Five Most Used Disinformation Narratives about Ukraine Twist the “Victim and Aggressor” Outlook

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A few days ago, the First EEAS Report on Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference Threats was published in Brussel by the European External Action Service (EEAS). In the period October-December 2022, 100 such incidents were identified, most of them coming from Russia, and smaller number from China. It also groups the five main narratives used about the aggression against Ukraine at the end of last year

A few days ago, the First EEAS Report on Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference Threats was published in Brussel by the European External Action Service (EEAS). In the period October-December 2022, 100 such incidents were identified, most of them coming from Russia, and smaller number from China. It also groups the five main narratives used about the aggression against Ukraine at the end of last year



The report, the first of its kind, was presented to the top political experts and officials from around the world at a conference titled “Beyond disinformation: EU reponses to the threat of foreign information” organized by the European External Action Service (EEAS) and EC High Representative and Vice-President Josep Borrell, informed the EC.

In the Executive Summary of the report (p. 5), it’s emphasized that the largest number of the 100 incidents detected from October to December 2022 (the incidents are named FIMI – Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference), were dominated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, whereas in 33 incidents the target of direct attacks were Ukrainian representatives. In 60 of the 100 disinformation incidents, the main motive was support of the invasion.

In addition, it was concluded that both Russia and China used their diplomatic networks to spread disinformation. The Russians used them for all topics, but mainly revolving around Ukraine, while the Chinese used them for the Chinese relations with the United States.

It was also noted that imitation techniques were perfected, mostly on printed media or television channels, and that in the disinformation FIMI incidents – as they are called in the report – the most commonly used techniques were based on cheap production and mass distribution of photographs and videos.

Examples of fabricated headlines from satirical publications in EU media. Photo: Screenshot of the report

The First EEAS Report also stated that the disinformation operations were multilingual:

Incidents do not occur in just one language; content is translated and amplified in multiple languages. Incidents featured at least 30 languages, 16 of which are EU languages. Russia used a larger variety of languages than Chinese actors, but 44% of Russian content targeted a Russian-speaking populations, while 36% targeted English-speaking populations – as stated in the Executive Summary of the report.

In response to such report findings, especially the use of Russian and Chinese diplomatic networks to spread disinformation in about 30 languages, out of which 16 were languages of EU Member-States, Borrell announced at the Conference that “All our (EU) Delegations will be equipped with experts on countering disinformation in many parts of the world to make our voice be heard better” (at the end of Borrell’s speech).


The two main narratives are “inverted mirror”

What may be able to help for faster recognition, or at least with doubts about the truth of some pieces of news, series of news about an event or similar, are the main narratives identified in the report in the period from October to December last year. Page 19 of the Report lists by frequency of use on a scale from the most to the least used information in terms of the 100 assessed incidents.

The first, even the second most commonly used disinformation narrative can be called “inverted or reflective mirror”. In most incidents, the narrative aims to blame the West, in the sense that countries of the democratic world are the ones with hostile and aggressive intentions towards Russia:

The most common narrative of across the analyzed incidents was the narrative that “the West is an aggressor to Russia”, using messages that portray the West as the antagonist towards Russia, pushing Ukraine to war, provoking and profiting from that war, pointing out the military mobilization and engaging in actions that inflame tensions between Ukraine and Russia. This narrative was noted in 17 incidents.

The next narrative observed, in terms of frequency, was reversed roles, but this time only between Russia and Ukraine:

„Ukraine is the aggressor targeting Russia“. This narrative falsely portrays Ukraine as a country that provokes and wants to go to war, to commit atrocities, war crimes and genocide, and to deploy, or plan to deploy chemical/nuclear weapons and installations.

Such narrative was registered in 15 of the 100 incidents. The same number of incidents were identified with a background story that indicated that those who introduced the sanctions suffered or will suffer the most damage inflicted:

The narrative “Sanctions against Russia are backfiring”, which highlighted the alleged negative consequences of the sanctions of the Western and other countries, with special focus on the food and energy crisis, as well as inflation, appeared in 15 incidents as well. Worth mentioning is that this group of narratives include messages claiming that the current crises are caused by the Western countries and their sanctions (in past decades – our note).

Main actors in the reporting period and their networking in 5 incidents. Photo: screenshot of the report

The hypocrites are in the West, and Ukraine is a Nazi state

The last two narratives are a variation of the first two. The goal is to place the blame exclusively on the other side. So, the fourth narrative is related to the hypocrisy of the Western world:

The fourth most common narrative was “The West is hypocritical” and it includes all messages that falsely impersonate all subjects from the West as violators of fundamental (human – our note) rights, that implement disinformation campaigns, who are corrupt and colonialists, but also Russophobic or Chinaphobic and aim to abuse others. This narrative was noted 14 times – notes the report.

Finally, the last narrative, yet again, turns to the victim – Ukraine. Trying to direct all the blame at Kyiv and the alleged collaboration with Nazi Germany in World War II, the roots of current events thereby should be sought in Kyiv, not in Moscow:

The fifth most frequent narrative “Ukraine is a terrorist and a Nazi state” contains posts with false claims that Ukraine is a Nazi and/or a terrorist state that supports such groups. This narrative was registered in 11 of the incidents – as stated in the report.

As part of the assessed disinformation incidents, the analysts list a number of individual and sequential events, and the situation related to Kosovo was singled out with the following statement:

The situation in Kosovo is constantly a topic that is targeted by the Russian FIMI (disinformation) eco-system, with call to action to participate in the barricades in North Kosovo made via Telegram. At the same time, the Chief Editor of “Russia Today” (RT), Margarita Simonyan announced the launch of the RT Balkan website and the social media channels – as stated on page 19 of the report, one of the examples of the events that were used for disinformation incidents in the given period of October to December.

You can find and read the full report at the following LINK .


This article has been produced within the project Fact-Checking the Progress of North Macedonia towards the EU, implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation. The article, originally published by Truthmeter,, is made possible by the support of the American non-profit foundation NED (National Endowment for Democracy). The content of this article is the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, NED or their partners.




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