Kremlin steps up its propaganda war

Published by The Daily Mail (27th January, 2022)

The Kremlin is pumping out disinformation saying Nato troops are in Ukraine preparing to attack Russian allies and facilities.

It claims the alliance’s soldiers are involved in fighting against Moscow-backed separatists in the long-running war in the Donbas region. 

Security experts warn the barrage of fake news, designed to harden opinion at home and spread confusion abroad, exceeds even the levels in 2014 before Moscow seized Crimea and fostered insurgencies in the Donbas.

Maria Avdeeva said the propaganda – often starting on the messaging service Telegram – showed the gravity of the Russian threat.

‘Every day, channels on Telegram come up with new “evidence” aimed at showing how Ukrainian forces alone, or with help of allies such as the US, Canada and Britain, are preparing different sorts of provocation,’ added the analyst.  ‘After that, the messages migrate to the Russian mainstream media.

‘Kremlin propaganda creates Ukraine as an enemy, an aggressor preparing an attack on the Russian people. At the same time, the disinformation campaign creates grounds for a possible full-scale military invasion.’

Pro-Kremlin bloggers claimed on Tuesday that 150 UK special forces troops had arrived in Kramatorsk, a town close to the border with the breakaway republic of Donetsk. 

‘British specialists arrived at the military airport about a week ago, local residents often see them in the city, the British do not hide their affiliation,’ wrote Semyon Pegov. The notorious blogger has 179,000 followers on the Telegram channel WarGonzo.

The same source led to an item being posted by RT, the Russian state broadcaster, that alleged: ‘We’ve received intelligence reports that Ukraine is training special groups. There are six of them. The British are directly involved with them as instructors.’

Pegov was quoted as saying the teams were planning sabotage attacks on ‘social facilities’, along with terrorist assaults on chemical plants in the breakaway zones.

RT claimed the units – disguised as Russian special forces and pro-Moscow militia – would film the attacks and then a bogus Ukrainian defector would tell Western media that ‘the provocations were made by Russia’. 

Other sources, many thought to be fronts for Russian security services, have spread incendiary stories about Western-linked ‘sabotage groups’ preparing to attack Russia and its stooges who run Donbas.

One quoted a prominent figure in the Donetsk People’s Republic saying militants tied to Western special forces had ‘arrived on the front line’. 

Red Spring, a Russia-based ‘information’ agency, has reported that ‘the war in Donbas is being waged not only by the regular army of Donbas but by the British SAS and Turkish specialists’.

Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the British government’s commons foreign affairs committee, said: ‘Lies about foreign troops, or cross-border attacks, are not just told to be believed but to provide just enough excuse for those who want to side with Moscow and Putin’s aggression that their assault on Ukraine is justified.’

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