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The Russian propaganda war right now

Jonathan Nguyen
Written By
Jonathan Nguyen
The Russian propaganda war right now
Artwork by Martina Mical

As a company we believe that there is no greater failure in humanity than an act of war. The egregious acts against the environment can be understood through the short-sightedness in all of us. But war, is a calculated, immediate act of killing a lot of people to get your way really can't be explained away.

Prior to and since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin’s disinformation efforts have sought to craft and strategically disseminate false narratives that might serve as a pretext for invasion and to elicit support domestically and across the world. Among these are claims that Ukrainians are committing genocide against ethnic Russians, that President Putin’s aim is to “denazify” Ukraine from neo-Nazi movements, that Ukraine is a European human trafficking epicenter for which Putin serves as a liberator, that Ukraine has been harboring bioweapon technology in various labs throughout the country, among others.

Monitoring done by our partners, Limbik, has shown that around 50% of the content being created concerning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is foreign influenced, whether by state or non-state actors.

At present, narrative themes revolve around political issues to justify the war. However, private enterprises have already been pulled into the propaganda machinery by both sides. Tech companies have been asked to cut off Russia and Elon Musk's Starlink was requested publicly via Twitter by the Vice Premier of Ukraine to provide bandwidth.

Other industries we see that have and will continue to be drawn into 
this are:

Financial services - global retailers are experiencing calls to shutter stores and factories in Russia, boycotts have been enacted against companies that support Russia or have not taken a stand against Russian aggression, and sweeping sanctions have been imposed against businesses with interest in or dealings with Russian oligarchs.

Update March 1:

  1. Bloomberg - More companies pulling out of Russia.
  2. Apple Pay now out of Russia

Crypto - Both sides are using crypto as the banking situation becomes uncertain. There will be calls for regulators to block and scrutinise crypto assets more closely so the sanctioned can't use these as a means of evasion. The same trend was observed in January in Kazakhstan as the political instability led to a sell-off of Bitcoin and Ethereum decreasing the currencies’ values. The decline was sparked by the central government’s decision to shut down the internet taking nearly 88000 regional mines off-line and lowering the total global hashrate by nearly 11% overnight. As Russian banks and traditional avenues for banking are stymied by the sanctions, it’s uncertain what the implications for crypto may be.

  1. Update March 1: Biden leans on crypto exchanges to stop Russia moving assets out through crypto
  2. Update March 10: Senator Elizabeth Warren introduces bill targeting crypto

Tech - Communications platforms, social networks, and content providers which have long served as conduits of disinformation will be forced by one side or the other to cut off or carry propaganda content — something that historically contended with these companies’ own self-interest:

  1. Update March 1: Messaging platform Signal notifies it’s the target of a disinformation campaign

Healthcare - A false narrative released in concert with Russia’s invasion claims that the United States and/or other NATO countries have been aiding Ukraine in the development of bioweapons and diseases including the coronavirus. The pandemic has observed an unprecedented amount of dis- and misinformation which has sought to dow doubt over the legitimacy and integrity of healthcare professionals, biotechnology companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and public health officials.

  1. Update March 10: The troll farms have started to push another version of the Wuhan lab narrative, implicating Glaxo and Pfizer along with some kind of collusion narrative between the US/Ukraine and China.

As the situation is continuously evolving, we expect a lot more information to come to light we’ll continue to update this article and others as more information comes to light.