Multiple Russian influence networks have been running disinformation and influence campaigns since May designed to sow division in the West over its support for Ukraine, according to Recorded Future.
These efforts are being conducted by “state-controlled media, known covert intelligence outlets, and known propaganda and disinformation amplifiers” including ‘legitimate’ broadcasters like RT, disinformation outlets like Southfront, and “Telegram troll farms” like Cyber Front Z, the report claimed.
France, Germany, Poland and Turkey are the primary targets for these influence operations. They seek to amplify existing divisions – such as Turkey’s initial refusal to admit Finland and Sweden to NATO – or make them up completely, for example via forged documents claiming Lithuanian and Polish troops are planning to invade western Ukraine.
Another key Russian influence ops narrative documented by Recorded Future seeks to stoke discontent among Western voters with the cost-of-living crisis, and blame it on Ukraine.
“Attempts to stir internal discontent toward a country’s existing leadership will very likely precede future attempts to engage in malign influence during election cycles and other target-specific political milestones, in hope of projecting a candidate, party or platform more in alignment with, or at least less abrasive to, Russia’s strategic objectives in Ukraine,” the report argued.
“These figures need not be aligned with the Kremlin or hold ‘pro-Russian’ views, but can be favored for having a set of proposed neutral or non-intervention policies, or any views that would indicate an opportunity to disturb or undermine the Western coalition.”
Fake news efforts are also portraying Ukrainian refugees as negatively impacting their host countries, such as a ‘stabbing’ in Warsaw by three drunk Ukrainian men.
These efforts are likely to persist even after the war has concluded, in an attempt to swing international opinion in the country’s favor and undermine trust in Western media reporting, the study claimed.
Recorded Future’s assessment is lent extra weight by an FSB “propaganda manual” apparently intercepted by the Ukrainian secret service which describes many of the narratives listed above, it said.
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