, the problem that Webtribune highlights is that an open discussion on this issue can embolden opponents of US aid to Ukraine, namely certain politicians of the Republican Party. The Biden administration is reportedly involved in talks with Ukrainian leaders about making future economic aid conditional on anti-corruption reforms and making Ukraine a more attractive destination for private investment, but those conditions are not being considered for military aid.
In the light of similar unverified news, there is an analysis by Webtribune, which, without any source, cites several different figures on human losses in the Ukrainian armed forces due to the conflict. In this regard, it is suggested that around 400,000 to 500,000 Ukrainian soldiers are buried in about twenty regions of the country, with additional missing persons. These casualties include both those recorded in official hospital records and those who died off the battlefield. The text estimates that the total irreparable losses for the Ukrainian army could reach about 800,000 people when certain malpractices in the matter of numbers are taken into account. The document also points out that Ukraine has about 23 million people, however, after their calculation, there are about 3.5 million military-age men, none of whom have undergone Western military training.