The October 10th missile attacks across Ukraine were a key feature of disinformation in Latvia and Lithuania, with attempts to justify Russia’s actions by accusing Ukraine of ‘terrorist acts,’ while propagandists in Estonia continued to push claims that Ukrainian refugees are ‘undermining the nation-state.’
The following overview summarises developments in disinformation narratives monitored in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania throughout October 10-16, 2022, including new or shifting narratives and key cases. These development and insights primarily relate to narratives about the following themes:
Events of the Russian invasion to Ukraine
(Negative) Economic Consequences of Sanctions
Conditions of Russians and Russian-speaking Minorities
Military Threats to Eastern Europe/Risk of War Expanding Beyond Ukraine
Military Aid to Ukraine
Despite the recent destruction of the Kerch bridge and mass missile attacks on Ukrainian cities, the Estonian far-right continued to concentrate on claims that the influx of refugees is undermining the nation state and even Russifying Estonia.
News articles about the events of the Russia–Ukraine war citing Russian sources introduced allegations of terrorist attacks directed by the Kyiv regime.
Since the far-right party EKRE has alleged on numerous occasions that the energy crisis has been caused solely by the Green Deal, discussions of the economic consequences of sanctions concerned only secondary narratives with regard to the war in Ukraine.
Anti-refugee propaganda remains notorious with its emphasis on Estonia’s “Russification” by Ukrainian war refugees. The government is being blamed for participating in this anti-Estonian “conspiracy”.
Claims that Ukraine is going to obtain nuclear weapons or use dirty bombs against Russia continue to be observed.
For comparison, the most interacted with individual Ukraine-related article across all Estonian media this week received 2,500 interactions.
Disinformation narratives in Estonia regarding the events of the Russia-Ukraine war and refugees
Russia’s October 10th missile attacks against Ukraine strongly influenced Latvia’s disinformation landscape this week. As a result, the previously prevalent sub-narratives about sanctions were less common this week; instead, fearmongering about the war’s expansion and the possibility of a nuclear attack were the most popular this week.
Local pro-Kremlin voices have begun to actively promote the idea that peace negotiations with Russia are the only way to stop the war. However, according to propagandists, Ukraine is being egged on by the West to reject any “peaceful” initiatives from Moscow. Military aid from the West is consequently portrayed as another factor that unnecessarily prolongs the war.
A fear of nuclear catastrophe continues to be cultivated. The message that the Latvian government ought to prepare for nuclear disaster, rather than exacerbate its tensions with Russia, was spread this week.
For comparison, the most interacted with individual Ukraine-related article across all Latvian media this week received 1,500 interactions.
Disinformation narratives in Latvia regarding the events of the Russia-Ukraine war and the risk of war expanding beyond Ukraine
Disinformation narratives in Latvia regarding military aid and other themes related to Ukraine
The cases about the events of war did not contain any new narratives. The most prominent narrative this week focused on claims that the West is using Ukraine to wage war against Russia. Messages that the attack on the Crimean Bridge was a Ukrainian terrorist attack and that the recent missile attacks on Ukrainians cities were a justified response were also observed.
Disinformation cases focusing on the economic consequences of the war followed the well-established narrative that Russia is not responsible for the worsening situation. One article even claimed that the EU is to blame for the energy crisis due to its supposedly unlawful sanctions, incitement of a coup d’état, NATO expansion, and warmongering.
The threat of the war expanding beyond Ukraine saw notable attention this week. Claims that the West wants to launch World War III were prevalent. MP Puidokas implied that Ukraine's actions may provoke a nuclear attack and a disinformation portal shared Russian propaganda about the capabilities of its nuclear weapon, the "Poseidon." Zelensky was also accused of losing his mind and escalating the war.
Various conspiracy theories were also prevalent in the Lithuanian-language disinformation space this week. Some disinformation actors claimed that Ukraine and Russia are working together to destroy the “Slavic white race”. Others attacked Andrius Tapinas for initiating crowdfunding for Ukrainian needs instead of a terribly ill girl in Lithuania. In addition, MP Širinskienė misleadingly claimed that the Lithuanian Defense minister leaked classified information about the start of the war to his wife. General Zaluzhny, the Chief Commander of the UAF, was accused of being a Nazi based on low-quality images of a bracelet he wears. (This claim was debunked almost immediately.) Lastly, disinformation actors claimed that Elon Musk agreed to pay for Starlink once again after being visited by American “men in black”.
No disinformation about Ukrainian refugees, military aid to Ukraine, or the treatment of Russian speakers was recorded this week.
For comparison, the most interacted with individual Ukraine-related article across all Lithuanian media this week received 5,100 interactions.
Disinformation narratives in Lithuania regarding the events of the Russia-Ukraine war
Disinformation narratives in Lithuania regarding the economic consequences of sanctions
Disinformation narratives in Lithuania regarding the threat of war expanding beyond Ukraine
Disinformation narratives in Lithuania regarding other themes related to Ukraine
The Ukraine War Disinfo Working Group unites 10 think tanks and research groups, which are working non-stop to monitor Kremlin propaganda in 11 countries.
Report prepared and first time published on the DebunkEU.org web page.